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The tennis weekend that brings top Grand Slam winners to play for India

The Indian leg of International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) started on Saturday in New Delhi. And, Indians get a chance to watch Roger Federer and Pete Sampras play together for the Indian team, live.

Federer, playing for the Indian Aces, is probably the biggest draw. But there’s more for the tennis fans. There’s Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Marin Cilic and our own Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna. It’s hard to miss the live show.

The response, as expected, is more than what the organiser had initially thought of. Tickets for the least priced seats (started selling on October 31) were grabbed within 20 minutes. Tickets priced between Rs 3,000 and Rs 27,000 were sold out within the first few days, while the ones that comes for Rs 46,000 or more were also out of shelves way before the tournament.

This shows, among many other reasons, why investors have put in huge money in the IPTL that was conceived by former Indian doubles champion Mahesh Bhupati.

The four teams attracted investments of $ 24 million (about Rs 150 crore). There are 29 players who are playing across Philippines, Singapore, India and UAE, three consecutive days in each of the four Asian countries. Well, a few more millions have already changed hands for advertisements, promotions and marketing.

One of the biggest reason is, obviously, Asia is the largest tennis market without a Grand Slam Tournament.

Initially, teams were permitted to have 10 players each on their rosters, but the wage bill was capped at $ 10 million. So, there could be more.

Besides the corporate entities, such as title sponsor Coca-Cola, presenting partner Qatar Airways, the tournament’s official partners include FedEx, Amity University, Head, LifeFitness, KSwiss, Velvet Case and Yahoo. And there are team sponsors, rather local partners in each country. Indian team is sponsored by handset maker Micromax, while DBS is the sponsor for the Singapore team, PLDT group for Manila team and the Dubai team is sponsored by Musafir and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange. The list of smaller sponsors are endless.

The ITPL tournament offers $ 1 million in prize money, while some players are, probably, making much more than the prize money. On the other hand, the prize money for the four prestigious Grand Slams is $ 2 million to $ 2.5 million (each).

Like what Indian Premier League (IPL) has given to cricketers, the best possible financial terms, Bhupati’s IPTL is doing the same for tennis. First time ever, Asia is throwing mi8llion of dollars at the tennis players. Being the best, or to win, is not a consideration here.

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