Singapore: Tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi, who is the brain behind the International Premier Tennis Leaque (IPTL), is hoping to include a team from China in future and have eight teams on board by 2020.
The inaugural edition of the USD 40 million event will feature four star-studded teams. The 24-match tournament, which will be played in a round-robin format, will start off in Manila from November 28-30.
Touching on the future of the tournament, Bhupathi said “Ideally, we would like to get to eight teams by 2020.”
Bhupathi hopes to include a team from China and play the tournament in a major Chinese city in the future.
“We are hoping for a big splash from the tournament,” he added.
“But we need to be sustainable and we don’t want to be too aggressive ? we want to make sure that along the lines other people also see it as a viable business model,” he told PTI during a visit to promote IPTL in Singapore.
Serena Williams, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have teamed up in the four teams from the Manila, Singapore, Delhi, and Dubai.
The Singapore leg of the tournament will be played from December 2 to 4, before it reaches Delhi (Dec 6-8) and Dubai (Dec 11-13).
Bhupathi said “We are going to live in 125 countries” and expect to reach 500 million homes.
“It is a revolutionary team tennis event breaking through the boundaries of traditional tennis formats,” Bhupathi pointed out.
The event is organized on franchise basis in each city.
It took Bhupathi almost three years to set up the format and finalise the tournament, which will have corporate world hosting hospitality suites and common man enjoying international tennis on a reasonably priced ticket.
The tournament in each city will have a wide range of entertainment and will be played in a carnival and festival type of environment.
Each match will be played for one-set only to keep the timing to about six hours from late afternoon to evening during the three-week period spread from Manila to Dubai.
Among the investors in the ITPL is legendary cricketer Sunil Gavaskar.
Gavaskar is chairman of the Singapore Franchise.