Shortly after making his tennis debut in India, Roger Federer on Sunday labelled the newly created IPTL as an “exhibition”, further stating that he prefers the manner in which the game is played on the professional tour.
Asked whether he would like to play in the professional Chennai Open, a regular event on the ATP calendar, he said: “Not next year, because I am starting in Brisbane again.
Don’t forget I have four kids and we need to beat jetlag. Brisbane was really nice to me, really enjoy the tournament.
“Being there is probably is more feasible for me. India is more feasible for me as an exhibition than as a tournament unfortunately. That is how it is,” he said.
Federer’s words, for the champion that he is, are taken seriously the world over. Though he did say that IPTL has a place on the tennis calendar, his views after making his IPTL debut on Sunday will be music to the ears of ATP boss Chris Kermode, who termed the Mahesh Bhupathi backed tournament a ‘glorified exhibition’.
“It is early days (for IPTL). It is not going to replace how we play the tour but definitely has a place in the sport. To have more interaction (with fans), more fun, you bend it (the rules), you customize it. Especially, I like the idea for this part of the world as they don’t get to see many tournaments,” said Federer, who is playing only the India leg of the four-team competition.
IPTL uses a time-restricted format. It has no ad-scoring, all matches are played on best of five format and each set played to six games with a five-minute shoot-out at 5-5. The most talked innovation is the ‘Shot Clock’, requiring a player to play a service point within 20 seconds of each other.
Federer said there is not much he would want to take from the IPTL format to the tour.
“All (rules) at the same time is a bit too much for me. The ‘let cord’ was strange (which continues the point). I miss the ball toss and it counts as a fault,that for me is most unnecessary. The time (serve within 20 seconds) most impact but it is stressful at the same time. I think the way it (IPTL format) is right now it will not work as a tour event. Also, I am not sure that no ad scoring has a future in singles but you never know,” said Federer.
“May be, there could be some takeaway, but right now it is tough to say. I am very traditional in my approach anyway. I like the way the game is on the tour. I think it is great for fans and players alike that you don’t how long the match goes,” said the Swiss great.
The 33-year-old, who replaced the injured Rafael Nadal in the league, said he made the decision to play IPTL recently and was always looking to play for not more than two days.
“I am happy to play here(in New Delhi). There is this team competitive spirit and you want to win, from that stand point Mahesh and rest of the team has done a very good job. I was clear that I could do only couple of days. Training is very important for me. Vacation is very important and so does spending time with family, not being away from them for too long. So for a few days it fits perfectly in my schedule,” he said.
Federer has millions of fans in India but he said playing in the country is not feasible for him at the moment.
“It is a fascinating part of the world for us to come here. Those who can do it should, those who don’t want to do it don’t have to. From a team aspect, it gets lonely on the tour. So to be part of this is something special.”