The IPTL: What you need to know

Mahesh Bhupathi (L) has been a driving force behind the IPTL . (GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

The International Premier Tennis League is looking like a serious prospect. Mahesh Bhupathi and Justin Gimelstob explained to the press why they're excited about the project.

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Speaking to the press in Paris on Friday evening, Mahesh Bhupathi and Justin Gimelstob made a twenty minute presentation about their plans for the new International Premier Tennis League. The event has already garnered plenty of media attention and many believe that it could change the landscape of the game.

Gimelstob's enthusiasm for the tournament was almost tangible as he told reporters:

"It's quite ambitious, we're well aware of that. If it was easy, everyone would do it, it would already be done. We know it's going to be a tough endeavour, we believe in it."

"It's going to be fun, it's going to be entertaining, sports entertainment colliding at an incredible level…live sports are in tremendous demand and we believe the IPTL hits that demand straight on. Our goal is for a launch in 2014 in the fall."

Bhupathi then took the stage and explained in more detail what we can expect from the Asian-based event. "Bringing the concept of entertainment to tennis is, I think, what we're doing here." He likens it the the Indian Premier League in cricket, which has so far been a hit with the fans. "We recognise that tennis is an individual sport, but it's an ambitious plan to make it into a team atmosphere and make a league out of it."

"The format, when two teams play each other, for example if Singapore plays Hong Kong, there's five sets of tennis. There's going to be men's singles, men's doubles, women's singles, mixed doubles and a legend's singles in the men's category." Gimelstob was quick to interject that these cities were just possibilities, and that nothing is nailed on just yet.

"Each match is going to be no ad scoring, first to six with tie-breakers at 5-5," continued Bhupathi. "We're kind of making it for TV, controlling the time of the match. The whole thing, including a ten minute break between the third and fourth set is going to be three hours. We feel the networks are pretty excited about this, we've got a great response from TV."

To Bhupathi and Gimelstob's credit, they've got some big names lined up for the IPTL. Their promotional video featured Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Pete Sampras and several other star players. They all seem to be in support of the proposed league.

To add to this, the prospect of a draft for the players has been suggested as a major feature of the tournament, as they aim to emulate the drama and excitement caused by the NFL and NBA drafts.

"The draft we feel is a really unique component of this," said Gimelstob. "They have it in other sports, but it'll really show value, it'll be live, it'll be fun. It's a big part of other sports, it's a big entertainment spectacle."

Bhupathi elaborated in more detail:

"We're making it a requirement for each team to have at least six players on the roster. They can have a maximum of ten players, but only seven are available to play on any given night so they can obviously rotate. You know the draft is, we have five categories of players in the men's and women's singles. Each category will have a base price, the players are slotted into that category depending on their ranking, or their popularity, or their potential in the case of the younger generation. And, the owners, it's an open market. They're bidding, and the players literally go to the highest bidder."

So there you have it. The IPTL could be a major development in the tennis world or the idea could fizzle out. Bhupathi and Gimelstob clearly don't lack drive and ambition though, so the IPTL could well be on its way in 2014.


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The IPTL: What you need to know

The International Premier Tennis League is looking like a serious prospect. Mahesh Bhupathi and Justin Gimelstob explained to the press why they're excited about the project.

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