Numbers and sports are no strangers, except, the numbers spoken of here are in several dollars that can intrigue, intimidate and inspire people all the same. International Tennis Premier League [ITPL] promises to be all that and more as it steps into the growing world of stamping players either "sold" or "unsold".
ITPL is a brain-child of India's tennis star Mahesh Bhupati and inspired by the ever-popular Indian Premier League [IPL] that brings in loads of revenue to cricket. Bhupati is turning a serious face to business by offering huge sums of money to top tennis players which is many times grander than the sum total of top paid IPL players.
ITPL is drawing the attention of tennis superstars worldwide including names like Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray and promises to be a money-spinner like no other. Although, Roger Federer is particular about what he chooses and doesn't seem like taking part in this year's ITPL. The tournament is said to be officially released this weekend in Dubai when bidders meet at an auction for players.
The Telegraph reported that Nadal is a "marquee" player who will stand a chance of earning $1m for a night's performance. Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Singapore and Hong Kong are the cities the tournament is planned to be held at mostly between November 28 and December 20. Victoria Azarenka is one of the top women players who is said to be interested in the format along with Caroline Wozniacki.
The number-game here is a double-edged weapon. It could make extraordinary players out of ordinary ones and vice versa. Hence, there will be scepticism surrounding the start of the tournament. Tennis has never lacked funding and sponsors, the top earning player is Roger Federer with a wholesome $79m followed by Nadal's $66m.
"Although the players are still sceptical, nobody wants to miss out on a possible money spinner, so a lot of them are putting their names down for Friday's reveal," sources told the Telegraph reflecting a similar dilemma IPL faced at the start. "When the money starts being paid into their accounts, that's when they will start believing that this concept is for real."