Owners of the four city franchises that will compete in the inaugural International Premier Tennis League at the end of this year committed yesterday to paying players a total of nearly $24m (about £14.3m).
Although the competition will be smaller than originally announced – with four teams rather than five and matches taking place over two weeks rather than three – it still promises to be a big money-spinner for the players.
The initial rosters show that a total of 28 players have been signed up so far by the four teams, which will be based in Bangkok, Dubai, Mumbai and Singapore. That suggests each player will be paid an average of $888,000 (about £530,000), though several will be earning significantly more than that.
The IPTL, based loosely on cricket’s Indian Premier League, held its first “player auction” in Dubai yesterday. No details of individual deals were disclosed, but the likes of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Serena Williams are certain to be well recompensed.
Each of the four teams will have squads of between six and 10 players. The teams are expected to play six matches each – three at home and three away – between 28 November and 14 December. Matches are expected to last three hours, in the format of one set of men’s singles, one of women’s singles, one of men’s doubles, one of mixed doubles and one of legends’ singles. The full schedule is not out until the end of March, and the identities of the team owners are yet to be revealed.
Not all players must commit for the whole competition. Murray is understood to have said he will not play in the latter stages because he wants to be training in Florida then.
The Scot has been recruited by the Bangkok franchise, along with Victoria Azarenka and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. It would be no surprise if Murray appears only in the home matches, which are expected to be on 2, 3 and 4 December.
The Mumbai franchise looks to be paying the most, having recruited Nadal, Pete Sampras and Ana Ivanovic, while Dubai, headed by Djokovic, has a strong Serbian bias.
Team line-ups: Singapore: T Berdych, A Agassi, L Hewitt, S Williams, B Soares, P Rafter, D Hantuchova, N Krygios. Bangkok: A Murray, J-W Tsonga, V Azarenka, D Nestor, C Moya, K Flipkens. Mumbai: R Nadal, G Monfils, P Sampras, R Bopanna, A Ivanovic, S Mirza, F Santoro. Dubai: N Djokovic, C Wozniacki, G Ivanisevic, J Tipsarevic, N Zimonjic, M Jaziri, M Hingis