Slammers to serve all 'aces' here

Slammers to serve all 'aces' here

Singapore's entire roster for the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), a line-up that includes world No. 1 Serena Williams and Andre Agassi, have been confirmed to feature at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from Dec 2-4.

But local fans will have to wait at least another year to see Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in action.

IPTL founder Mahesh Bhupathi, the Indian doubles player, said at a media event at the Shangri-La Hotel yesterday that players are guaranteed to at least feature in each of their home legs.

This means Singapore will also get to watch world No. 5 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, former World No. 1 players Patrick Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, as well as Nick Kyrgios, the Australian teenager who famously defeated Nadal at Wimbledon this year.

Eight-time Grand Slam champion Agassi, in a video shown yesterday, spoke of how excited he was to be part of the event and was looking forward to playing for the Singapore Slammers.

Said Bhupathi: "Eighty per cent of each team will be at every away leg while the 'icons' will rotate instead of playing the whole season. We don't have Nadal and Djokovic coming for the first year. Next year, hopefully."

He revealed, however, that notable players who will play in Singapore include Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Team Manila), Gael Monfils and Serbian Ana Ivanovic (Indian Aces).

The IPTL is modelled after the success of cricket's Indian Premier League (IPL).

The mixed-team tournament will kick off its inaugural season in four cities (Manila, Singapore, Mumbai and Dubai), featuring a shorter and quicker format of tennis.

Innovations such as a shot clock, a "power point" and shoot-outs will be introduced to help spice things up.

Singapore Slammers co-owner Sunil Gavaskar, the Indian cricket legend, has hopes that a local player will feature for each side in time to come.

He said: "Having been a part of the governing council of the IPL, I thought this could match it in terms of innovation.

"I believe that (the IPTL) can go to places where there aren't many major tennis events or players, and help create an awareness and a buzz about the game."

Organisers are not concerned that fans here will not bite, despite the fact that the Singapore leg of the IPTL will take place just a little over a month after the Women's Tennis Association Finals, the season-ender for the women's tour, in October.

Said Vikas Gehlot, chief executive of the Singapore Slammers: "This is something that's never been done before."

Tickets for the Singapore leg of the IPTL go on sale from Aug 20 on Sports Hub Tix, and start from $80 for a one-day ticket.

This article was first published on August 05, 2014.
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