Globosport boss and India’s doubles tennis star Mahesh Bhupathy has conceived a brilliant idea that might result in world’s top tennis stars converging to match venues in the Philippines, Singapore, India and the UAE. Probably drawing inspiration from sports leagues like the Indian Premier League in cricket, Indian Super League in football, Indian Badminton League and Pro Kabaddi, Bhupathy extrapolated the concept to tennis and propounded the idea of an International Premier Tennis League that could span to other Asian nations as well. Bhupathy’s brainchild is called the International Premier Tennis League and it is aimed at bringing together current champions, tennis legends and upcoming talent in an appealing and interesting format, like of which has never been tried out earlier. Mahesh Bhupathy probably thought that International Premier Tennis League would be the only way to attract big names in tennis to the South Asian nations, where the big stars are otherwise least likely to come. To some extent, the new League will partly fulfill the demand for top-level tennis in Asia. The professional league is designed to have team matches in premier cities of Philippines, Singapore, India and the UAE.
As per the IPTL draft based on the conceived format, a number of international tennis stars have already shown their willingness to join 4 franchise teams. These Franchises have already been named as; Manila Mavericks, Singapore Slammers, Micromax Indian Aces and UAE Royals. Bangkok was originally chosen as one of the franchises but security concerns after military coup in Thailand during May 2014 prompted the organizers to shift the venue to Manila. The provisional entries for the franchises until two months ago were as follows.
Manila Mavericks: Andy Murray(UK); Jo-Wilfried Tsonga(France); Carlos Moya(Spain); Daniel Nestor(Canada); Huey(Philippines); Sharapova(Russia) and Kirsten Flipkens(Belgium).
Singapore Slammers: Andre Agassi(USA); Lleyton Hewitt(Australia); Nick Kyrgios (Australia); Patrick Rafter(Australia); Tomas Berdych(Czech Republic); Bruno Soares(Brazil); Serena Williams(USA) and Daniela Hantuchova(Slovakia).
Micromax Indian Aces: Roger Federer(Switzerland); Gael Monfils(France); Pete Sampras(USA); Rohan Bopanna(India); Fabrice Santoro(France); Sania Mirza(India) and Ana Ivanovic(Serbia)
UAE Royals: Novak Djokovic(Serbia); Marin Cilic(Croatia); Richard Gasquet(France); Nenad Zimonjic(Serbia); Janko Tipsarevic(Serbia); Goran Ivanisevic(Croatia); Malek Jaziri(Tunisia); Caroline Wozniacki(Denmark) and Eugenie Bouchard(Canada).
Between 28th November and 13th December 2014, the teams will play a total of 24 matches in a round-robin format to determine the inaugural IPTL League Champions. The IPTL has been conceptualized to amalgamate world-class tennis and entertainment in order to keep spectators and TV viewers completely engrossed. All IPTL matches will follow the rules of the game and the code of conduct, laid down by the International Tennis Federation.
The matches will be played in indoor stadiums, equipped with Hawk-Eye and speed guns that would measure service speeds during each game. As per the format, the team with most wins throughout the League will be declared as Champion. In the event of two or more teams sharing the same points in final tally, the following League winner criteria will be applied in the stated order.
Head to head standing
Number of games won
Number of games lost
Biggest games margin in any single match win
League Champions will receive the IPTL Challenge Trophy in Dubai, on December 13, 2014, with a grand prize of $1 million.
Team Matches and Format: All league participants will compete across 5 single-set matches to determine a winner. The order of play will be decided by home team in the host venue. If 2 neutral teams are playing, then a coin toss determines who picks the order of play. There will be 5 sets played for each match in Men’s singles, Women’s singles, Men’s doubles, Mixed doubles and Past Champion singles. As per ITF, the first serve in the first single-set match will be determined by a coin toss.
Similarly, during the Final Match tiebreaker, a coin toss will decide who serves first. As per expected pattern of scoring, each game won by a player adds 1 point to the teams’ points and therefore, the team which wins most games at the end of the five single-set matches wins the match tie. During the course of the IPTL, a shot clock will show the countdown between points and change over. A maximum of 20 seconds will be permitted between each game point, and a maximum of 3 minutes between each singles match.
If a player gets injured during a single-set match, he cannot be replaced. The team secures the current game total, but loses the set with the maximum games played. In the next set, the injured player can be replaced by a substitute for another set.
Other rules of the IPTL will be same as those prescribed by the ITF with minor variants. The team winning most games across 5 single-set matches played wins the match tie, with 4 points added to the tally in the team standing. If the losing team accumulates more than 20 game points, they win 2 points in the team standing. As per a unique rule in IPTL, every team will be entitled to call a Power Point once in each single-set match when on the receiver’s side. After that the next point played will be counted double. As an example, a player trailing 15:0 can directly get to 15:30 by winning the Power Point. If the score is tied at the end of five single-set matches, a 7-point men’s singles Shoot-out will be played. The result will count as a game-point won. The final single-set match of each match-tie will be played until; a) the leading team in the match tie wins the fifth and final single-set match or; b) the trailing team wins the fifth match and is still behind in overall games points won. In such a s case, the match will continue until either the trailing team has won enough games to equal the overall score, in which case the Shoot-out rule applies; or the leading team wins one game, and therefore wins the match tie.