No Roger Federer, Serena Williams in IPTL as demonitization hits
Two of the biggest stars who were due to feature in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), Roger Federer and Serena Williams, have pulled out of this year’s edition. Both Federer and Williams were scheduled to play in the final leg of this season in Hyderabad from 9 to 11 December, 2016.
As reported in ESPN, Mahesh Bhupathi, who is the founder and managing director of IPTL, cited the current economic situation in the country as the primary reason for the difficulties faced. He said, "We have had challenges this year, and we were hoping to get past them.
"With the current economic climate in India and the uncertainty of spending money, I reached out to both Roger and Serena to explain the situation. They have been both been very supportive of the IPTL the first two seasons and we look forward to bring them in future years."
The tournament certainly loses a bit of its sheen with the withdrawal of the two legendary tennis players. Earlier, the edition was already reduced to a three-city affair from the usual five cities that was prevalent in the previous editions. And now, they have suffered yet another major setback.
Fans around the world were excited about the appearance of both Federer and Williams as neither of them had played competitively in the last few months. The Swiss legend has been forced out of the circuit in July following a knee surgery. Multiple grand slam winner, Serena, had last featured in the US Open after which she suffered a shoulder injury. She was due to be back in the circuit in the Singapore leg beginning today.
According to a report in the New York Times, Federer's agent Tony Godsick commented that his withdrawal was due to "some problems and uncertainties surrounding the IPTL". However, he went on to add that Federer "hopes to play in future years if the IPTL continues".
The organisers of the league were unavailable for further comments but many are speculating that the IPTL are fighting financial issues. The significant reduction in the number of high-profile players has led to fears about the future f the event itself. In previous editions, besides Federer and Williams, the likes of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal have played in the IPTL.
After world number 5, Kei Nishikori ended his commitments for the year by featuring in Tokyo over the weekend, the highest ranked player left in the tournament is world number 10 Tomas Berdych.