International Premier Tennis League Confirms Five Teams; Auction In March
The Int'l Premier Tennis League, "inspired by the runaway success of Twenty20 cricket," will be staged from Nov. 28-Dec. 20 in Asia, according to Swanton & McDonald of THE AUSTRALIAN. Franchises "will be based in Singapore, Mumbai, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and a city in the Middle East to be announced." Organizers want 10 teams by '20, "including a push into China." Total prize money "will be settled when television rights are finalised." Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova "are understood to be certain starters and will be up for auction in a player draft on March 2" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 1/21). IPTL co-Founder and Indian double specialist Mahesh Bhupathi said, "We've got a pretty exciting player field. We are going to announce that in a couple of weeks. We're in the middle of one of the biggest tournaments in the year. We don't want to distract from that" (REUTERS, 1/21). The AAP reported Lleyton Hewitt "has committed" to IPTL. While Hewitt confirmed his involvement in Melbourne on Tuesday, organizers "were unwilling to give away other names ahead of what they said would be player announcements in coming weeks." Bhupathi said that "players were excited about the potential boost to their earnings." Bhupathi: "From a player’s perspective, players have been shouting about more prize money for a long time. This is a very positive impact for the players." Teams "must include between six and 10 players," with a salary cap of $10M and minimum of $4M. Each match "will include one set each of men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s singles, women’s doubles and legends’ singles." The games "will have no-advantage scoring and the sets will have tiebreakers at 5-5 to keep them short, so the five sets combined will take about three hours to suit broadcasters" (AAP, 1/21).