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World No 1 Rafael Nadal is understood to be the highest-profile player
committed to the International Premier Tennis League. The controversial new
competition, developed along the lines of the successful Indian Premier
League of cricket, will launch this coming weekend with an auction in Dubai.
Nadal is believed to be earning $1m (£600,000) a night for his contribution as
one of the “marquee” players in a scheme developed by Mahesh Bhupathi, the
Indian doubles player who is branching out into the world of business.
According to the ground rules, players who have been No 1 or who have won a
slam will be able to nominate which matches they play, and so avoid.
The competition will be staged between Nov 28 and Dec 20 in five cities –
Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Singapore and Hong Kong – and each team will
bid for its players on Sunday at the Oberoi hotel in Dubai. There are at
least three players of the women’s top ten who are also understood to have
committed to the project, led by the two-time Australian Open champion
The former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki and the Polish No 1 Agnieszka
Radwanska are believed to have put their names down but Roger Federer is not
thought to be involved. As for Andy Murray, he is still in discussions with
Bhupathi, who briefly had a role on Murray’s commercial team last year
before he became too involved in this project and set off on his own path.
The IPTL has had a troubled gestation but one tennis insider said last night
that “Although the players are still sceptical, nobody wants to miss out on
a possible money spinner, so a lot of them are putting their names down for
Friday’s reveal. When the money starts being paid into their accounts,
that’s when they will start believing that this concept is for real.”