Djokovic leads UAE Royals at inaugural IPTL


Indian tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi's dream of revolutionising the sport with a new team competition will come to fruition when the inaugural International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) gets underway across four countries culminating with the finale in Dubai in December.

Some of the world's best players such as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Serena Williams have been roped in by the four franchises - Manila 'Mavericks', Singapore 'Slammers', Indian 'Aces' and UAE 'Royals' - for this event which starts on November 28 and carries total prize money of $1 million.

The Dubai-based franchise, which will feature Djokovic, Richard Gasquet, Janko Tipsarevic, Goran Ivanisevic, Caroline Wozniacki, Martina Hingis, Nenad Zimonjic and Malek Jaziri, was officially launched at the Hamdan Sports Complex, venue for the December 11-13 Dubai-leg of the IPTL, on Tuesday.

UAE Royals is owned by Ace Ventures an entity comprising a group of friends passionate about tennis. The team co-owners are Sachin Gadoya, Sawan Ravani, Rahul Saharia, Kaushal Majithia, Chirag Vora and Kunal Bansal.

“We are trying to create something unique in the sport of tennis. Tennis is a very individual sport and the players don’t often get to play team competitions other than Davis Cup or Fed Cup, so the fact that were able to get some of the biggest names in tennis agreeable to play in our event makes it one of our main USPs," said Bhupathi.

“When we wanted to promote the IPTL the obvious growth markets for tennis over the past ten years has definitely been the Middle East, the Far East and Asia. Tennis has blossomed in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and China in so many different ways, so we felt that this was the right region to hold the event,” he added.

“Having played in the inaugural Dubai Tennis Championships, I know the potential in Dubai and I have seen the event blossom into one of the leading tournaments in the sport today. We’re so excited to have everyone supporting this event, including the Dubai Sports Council (DSC) and Tennis Emirates, and we hope to make it something everyone in the UAE will be looking forward to witnessing every year,” said Bhupathi, a five-time Dubai Tennis Championship double winner.

“The ITPL format will be very attractive to broadcasters and fans alike. We have changed the traditional scoring format to speed up the games and allow us to expose up to 24 different players in one evening,” he explained.

“On the broadcasting side, they will, for the first time, be able to schedule predictable starting and finish times of each match. We want to break away from the traditional etiquettes of tennis to attract a new audience to the sport,” said Bhupathi.

Each tie will consist of five single-set matches – men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, mixed doubles and past champions singles.

Each games counts as one point for the team points total and the team that wins the most games in the five set wins the match.

IPTL will feature live entertainment, a running shot clock and many more features that will 'Break the Code' of the traditional etiquette of tennis.

Players can call for a 'time-out' in the middle of a game, team can declare a 'power point', once in each match, which means the next point played will count as double. If the set is tied, there will be a seven-point 'shoot-out'.

“So, here we are going to show them something different and it may change everyone’s mindset. It was time for innovations in tennis and, similar to what the IPL (Indian Premier League) has done in cricket, I imagine the IPTL will for tennis," said Bhupathi, founder of the IPTL.

“Congratulations to the IPTL for conceptualising such a unique sports product and the Dubai Sports Council is proud to partner with the organisers to make this a great success,” Dr Ahmed Sharif, the secretary general of the Dubai Sports Council.

"The Hamdan Sports Complex which has a seating capacity of over 12,000 is an ideal venue for the event," added Dr Sharif.

Tennis Emirates Vice-President Abdul Rahman Falaknaz hopes that the IPTL will help realise its dream of producing an Emirati champion.

“To have the best players in the world competing in this unique team tennis competition will only encourage more players to take up tennis and also help further develop the sport in the UAE,” he said.

The UAE Royals CEO Eric Gottschalk announced that tickets for the Dubai leg will go on sale from June 26.

"Our ticket prices start as low as Dh75 which entitles the holders to watch both daily team matches while the premium court side seat and VIP hospitality invitations are priced between Dh795 up to Dh1,295 per day," he said.

For ticket information visit