Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and Serena Williams are among the players who have been drafted in the inaugural International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), which is scheduled to be held from November 28 to December 14. Four Asian cities—Mumbai, Singapore, Bangkok, and Dubai—will field teams and play each other in a round-robin format at all four locations. Each match will consist of a five-set series with one set each of men's, women's, doubles, mixed doubles, and legends competition.
A fifth city was expected to participate, but only four appeared on the official roster released on Sunday.
Nearly $24 million was spent assembling the player field, according to a press release, with reports suggesting that top names like Nadal may receive $1 million per match. Marquee names are expected to be able to pick how much they want to play.
The ambitious and pricey new venture is being driven by top doubles player Mahesh Bhupathi, who began the sports agency Globosports, and is based on the success of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in cricket.
"I think it’s a fantastic concept if it happens, obviously," Djokovic said last week.
Other top players, like Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, and prominent Asian pros Na Li and Kei Nishikori have not signed up. "Firstly, I want to see whether it takes off or not," Federer told the Gulf News. "I know a lot of people have invested in it or are part of it. Anywhere where tennis grows is a good thing, so I hope it takes off and becomes very successful. In Asia, there is enormous potential, in places like China and India due to the amount of people that live there and the excitement they have for tennis."
There have also been questions about whether the league will receive the financial backing required to sustain it, as well as its scheduling during the offseason, which many players already complain is not long enough.
"I think it will be great for tennis if it can be pulled off," Sharapova and Li's agent, Max Eisenbud, told CNN. "I just don't see how it could ever work, but I hope I am wrong."
In a column for Le Parisien, Montpellier tournament director Patrice Dominguez described the IPTL as having "no sporting interest and no credibility," and said it was "wasting the health of the players."
The teams are as follows, with each allowed to name up to a total of 10 players over the next few weeks:
Mumbai: Rafael Nadal, Ana Ivanovic, Gael Monfils, Sania Mirza, Rohan Bopanna, Pete Sampras, Fabrice Santoro
Dubai: Novak Djokovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Janko Tipsarevic, Malek Jaziri, Nenad Zimonic, Goran Ivanisevic, Martina Hingis
Bangkok: Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Victoria Azarenka, Daniel Nestor, Kirsten Flipkens, Carlos Moya
Singapore: Tomas Berdych, Serena Williams, Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt, Daniela Hantuchova, Bruno Soares, Patrick Rafter, Nick Krygios.