Novak in S'pore side for 2 years

World No. 1 and three-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic will spearhead the Singapore Slammers' challenge in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL).
World No. 1 and three-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic will spearhead the Singapore Slammers' challenge in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL).PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
IPTL founder Mahesh Bhupathi at the launch yesterday.
IPTL founder Mahesh Bhupathi at the launch yesterday.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Republic to host final as Japan become fifth IPTL team, with adjustments made to format

The world's best tennis player will be here in December - and will also play for the Singapore Slammers next year in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL).

IPTL founder and Indian doubles player Mahesh Bhupathi said yesterday that world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the headline act for the Slammers and who recently won his third Wimbledon singles title, will be here when the Singapore leg of the five-stop league takes place from Dec 18-20.

In town for the launch of the event, Bhupathi also revealed that in a bid to offer the teams and event more continuity, the line-ups of all five teams will remain unchanged for two seasons.

The Slammers also include Australian star Nick Kyrgios, former world No. 1 Carlos Moya of Spain, up-and-coming player Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.

"Each star player of every team last year played their home leg at least," he told The Straits Times.

  • INTERNATIONAL PREMIER TENNIS LEAGUE

  • What: Mixed-team tournament featuring an abbreviated format of tennis

    Who: Past and current greats including Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, as well as up and coming players like Borna Coric and Nick Kyrgios

    When: Begins on Dec 2 in Japan; Dec 18-20 in Singapore (Final on Dec 20)

    Where: Five legs - Japan, the Philippines, India, United Arab Emirates, Singapore

    Tickets: Season passes, from $195, are on sale from Sports Hub Tix. A $50 discount will be given to all tickets purchased before end-August.

    Day tickets will be made available at a later date.

    For more information: Visit www.iptlworld.com

"This year, (players like) Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Serena Williams will all be playing home and away legs (too)."

Tweaks have been made to this year's format, with the biggest change seen in a final clash between the top two teams of the league, rather than sticking to a round-robin league format.

Teams will take turns to stage the final, with Singapore the first to take on hosting duties from Dec 18-20.

The IPTL is a mixed team tournament modelled largely on cricket's highly successful Indian Premier League.

It features past and current players using an abbreviated format which incorporates innovations such as a shot clock, power points and one-set matches.

The unique and time-sensitive nature of the event raised eyebrows at first but was largely well received by fans across its four stops - the Philippines, United Arab Emirates, India and Singapore - in its debut last year.

Japan are the new addition to this year's league and will have Kei Nishikori and Maria Sharapova on their side.

More than 27,000 spectators attended the three-day event in Singapore last year, which featured world No. 1 Williams and Andre Agassi in the Singapore team.

Said Bhupathi: "Last year was a learning curve for us. A lot of people embraced the format, the players loved it and the fans took to the new innovations.

"The format now is still going to be very time-sensitive.

"This year, we're looking to make it bigger and better."

Holding a final will also inject a greater element of excitement, said Bhupathi.

"We wanted to do a little more in Singapore because (fans here) already get to see world-class tennis in October," he said, referring to the WTA Finals that feature the season's top eight singles players and doubles teams.

"The fact that there's a final will be even better. We will see the champion team be crowned here."

In celebration of the Republic's Jubilee year, there will be a $50 discount on all season pass tickets purchased from today until the end of the month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2015, with the headline 'Novak in S'pore side for 2 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe