SBD/March 4, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Agassi Could Skip Int'l Premier Tennis League Due To Tournament Dates

Agassi said the prospect of playing over Thanksgiving is a non-starter
Andre Agassi "will snub" the inaugural Int'l Premier Tennis League (IPTL) if it "clashes with Thanksgiving," according to Martyn Herman of REUTERS. Agassi was named in yesterday's "player draft for the new Asia-based event but said he had since learned the first match would clash with the November holiday." Agassi said, "My agreement to do it was based on a few very specific conditions. Certainly economics played a little part in it but also time away played another part. I can't be away for more than four or five days so I set some limitations and had some dates in December. Now I read in an email that the dates are over Thanksgiving. That would be a non-starter for me. Six or seven days away is too much of a price to pay." Herman noted the draft for the IPTL, organized by former doubles player Mahesh Bhupathi, "saw the four teams -- Singapore, Dubai, Bangkok and Mumbai -- bid for players." Organizers said that a total of $24M "was spent" (REUTERS, 3/3). Matches are scheduled for a "17-day period in November and December, although much of the tournament's finance is still to be put in place" (BBC.com, 3/2). In London, Barry Flatman wrote skepticism is the "overwhelming viewpoint in major tennis circles concerning this new venture." Asia is a "booming tennis market" but key players have already decided that "committing to the IPTL is not worth the risk." The continent's two "most foremost players," China's Li Na and Japan's Kei Nishikori, have "turned down potential multimillion-pound deals," as have Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova. Andy Murray said, "The one thing I would say about the league, if I go to play in it, is what I agreed to is playing three nights in one place, so I’m not travelling around across the whole of Asia in the space of a week" (LONDON TIMES, 3/2). Also in London, Simon Briggs noted several top players "offered positive reactions" about the tournament. Novak Djokovic said, "It's a fantastic project. The concept of a team is something we haven't seen before" (London TELEGRAPH, 2/27).
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