The third season of IPTL, the exhibition league that has drawn many of the world’s top tennis players over the first two seasons of its existence, is supposed to dawn in about two weeks.
That’s the theory, anyway.
In the last few weeks, the plan has gone from five cities – to potentially none at all. The latest word is that it may be a limited go, in three cities, two matches each, with many of the top names no longer participating.
PTL founder Mahesh Bhupathi, via e-mail, told Open Court that dates and cities will be announced on Thursday, less than 10 days before the league is scheduled to kick off Dec. 2.
But offers to top players like Novak Djokovic, Angelique Kerber, Canadian Milos Raonic, Maria Sharapova and possibly others have been rescinded, a reliable source tells Open Court. Haven’t heard anything concrete about Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal.
There was plenty of promotion before the first season – remember those shots of Ana Ivanovic playing flight attendant on the IPTL plane? By the second season, the furor seemed to already have subsided quite a bit, with the crowds smaller. Many top players still showed, though, lured by some pretty nifty paycheques just to transfer their off-season training to Asia for a few days.
A couple of weeks ago, the site actually had specific dates and cities for the upcoming season (five cities in all – see above). But right now (and that applies to the phone app as well), that has disappeared.
The IPTL Facebook page has done some promotional videos, most recently with Maria Sharapova on Nov. 3. But nothing with any details about the upcoming season.
The Singapore Slammers, scheduled to host the league for the Dec. 6-8 midweek sessions, haven’t updated their site since the end of last season. They are linking to the website where tickets went on sale Saturday, though the page on the site still has details from last year’s matches.
Not sure the UAE Royals have even updated their site since before the start of last season.
The Indian Aces are Tweeting plenty – but nothing concrete about schedule, players, anything of immediate interest.
Their website seems to be, um, under construction. Not the ideal time for it.
The Japan Warriors site has been the most active, announcing just a few days ago that home-country hero Kei Nishikori (along with Hingis, Safin, Verdasco, Fernando Gonzalez and Jean-Julien Rojer) will make up the team. Japan is scheduled to host Dec. 2-4, to open the season. Tickets have been on sale via its site since Nov. 6.
So what’s the deal? A story to keep an eye on.
(In a related note, it doesn’t seem as though the India-based Champions’ Tennis League, which did a similar thing on a smaller scale and quickly lost the battle for marquee players with the IPTL, is ready to start another season, either).