Inaugural Int'l Premier Tennis League Moves Closer To Reality Following Player Auction
Andy Murray "will play for Bangkok" in the inaugural Int'l Premier Tennis League, according to the BBC. Murray "will play alongside Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Victoria Azarenka in tennis' version of cricket's Indian Premier League." 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." Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Pete Sampras have "also been drafted." The tournament is "due to be played in Singapore, Mumbai, Dubai and Bangkok, with each of the four cities represented" (BBC, 3/2). REUTERS' Sudipto Ganguly reported organizers said on Sunday that Nadal will team up with "14-times major champion" Sampras for Mumbai. Williams "will headline the Singapore team alongside Tomas Berdych and Andre Agassi" (REUTERS, 3/2). In London, Barry Flatman wrote skepticism is the "overwhelming viewpoint in major tennis circles concerning this new venture masterminded by the veteran Indian doubles player Mahesh Bhupathi, who saw the massive financial interest generated by the cricketing equivalent in his home country and decided a similar venture was more than viable in his own sport." Asia is the "booming tennis market" but key names have already decided that "committing to the IPTL is not worth the risk." The continent's two "most foremost players, China's Australian Open winner Li Na and Japan's massively endorsed Kei Nishikori, have turned down potential multimillion-pound deals," as have Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova. Murray: "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" (SUNDAY TIMES, 3/2).
'FANTASTIC PROJECT': Also in London, Simon Briggs reported an article published on the front page of French newspaper L'Equipe on Thursday "offered positive reactions from several leading players," including Novak Djokovic, who said, "It's a fantastic project. The concept of a team is something we haven't seen before." L'Equipe also quoted Williams' coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, who "denied that the IPTL will worsen the problem of player burnout." Mouratoglou: "In fact it could work well as a training base. It will make them prepare differently, in Asia and with their whole team" (TELEGRAPH, 2/27).
WORTH THEIR WHILE: Also in London, Paul Newman wrote the rewards for the players "are potentially huge -- there has been speculation" that Nadal could earn $1M a night -- though their pay "will depend on the extent of their commitment" (INDEPENDENT, 3/2).