Top tennis players eager to sign up for Asian league


Tennis Correspondent

Players have complained about the length of the season for as long as most people in the sport can remember, but for the foreseeable future most of those who have protested the loudest are likely to fall quiet.

When the regular men’s campaign ends at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London in mid-November there will be a gap of just seven weeks before the 2015 campaign begins, but most of the game’s leading players will today give their backing to a new venture which will fill 23 of the off-season’s 49 days.

The International Tennis Premier League, which is loosely modelled on cricket’s Indian Premier League, will take a step nearer to fruition in Dubai this afternoon when a “player auction” takes place in the suitably opulent surroundings of The Oberoi, a luxury hotel.

Although the final details have yet to be confirmed, five franchises based in Hong Kong, Mumbai, Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur are expected to go into the auction armed with budgets of at least $4 million (about £2.4m) each to pay players’ salaries for the inaugural competition, to be held between 28 November and 20 December.

The player list includes Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki. A number of recently retired “legends” have also committed to the project, including Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Goran Ivanisevic and Martina Hingis. Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and Li Na are the only significant absentees.

Each match between the city franchises is expected to comprise one set (with a tie-break at 5-5) of men’s singles, one of women’s singles, one of men’s doubles, one of mixed doubles and one of legends’ singles. Each city will play eight matches, four at home and four away. The contests, which will be geared towards TV audiences, are expected to last a total of three hours each.

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. Murray, for example, is not expected to play in many matches because he devotes most of December to his winter training camp in Florida.

Djokovic described the competition, which is the brainchild of the Indian doubles player Mahesh Bhupathi, as “a fantastic concept – if it happens”. The world No 2 added: “It’s going to promote tennis in the Asian part of the world. That is a huge market. It’s a fun concept. It lets the players enjoy themselves on court and off court together.

“It’s something that we don’t get to see that much, the team concept. It’s not that easy to realise, because it’s a huge programme and project. Hopefully, I’m going to try to be part of it.”

Federer said he wanted to see the competition get off the ground first before considering his own involvement, but added: “I hope it’s going to be successful, because there is definitely potential in the Asian market. So many people live here. A lot of tennis enthusiasts come from this part of the world.”

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine