Correction: A previous edition of this article mentioned Roger Federer would be participating, as suggested in interviews by Mahesh Bhupathi. This is not the case any longer.
The International Premier Tennis League, the annual team tennis event that since its inception has featured Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic among other prominent names, will be held again this year, organizers have announced but in a truncated format.
Rather than its usual 5 venues, this year’s event will be held in three countries – India, Singapore, and Japan. Organizers have revealed that four teams will be playing, but have not yet specified which four. Given the venues, however, it is evident the Indian Aces, the Singapore Slammers and the Japan Warriors will all be participating this year – with the fourth team likely to be the UAE Royals, who were last year led by Roger Federer.
Founder and former World No. 1 Mahesh Bhupathi made the announcement earlier today, also declaring that the Indian matches would be hosted in Hyderabad. The city, which is considered India’s tennis capital, is home to women’s doubles No. 1 and hosts a number of tennis academies – including one run by former No. 1 Rafael Nadal.
The India leg will be held on the 9th, 10th and 11th of December. Bhupathi revealed also that the initial plan had been to host events in both Bengaluru and Hyderabad, but the demonetization announcements of the past few weeks left organizers reeling and reconsidering events.
Organizers revealed they were unsure if people would “spend money and support the tournament in these circumstances.” In an interview this week, Bhupathi said "It was always a plan to take the league to other Indian cities so that the tennis fan can enjoy watching the best stars in action. The first two years we went with Delhi. This year the plan was to stage it in Hyderabad and Bangalore. However, we aren't sure if in the current climate doing two cities was pragmatic. Hence we have decided to stick to Hyderabad.”
They plan to revert to the original five-team, five venue format in 2017, Bhupathi said in an interview with Boria Majumdar, with Federer returning to original team Indian Aces for what is likely to be the last time in his career. Since then, however, it has been revealed Federer will not be participating.
The Indian Aces, Japan Warriors, Singapore Slammers and UAE Royals will be the four teams participating this time around; the UAE Royals will miss out on a home venue.
At the IPTL Press Conference held in Hyderabad yesterday, Bhupathi revealed there was “one top-4 player who would be participating,” but did not reveal who it was.