Federer thrills Indian fans by replacing Nadal in inaugural IPTL

It proved to be a frantic 24 hours for Mahesh Bhupathi and his brainchild, the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL)—a brand-new competition styled on cricket’s Indian Premier League.

No sooner had he announced that Rafael Nadal, his headline act for the India-based team Micromax Indian Aces….

We regret to announce that due to health reasons, #RafaelNadal will not be playing in the #IPTL. We’re rooting for you, #GetWellSoonRafa!

…than he followed it with even bigger news: The Spaniard’s place would be taken by Roger Federer.

Make way for the newest #IndianAce! Watch @rogerfederer create history at #IPTL. #BreakTheCode #MicromaxIndianAces

Nadal’s withdrawal from the tournament, which will take place in four cities across the Middle East and Asia during the first fortnight of December, is said to be precautionary after missing the entire North American US Open Series with a wrist injury that has sidelined him since his fourth-round exit at Wimbledon.

Nadal is scheduled to return to the tour for the Asian swing, beginning with the China Open in Beijing next week followed by the Shanghai Masters, before returning to Europe for the indoor season that culminates at the World Tour Finals in London.

As for Federer, it will be a dream come true for his huge fan following in India—but perhaps a surprise decision bearing in mind that the world No3 has already won more matches this season than anyone else, is lined up for Shanghai, Basel, the Paris Masters and the World Tour Finals, and on top of that, is part of Switzerland’s bid for a first Davis Cup in Lille.

Last week, Federer also announced he would be playing Stan Wawrinka in Zurich in “The Match for Africa 2” in aid of the Roger Federer Foundation. It would seem that the 33-year-old father-of-four has been re-energised by missing so much of last year with back injury, and perhaps also by his link-up with his childhood idol Stefan Edberg as ‘inspiring’ coach.

Federer will surely have been encouraged to opt into an event aimed at raising the profile of tennis in the burgeoning Asian market as much by the company he will keep as by his own huge fan-base. The retired 14-time Grand Slam champion Pete Sampras is also making his debut playing appearance in India for this Delhi-based arm of the four-team event.

The format is also very player-friendly, designed as it is to appeal to new and old fans as well as international broadcasters. Each match comprises five sets, but with only one being played by each member of the team:

  • Men’s singles
  • Women’s singles
  • Men’s doubles
  • Mixed doubles
  • Past champion singles

The other three teams will be based in Manila, Singapore and Dubai, with each of the four hosting one of the legs of a competition that is predicted to net $29.7 million in prize money.

Victoria Azarenka was in the original line-up for the Philippines, but is now replaced by Maria Sharapova.

Manila, 28-30 November

  • Andy Murray
  • Maria Sharapova
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
  • Carlos Moya
  • Daniel Nestor
  • Treat Huey
  • Kirsten Flipkens

Singapore, 2-4 December

  • Andre Agassi
  • Serena Williams
  • Tomas Berdych
  • Lleyton Hewitt
  • Patrick Rafter
  • Daniela Hantuchova
  • Bruno Soares
  • Nick Kyrgios

Delhi, 6-8 December

  • Roger Federer
  • Pete Sampras
  • Ana Ivanovic
  • Gael Monfils
  • Rohan Bopanna
  • Sania Mirza
  • Fabrice Santoro

Dubai, 11-13 December

  • Novak Djokovic
  • Caroline Wozniacki
  • Goran Ivanisevic
  • Richard Gasquet
  • Nenad Zimonjic
  • Eugenie Bouchard
  • Malek Jaziri

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