24 champs make a stand at S'pore leg

A plethora of hard hitters and sleek slicers have put their names down for the Singapore leg of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) from Dec 2 to 4.

Women's world No. 1 Serena Williams and multiple grand slam winners Andre Agassi and Patrick Rafter will lead the Singapore Slammers team at the Indoor Stadium.

Also among the star-studded line-up of 24 champions who have committed to play here are Australian fan favourite Lleyton Hewitt, in-form Serbian Ana Ivanovic and fast-rising Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.

The Republic is the second stop in the four-leg league which features top ATP & WTA players from the past and present in a US$1 million (S$1.27 million) team tennis competition.

In a brief YouTube message, four-time Australian Open winner Agassi, 44, said: "I look forward to playing with the Singapore Slammers in the IPTL.

"Please come out and support us and have a lot of fun.

"I can't wait to be there."

The IPTL introduces a five single-set match format where every set features a different player in each category (men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, mixed doubles and past champions singles).

The unique scoring system - in which every game counts, and the team that win the most games from the five sets, win the match - aims to keep matches competitive until the very last point.

Mahesh Bhupathi, IPTL's founder and managing director, said: "I wanted to bring new ideas and innovations to tennis and expose the best players to parts of Asia which have traditionally not been featured in the tennis calendar. By creating a shorter match format, we aim to attract new fans to our sport.

"Secondly, for the first time, broadcasters are able to schedule matches and announce player line-ups, while fans are able to see the biggest past and present stars up close and personal, all within a three-hour match play."

Besides the Slammers, the other teams are the Roger Federer-led Indian Aces, the Manila Mavericks and the United Arab Emirates Falcons. They will play 24 round-robin matches across four cities.

The league opens serve on Nov 28 in Manila before heading to Singapore, New Delhi (Dec 6-8) and Dubai (Dec 11-13).

Tickets for the Singapore leg, which range from $49 to $180 for one-day passes, can be purchased at www.sportshubtix.sg.

This article was first published on Sep 26, 2014.
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