Sky Sports will bring tennis fans all the excitement of the inaugural International Premier Tennis League as current champions, legends of the sport and upcoming talent go head-to-head across four iconic Asian cities this winter.
Modelled on successful sports franchise concepts such as cricket’s Indian Premier League and created to fulfill the increasing demand for top-level tennis in Asia, the IPTL is the first city-based professional tennis league in the world and will be played across four countries in four three-day round-robin tournaments.
In its first season, the multi-million dollar league will feature top tennis stars such as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and many others playing for four franchises in the Philippines, Singapore, India and the UAE.
The four star-studded teams – Micromax Indian Aces, Singapore Slammers, Manila Mavericks and the UAE Royals – will feature a total of 21 Grand Slam champions and 14 current and former world number players between them, giving Asian fans and newcomers the sport in the region the chance to see the biggest names in the sport in action at the end of a grueling tour season.
The IPTL concept is the brainchild of former Indian doubles star Mahesh Bhupathi, who runs Globosport, a sports management company, and it is thought that the new tournament will be seen in more than 125 countries around the world, with a potential broadcast reach of 300 million homes.
Each of the four teams bid for players in the auction held in Dubai back in March, all with budgets of up to £6.6 million to sign up the leading players in the world, as well as former tennis greats.
In addition to all the star players and unique city-franchise format, the IPTL also introduces a number of key rule changes to spice up the sport for the lucrative Asian audience.
The IPTL will adopt a more fast-paced format compared to anything never been seen before in tennis, with the league set to break the traditional etiquette in a number of ways in order to widen the event’s appeal beyond the ordinary tennis fan.
New features such as time-outs, power-points, shoot-outs, a running shot clock and exciting live in-game entertainment will be an essential part of all matches in the four different locations.
The sport’s traditional scoring format has been changed, which will speed up the games and enable the fans to experience up to 24 different players in one exhilarating evening.
Every match will be played over five sets but the difference is that one set will be contested in men’s singles, one in women’s singles, one in men’s doubles and one in mixed doubles, with no ad scoring, and if it remains level after four sets, the tie could come down to the ‘legends’ set at the end of each match.
The curtain raiser in the Philippines is set for the Smart Araneta Coliseum and the home fans will be cheering on a Manila Mavericks side spearheaded by Andy Murray, with the 2013 Wimbledon champion set to play alongside the likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Maria Sharapova and Carlos Moya.
Murray and the Mavericks will have their work cut out, though. The Singapore Slammers are led by current women’s world number one Serena Williams, the UAE Royals are captained by seven-time major champion Novak Djokovic and the Indian Aces can call upon both Roger Federer and Pete Sampras.
Commenting on the IPTL format, Bhupathi said: “We’ve got so me unbelievably strong teams. I think out of the 28 players that got drafted we have about 21 Grand Slam champions. We have 14 present and past number ones. It’s a pretty blockbuster field.”
The new International Premier Tennis League looks set to deliver high-octane action and Sky Sports viewers in the UK will be able to follow all the action from all four match days during the inaugural competition.
Visit the official IPTL website for information about the tournament, including team line-ups and results.
.ROUND 1 – MANILA (Philippines) Friday 28th November INDIAN ACES v SINGAPORE SLAMMERS LIVE: 8.00am-11.30am Sky Sports 3 MANILA MAVERICKS v UAE ROYALS LIVE: 11.30am-2.30pm Sky Sports 3 Saturday 29th November UAE ROYALS v SINGAPORE SLAMMERS LIVE: 8.00am-11.30am Sky Sports 3 MANILA MAVERICKS v INDIAN ACES LIVE: 11.30am-2.30pm Sky Sports 3 Sunday 30th November UAE ROYALS v INDIAN ACES LIVE: 8.00am-11.30am Sky Sports 3 MANILA MAVERICKS v SINGAPORE SLAMMERS LIVE: 11.30am-2.30pm Sky Sports 3
ROUND 2 – SINGAPORE CITY (Singapore) Tuesday 2nd December INDIAN ACES v UAE ROYALS LIVE: 8.00am-11.30am Sky Sports 3 SINGAPORE SLAMMERS v MANILA MAVERICKS LIVE: 11.30am-2.30pm Sky Sports 3 Wednesday 3rd December MANILA MAVERICKS v UAE ROYALS LIVE: 8.00am-11.30am Sky Sports 3 SINGAPORE SLAMMERS v INDIAN ACES LIVE: 11.30am-2.30pm Sky Sports 3 Thursday 4th December MANILA MAVERICKS v INDIAN ACES LIVE: 8.00am-11.30am Sky Sports 3 SINGAPORE SLAMMERS v UAE ROYALS LIVE: 11.30am-2.30pm Sky Sports 3
ROUND 3 – NEW DELHI (India) Saturday 6th December UAE ROYALS v SINGAPORE SLAMMERS LIVE: 10.30am-12.30pm Sky Sports 2 / 12.30pm-2.00pm Sky Sports 2 Red Button INDIAN ACES v MANILA MAVERICKS LIVE: 2.00pm-5.00pm Sky Sports 2 Red Button Sunday 7th December MANILA MAVERICKS v UAE ROYALS LIVE: 10.30am-2.00pm Sky Sports 3 INDIAN ACES v SINGAPORE SLAMMERS LIVE: 2.00pm-4.55pm Sky Sports 3 Monday 8th December MANILA MAVERICKS v SINGAPORE SLAMMERS LIVE: 10.30am-2.00pm Sky Sports 3 INDIAN ACES v UAE ROYALS LIVE: 2.00pm-5.00pm Sky Sports 3
ROUND 4 – DUBAI (United Arab Emirates) Thursday 11th December INDIAN ACES v SINGAPORE SLAMMERS LIVE: 12.00pm-3.30pm Sky Sports 3 UAE ROYALS v MANILA MAVERICKS LIVE: 3.30pm-6.30pm Sky Sports 3 Friday 12th December MANILA MAVERICKS v SINGAPORE SLAMMERS LIVE: 12.00pm-3.30pm Sky Sports 3 UAE ROYALS v INDIAN ACES LIVE: 3.30pm-6.30pm Sky Sports 3 Saturday 13th December MANILA MAVERICKS v INDIAN ACES LIVE: 12.00pm-3.30pm Sky Sports 3 UAE ROYALS v SINGAPORE SLAMMERS LIVE: 3.30pm-6.30pm Sky Sports 3