There doesn’t appear to be much appetite for the International Premier Tennis League among the world’s leading women players after Maria Sharapova and Li Na decided not to take part in the event.
Max Eisenbud, the agent of the two players, confirmed that that neither would be appearing in the team tournament that is set to make its debut in Asia in November.
It is a major blow for the organisers of the event – and for those who live tennis online – as Sharapova is the world’s richest female athlete and Li recently secured the second Grand Slam title of her career by winning the Australian Open in January.
A press release from nine months ago had said Li would be taking part in the League but Eisenbud has now revealed: “Maria and Li Na will not be participating.”
Mahesh Bhupathi is the man behind the event, which he sees as tennis’ equivalent of cricket’s Indian Premier League, but a failure to attract big names could lead to its downfall.
Roger Federer recently said: “Firstly, I want to see whether it takes off or not. I know a lot of people have invested in it or are part of it. Anywhere where tennis grows is a good thing, so I hope it takes off and becomes very successful.
“In Asia, there is enormous potential (for tennis to grow), in places like China and India due to the amount of people that live there and the excitement they have for tennis.”
The tournament will see five teams – based in Mumbai, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and another city yet to be officially revealed – play each other over a three-week period.
According to the bet365 tennis betting website, matches will be contested over five sets – one set in each of men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, mixed doubles and legends doubles.