Maria Sharapova, IPTL
Tennis fans have warmed up to the IPTLReuters

Mahesh Bhupathi has labelled the launch of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) in Philippines last weekend as a success.

The inaugural edition of the IPTL, which kicked off in Manila on Friday, introduced a new shortened and faster format of tennis to the world audience.

Manila Mavericks, Singapore Slammers, Indian Aces and UAE Royals are the four teams competing in the inaugural edition. The four-city, team-based tournament also features most of the biggest names in the sport now, including Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.

However, some critics did not take to the format, dismissing it as a meaningless tournament, but the fans, who turned up in big numbers for every match so far, proved them wrong. And IPTL managing director Bhupathi has expressed his delight with the competition's success, and is hoping that it will revolutionise tennis around the globe.

"With the kind of high we started off in Manila we can safely say that we're off to a good start," the veteran Indian pointed out.

The competition will now move to Singapore, before heading to New Delhi and winding up in Dubai. Bhupathi revealed there are plans to add to the four teams in the future editions, but only gradually.

"The format has been accepted, which was our biggest risk. We just have to make sure we sustain this momentum going into the next three legs.

"We're going to make sure that it's planned well because obviously, we want to sustain this to 25 years, 30 years, and we want to make it something that both the fans and the players enjoy."

Bhupathi also insisted that the popularity of the IPTL will not be a threat to the traditional form of tennis in any manner.

"The Grand Slams will still be the four pillars of our sport because they are institutions on their own. But I think after what we've seen over the last three days there's a place for our format," the 40-year-old added.

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