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Tennis: ‘Big Three’ commit to IPTL; Nishikori, Japan join the party

Novak Djokovic’s match against Roger Federer in New Delhi was a highlight of last year’s inaugural IPTL. Photo: AFP.

Novak Djokovic’s match against Roger Federer in New Delhi was a highlight of last year’s inaugural IPTL. Photo: AFP.

April 13, 2015: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and World No.1 Novak Djokovic – who have won 17, 14 and eight Grand Slam singles titles respectively – have signed up for the second Coca-Cola IPTL (International Premier Tennis League), which will be held from December 2-20.

 

Japan Warriors, featuring Kei Nishikori and Maria Sharapova, are a new addition to the event and will join the original quartet of teams – DBS Singapore Slammers, Manila Mavericks, UAE Royals and Indian Aces, the 2014 champions.

 

Mahesh Bhupathi, founder of the IPTL, said: “Tennis is on a tremendous growth path in Asia led by Japan. The country boasts three men in the top 100, so Japan coming on board as the fifth Asian country led by their top star, Nishikori, proves that the league is on the right path.”

 

Federer will represent the UAE Royals this year after appearing for the Indian Aces in their home leg last year, while Djokovic will play for the Singapore Slammers after playing for the UAE Royals last year, both at home and in the India leg.

 

Nadal had to withdraw from last year’s event due to injury – and was replaced by Federer – but has again been signed by Indian Aces as they seek to defend their title.

 

Djokovic and Federer played a limited amount of matches last year along with fellow ‘icons’ Sharapova, Serena Williams, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, often only representing their franchises in the home leg.

 

Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych each played all four legs for their teams. Monfils played a starring role for Indian Aces as they won the inaugural event and the flamboyant Frenchman returns to the franchise along with India’s own Sania Mirza, currently No. 1 in women’s doubles, and doubles specialist Rohan Bopanna, and also veteran Fabrice Santoro. However, Ana Ivanovic won’t return to the Aces after being signed by the UAE Royals.

 

Tsonga will continue to play for Manila Mavericks, who have signed World No. 1 Williams this year. Berdych has been signed by the Royals and is likely to play the majority of men’s singles outside of Dubai, where Federer will take centre stage.

 

“The first edition was a resounding success in terms of player and fan acceptance,” Bhupathi said. “Television and digital audiences enjoyed a very high level of competition and we have set a high bar for ourselves. We are confident of building on the success of last year to come back with a bigger and better product in 2015.”

 

Source: IPTL (www.iptlworld.com); Editing by SportAsia

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