Agassi Could Skip Int'l Premier Tennis League Due To Tournament Dates
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 Sunday'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).
UNKNOWN IDENTITY: In London, Paul Newman reported the IPTL "has so far declined to reveal even the identities of the team owners," who between them are said to have committed to paying a total of nearly $24M at an average of more than £500,000 ($833,000) to each player. Agassi said that "he did not know the identity of the owner of his Singapore team." Leading players "have complained for years about the shortness of the off-season." Now it has been lengthened to seven weeks for men and 10 weeks for women, there have "inevitably been murmurings about the fact that some are using the extra time to play in lucrative exhibition matches." Agassi, when asked if he would have committed to the IPTL during his playing days, said, “It’s different now, the season ends early November. I didn’t have that luxury because I took that time away to prepare for Australia." Sampras said the offseason had been so short in his day that he had “barely enough time” to prepare for the Australian Open. Sampras: “The schedule’s a little shorter these days, [it] gives the guys an opportunity to play a few exhibitions, make a few extra bucks." He added, “We all know they need it, so if someone’s dumb enough to pay them, they’d be dumb not to take it” (INDEPENDENT, 3/3).