Following the current economic situation in India due to de-monetization, the International Premier League Tennis had to shelve its plan of including Roger Federer and Serena Williams for the 10-day extravaganza.
Serena Williams was supposed to take court for the Singapore Slammers later today at the Singapore Indoor Stadium before also featuring in one of the evenings at Hyderabad for the same outfit. The 22-time Grand Slam champion and current world no. 2 earlier skipped the WTA Tour Finals at the South Asian city in late October – thus giving heartbreaks to her local fans for the second time in almost two months. Earlier, Williams was an integral part of the Slammers for both the previous seasons.
The 17-time men’s singles Grand Slam champion Roger Federer was out of action for a major part of the season with no professional appearances since Wimbledon – where he lost out in the semi-final. Federer played for the Indian Aces in the inaugural season of the IPTL before switching to the UAE Royals last year. The tournament meant a lot to the fans of the Swiss great in what was his first-ever appearance on court in the country that is more crazy about cricket but still have millions of Fed-fans. The 7-time Wimbledon champion had played two of the most mouth-watering clashes in the single-set format of the tournament – first against Novak Djokovic in 2014 and last time against his greatest rival Rafael Nadal.
Tournament Director Mahesh Bhupathi has confirmed both the unfortunate news at a press briefing and has sighted present fiscal crunch as the reason behind cutting short the grandeur of the league that has thrived for the last two years with extravagant names in the sports. At the onset, the league was cut short to 4 teams without a Dubai leg with most of the top guns not in the party. In contrast, most of the current top 10 in both men’s and women’s tennis have been associated with the bonanza since its inception. Apart from the Big Three and Serena, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Gael Monfils, Marin Cilic as well as Maria Sharapova, Samantha Stosur, Caroline Wozniacki have had played in the tournament from time to time. The tournament have had also been successful to rope in past legends like Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt, Patrick Rafter among others – most of whom like Carlos Moya, Goran Ivanisevic, Marat Safin are still in the thick of things this pale season.
Earlier on 8th November evening, Indian Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi announced the cease of the big denomination notes as legal tenders – thus paving way for acute cash shortage in the country which is arguably the major financial source that funds the year-ending, off-season tournament. With the country recovering from the initial cash crunch, former doubles bigwig Bhupathi reached out to both the icons in this regard with an eye on seeing them again next year.
A statement release from the official IPTL website reads as follows:
“We have had challenges this year, and we were hoping to get past them. With the current economic climate in India and the uncertainty of spending money, I reached out to both Roger and Serena to explain the situation.”
“They have been both been very supportive of the IPTL the first two seasons and we look forward to bring them in future years.”