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Nadal heads to Mumbai, Djokovic for Dubai

Dubai: World number one Rafael Nadal is headed for Mumbai while No.2 Novak Djokovic will represent Dubai after the four teams for the inaugural edition of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) were firmed up here on Sunday.

Floated by Indian doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi, the IPTL player draft went up for auction at the Oberoi Hotel on Sunday amid secrecy and the media out of bounds. Nadal found his way into the Mumbai team along with American legend Pete Sampras, India’s Rohan Bopanna, Frenchmen Gael Monfils and Fabrice Santoro, Serbian beauty Ana Ivanovic and Indian star Sania Mirza.

Djokovic, who has won the Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open on four occasions, will be joined by fellow Serbians Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic along with Croatia’s Grand Slam winner Goran Ivanisevic, Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri and Caroline Wozniacki and Martina Hingis.

Great Britain’s Andy Murray, who has skipped Dubai for the past few years and played on the South American circuit instead, was bought by Bangkok as their star player. The Scot will be joined by Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Carlos Moya of Spain and doubles specialist Daniel Nestor from Canada apart from former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka.

The fourth team is Singapore and it will be the two-pronged American attack led by Andre Agassi and Serena Williams along with Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych, Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt, Pat Rafter, Daniela Hantuchova, Bruno Soares and Nick Kyrgios.

Speaking to Gulf News during the weekend, Bhupathi had insisted that the deliberations on the player draft would be out of bounds for media. Attempts to contact Bhupathi, the co-founder along with German ace and Djokovic coach Boris Becker, did not yield any response.

Meanwhile, Australian Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka and former Grand Slam champion Michael Chang were among the top players who did not find a buyer after featuring in the original player draft of 70-odd names.

The players had been divided into seven different categories, namely the icon players, past champions, categories A, B, C and D and doubles players. Also remaining unsold so far was Richard Gasquet, David Ferrer, Milos Raonic, Tommy Haas and Samantha Stosur and Americans Sloane Stephens and John Isner.

Kuala Lumpur had been reportedly announced as one of the five franchises, but somehow did not figure in Sunday’s auction. Of the three Indians figuring, only Somdev Devvarman went unsold.

As per the rules, every tie will consist of five matches: a men’s and women’s singles, a men’s doubles, mixed doubles and legends singles. The matches will be one-set affairs, played with the no-ad rule with the entire tie to be completed in three hours.

Organised with the aim of enhancing the presence of tennis in Asia, the first edition of the competition will be played on a home and away basis from November 28 to December 20.

International Premier Tennis League

Team Singapore

November 28, 29, 30

Tomas Berdych, Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt, Serena Williams, Bruno Soares, Patrick Rafter, Daniela Hantuchova, Nick Krygios.

Team Bangkok

December 2, 3, 4

Andy Murray, Jo Wilfred Tsonga, Victoria Azarenka, Daniel Nestor,Carlos Moya, Kirsten Flipkens.

Team Mumbai

December 7, 8, 9

Rafael Nadal, Gael Monfils, Pete Sampras. Rohan Bopanna, Ana Ivanovic, Sania Mirza, Fabrice Santoro

Team Dubai

December 11, 12, 13

Novak Djokovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Goran Ivanisevic, Janko Tipsarevic, Nenad Zimonic, Malek Jaziri, Martina Hingis.