Kolkata: In an unprecedented gathering of tennis stars, the IPTL on Tuesday announced an exhibition tour across three major cities in India, which will witness Sania Mirza, Leander Paes, Martina Navratilova and Mahesh Bhupathi playing exhibition matches.
The promo tour in November, designed in anticipation of season 2 of the International Premier Tennis League, has its founder and Indian tennis legend Bhupathi teaming up with his former mixed doubles partner and current doubles World no.1 Sania in a rare engagement against Paes who partners with the most successful women's tennis player of all time, Navratilova.
The experienced quartet will travel to Kolkata, Hyderabad and New Delhi on November 25, 26 and 27 for three exhibition matches.
This tour aims to achieve one main goal - to regain interest and excitement about the sport of tennis in the hearts of the Indian sporting public. It becomes a double shot of tennis with the IPTL coming to India two weeks post the exhibition tour.
The exhibition tour along with the IPTL gives hard core fans an opportunity to experience delectable clashes up close and personal. Tennis fans, young and old, will get a chance to experience the Paes-Martina charm on the court. Also in store for fans will be the reuniting of Sania with her most successful doubles partner in Bhupathi. Both doubles pairings have won two Mixed Grand Slams each with Leander-Martina winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon (both in 2003) while Sania-Mahesh have won the Australian Open (2009) and the French Open (2012).
"Season 1 of IPTL brought Indian tennis fans closer to tennis akin to Grand Slam action like never before. Yet, not everyone was able to experience that action up close and personal. The understanding and familiarity between the four of us has resulted in Grand Slam finals appearances and titles won. This will only contribute to the quality of competitive tennis being played on this tour," Bhupathi said.
With the traditional tennis format being adapted to allow for a maximum of 24 international tennis stars playing on a single day, fans were able to see their favourite players pushed to the edge in the high octane and fast paced ties which pleased even global superstars like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
On how the promo tour lines up with his vision for the IPTL, which will begin its second edition on December 2 in Japan, Bhupathi said, "The response from season 1 was overwhelming and season 2 can only exceed expectations. The addition of a new franchise and stars like Rafael Nadal and Leander joining the ranks will surely make for some wonderful tennis on the cards."