Not having stars such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic is a blow to the IPTL, the organisers conceded on Tuesday but promised to bring back the big names in the future editions. The organiser urged the fans to not forget the good work done in the last two years.
After Hyderabad replaced Delhi as the venue for IPTL’s India leg this year, none of the big players, save Serena, found a mention in the team roster named earlier.
IPTL founder Mahesh Bhupathi had announced that at least one of the ‘Big Four’ in will be there in Hyderabad, but he confirmed on Tuesday that neither Federer nor Serena will be part of the League due to the “current economic climate” in India, referring to demonetisation. Serena was named in the Singapore Slammers squad.
“Yes, it’s a huge blow to IPTL but don’t forget what has been done in the last two years. People tend to forget the good work. Federer, Rafa and Djokovic have come to India and played. Was it possible before?” Somdev Devvarman, who is now associated with IPTL, told PTI from Singapore.
Somdev, who has steered India to many a Davis Cup wins with his dogged style of play but is missing from action due to injury for a long time now, said uncontrollable circumstances have resulted in the absence of stars.
“Yes, the top names may be missing but the IPTL has 26 other world class players coming to Hyderabad. We have a long term plan and we still have world class players out there. Tomas Berdych, Feliciano Lopez, Nick Kyrgios, Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Sania Mirza are all quality players,” he asserted.
Asked specifically how demonetisation has affected the league and if the players needed to be paid in cash, Somdev said that alone was not the issue. “Paying the players is not the issue. But if revenues do not support most of the payments, both the team owners and league get into a large hole which we want to avoid,” Somdev said.
He said reduction of teams was bound to affect the number of players featuring in the league. Philippines Mavericks have sat out for one season due to prevailing political situation in that country.
Meanwhile, a source close to the owners explained that they had difficulty in promoting the league due to the prevailing economic situation in the country. “It’s bound to have some impact. The sponsors and the owners are going to be wary. Everything around is so unstable and uncertain,” the source close to the Indian team’s owners, said.
Both Nadal and Federer have faced injury issues this season and cut short their respective 2016 season. Federer has not played since Wimbledon and Nadal wrapped up his season in October. Djokovic had featured in the inaugural IPTL for Dubai but had missed the 2015 edition. In the absence of star players, world number 28 Feliciano Lopez from Spain is the highest-ranked singles male player in the Indian team.