Top Tennis Players Targeted For A New Twenty20-Style Asian Tennis League
Tennis "is preparing to go Twenty20 with a blast of quick, made-for-television sets starring the best players in the world," according to Neil Harman of the LONDON TIMES. The event "is backed by the wealth of princes and governments across the Middle East and Asia and is to be installed by the end of the year in an effort to derive the maximum benefit from its present golden age." A November launch "is being readied for the International Premier Tennis League," a city-based franchise league that "will showcase not only those winning today’s grand-slam tournaments, but also past stars." The inaugural league "will be played from late November until just before Christmas, with players criss-crossing Asia, as matches are played on a home-and-away basis." A number of the present crop of top names "are already contracted to the IPTL and they will be auctioned" -- in much "the same way as the Indian Premier League operates in cricket." The "brainchild of the IPTL" is Globosport Managing Dir Mahesh Bhupathi. The company is promoted as India’s top sports, entertainment and new media conglomerate. The idea is that "each league franchise would have a minimum of six players" categorized as "marquee." The "salary band for each team is likely to be set between" $4M-$10M (LONDON TIMES, 4/1).
BIG NAMES: The London DAILY MAIL reported Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams "are among the leading players being lined up" for the new Twenty20-style Asian tennis league. Murray "has traditionally held his offseason training block on the Florida coast at that time of year but would have to make new plans if he decides to compete in Asia." Roger Federer "cannot take part this year due to a clash with his exhibition tour in South America but could sign up next year if the league proves to be a success" (DAILY MAIL, 4/1).