International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) founder Mahesh Bhupathi has stated that the organisers are expecting a massive response from tennis fans in the country as the inaugural edition of the tournament prepares to start its India leg.
The IPTL, which kicked off in Manila last week, introduced a new shorter and faster format of tennis to the world audience. The exciting format, team-based play and the presence of top players, a DJ and cheerleaders have made the league quite popular already.
Manila Mavericks, Singapore Slammers, Indian Aces and UAE Royals are the four teams competing in the IPTL this year. Fans turned up in big numbers for every match in both Philippines and Singapore, and Bhupathi is expecting a similar - if not bigger - response in India now.
The New Delhi leg kicks off on Saturday, with Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Lleyton Hewitt, Tomas Berdych and Ana Ivanovic all set to be in action, along with the legendary Pete Sampras.
"There is a lot of buzz around the fact that the likes of Roger, Novak and Sampras will be playing in Delhi. They too are very excited about coming to India. Manila was amazing, Singapore was good too, now I hope the fans welcome players with open arms," PTI quoted the doubles veteran as saying.
"I do have high hopes. How successful it is we have to wait and watch. I just hope Indian fans take it to next level."
Meanwhile, there has been some criticism of the Shot Clock, which aims to restrict each point to 20 seconds. However, Bhupathi insisted that the format is time-based, adding that they are not planning to make any changes to the existing rules now.
"It is a time sensitive format. It is what it is. I think what we have is perfect, you have got to follow the rules of the game."
The 41-year-old has announced plans to add two more teams to the existing four next year.
It has also been confirmed that Federer would only be available for the India leg and would not be travelling to Dubai for the final leg, starting 11 December.