The International Premiere Tennis League (IPTL) is kicking off the first leg of its four-country tour today at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. The tournament will feature the likes of superstars Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray, Serena Williams, and Ana Ivanovic along with some of the game’s biggest names both past and present.
The 3-day event will feature match-ups between the different teams that comprise the team tennis league, namely the Manila Mavericks, the DBS Singapore Slammers, the Micromax Indian Aces, and the UAE Royals.
Headlining the home team are team captains Maria Sharapova and Andy Murray with teammates Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Carlos Moya, Daniel Nestor, Kirsten Flipkens, and player-coach Filipino-American doubles specialist Treat Huey.
There will be two matches a day with each match following a set of each category: Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Mixed Doubles, and Past Champions Singles.
“Our tagline is to ‘Break the Code’ and while we aren’t disrespecting the game of tennis we have added a lot of flavor to the game,” said IPTL COO Eric Gottschalk in a pre-event press conference held Thursday afternoon.
Some of the “flavor” the IPTL has added to the game are time limits for each set, a shot clock, coaches timeouts, a “happiness power point”, and shoot-outs in the event of a tie. The order of play will also only be finalized 45 minutes before the start of each match.
“Breaking the code by breaking the rules,” according to Gottschalk will make the game more exciting and more accessible to fans, especially to TV audiences.
Apart from the complete line-up of the Manila Mavericks, confirmed stars participating in the Manila leg of the IPTL are Serena Williams, Tomas Berdych, Lleyton Hewitt, Daniela Hantuchova, Pat Rafter, Bruno Soares, and Nick Kyrgios of the Singapore Slammers; Ana Ivanovic, Gael Monfils, Sanja Mirza, Rohan Bopanna, and Fabrice Santoro of the Indian Aces; Marin Cilic, Goran Ivanisevic, Malek Jaziri, and Nenad Zimonjic of the UAE Royals.
Canadian and current world no. 7 Eugenie Bouchard was earlier slated to play for the UAE Royals in Manila but officially pulled out late Wednesday night citing an injury sustained at practice.
Two-time Grand Slam doubles winner Kristina Mladenovic will take her place in the UAE Royals squad.
Other notable absences in the Manila leg of the event are Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, and Caroline Wozniacki. Frenchman Richard Gasquet had been previously tapped to participate but he was replaced last October by current US Open Champion Marin Cilic.
From November 28 to November 30, the IPTL will be broadcast live by ABS-CBN and its subsidiary companies. Tickets are still available through SM TicketNet and will be available at the venue. Doors will open at 3pm at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Follow updates from the International Premiere Tennis League here at Tiebreaker Times.