CHENNAI: Season three of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) suffered its biggest setback on Tuesday as it was announced that 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer and 22-time Major winner Serena Williams will not participate this time. Initially, both were scheduled to be part of the December 9-11 line-up in Hyderabad. The exit of the two top players has robbed the IPTL of its sheen.
However, according to Mahesh Bhupathi, IPTL founder and managing director, it was he who took the decision, asking them to stay away from this year’s edition because of demonetisation and prevailing economic conditions. “We still have our agreement but I explained the situation to Roger and Serena. They understood,” the 42-year-old told Express. Bhupathi also blamed poor ticket sales as one of the major factors that forced his hand.
“Ticket sales have suffered a huge blow. If the team owners and I pay a lot of money for players to come then we’re putting ourselves in a major hole and it’s not worth the risk.” This sudden surprise means tickets prices, which were initially available for three-day pass rates of `15,000 and `42,000, have now been slashed markedly, with the present rates at `1,500, `3,000 and `12,500 for daily passes.
“The Hyderabad leg will be held, but we’ve slashed the prices this morning. We’re offering upgrades and refunds to anyone who has bought tickets already. While there’s a lull this year, hopefully, we’ll bounce back next season,” Bhupathi added. The first two seasons of the IPTL featured 13 different singles Slam winners each. Players on the 2014 roster shared 79 Majors between them, while in 2015, the total was 70.
This year, there are six different champions and the haul between them is 11 Slams. The line-up now seems similar to Vijay Amritraj’s Champions Tennis League, which, interestingly, hasn’t been held in 2016. That’s not all, there has also been speculation that the IPTL could possibly be facing a cash crunch and paying the players has been difficult.
Third time’s the charm? Not according to stats
New Delhi 2014: 13 singles champions with 79 overall Grand Slams.
Tickets prices range from Rs 3,240 to Rs 49,680.
New Delhi 2015: 13 singles champions with 70 overall Grand Slams.
Tickets prices range from RS 4,000 to Rs 48,000.
Hyderabad 2016: 6 singles champions with 11 overall Grand Slams.
Tickets prices range from Rs 1,500 to Rs 12,500.