Apprehensions over a new concept in tennis have disappeared as top international players have embraced IPTL, feels Mahesh Bhupathi, whose league will feature a marquee match between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the capital this season.
The International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) will have its Delhi leg from December 10-12 this year with legendary Nadal to lead defending champions Indian Aces.
"The fact is that players loved it, embraced it. As Novak (Djokovic) said no one expected it to be that competitive. So we had all the ticks in the boxes we wanted. Everyone is talking about this (IPTL) on the tour this year and I know all the players are going to practice harder. They don't want to let their team down," Bhupathi said at a press conference with the co-owners of Indian Aces.
His former doubles partner Leander Paes is set to play in IPTL this year for Japan Warriors and Bhupathi says Paes' presence will be a plus for the League.
This time the tournament will have five teams with the inclusion of Japan Warriors, who will join the Aces, the UAE Royals, Philippine Mavericks and Singapore Slammers. The event will start in Japan and conclude in Singapore.
For company, Nadal will have Frenchman Gael Monfils, Pole Agnieszka Radwanska, Frenchman Fabrice Santoro, Croat Ivan Dodig, and two of India's highly successful doubles stars -- women's World No.1 Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna.
A major highlight this season will be the much anticipated encounter between long standing on-court rivals, Nadal and Federer, who was the marquee player for Aces last year and will turn out for Royals this time around. Indian fans will get to be a part of the match-up when the Aces face Royals in Delhi on December 12.
"There are few people, who can entertain on the courts and this is a fast format. When it comes to net play he is one of the fastest players in the world. It is going to be fun for the fans," Bhupathi said.
Last year Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, world number seven in women singles, and Paes had played in the Champions Tennis League (CTL) and this year, they are a part of IPTL.
Asked if there was an agreement with CTL on getting these players, Bhupathi said: "We approached them and they were picked in the players draft. There is overlap of four days in the two league this year."
Bhupathi said he won't be able to play for the next few months due to his engagement in hosting IPTL.
"For the next 4-5 months the focus is on IPTL."
Asked if he play next year on Tour, he replied,"Your guess is as good as mine."
Gulshan Jhurani, co-owner of Indian Aces, said they will continue to sell seasonal-tickets as it suits all but they are trying to negotiate with the Delhi government to reduce the entertainment tax on tickets.
"67% of the fans came from outside the NCR area in the first season. We are talking to the state government and should it happen, the benefit will be passed on to the fans."
Jhurani also said that efforts will be made to enhance the consumer (fan) experience.
"The merchandise will be larger and tickets, booked online, will be delivered at home this year. The number of toilets will be increased and it will be cleaner. We have also secured a lot of parking space inside the IG stadium (venue)," Jhurani said.
Last year, Micromax was title sponsor of the Indian franchise but the owners have not decided on the same this year.