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
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
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.

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot