If you thought the Indian Premier League cricket competition is a money-spinner, think again. The Mahesh Bhupathi-developed International Premier Tennis League is reportedly going to offer astronomical sums of money to top players that can put pale the highest paid IPL star - Royal Challenge Bangalore's Yuvraj Singh @ INR 14 crore for a two-month long tournament - to insignificance! According to reports, 'marquee' player Rafael Nadal could earn as much as a million US Dollars (6.2 crore INR) a night or may be just two-three hours of tennis!
The IPTL, a brainchild of India's Davis Cup star Bhupathi, is going to be launched this weekend in Dubai. Nadal is believed to have committed himself to the tournament that will be played in five cities - Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Singapore and Hong Kong - between November 28 and December 20. Teams will bid for their players on Sunday in a Dubai hotel and reportedly some of the world's top tennis stars have shown interest. Apparently, the ageing Roger Federer, who is increasingly getting conservative with his selection of tournaments, is not keen.
According to a report in The Telegraph, UK, world No. 1 Nadal will be one of the 'marquee' players standing to earn $1 million a night for his contribution. Wimbledon champion Andy Murray is believed to be in talks with Bhupathi, who is now seeking a career in business after a brilliant career as a doubles specialist.
On the women's side, two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka, former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki and Polish No.1 Agnieszka Radwanska are also believed to have signed up to the project. The format of the tournament will be revealed soon but one ground rule of the competition is that Grand Slam winners and players who have reached the No.1 spot in the rankings can nominate which matches they play and which players they avoid.
Skepticism is expected on anything that promises so much money. It is when the money actually gets credited to their bank accounts will the players start believing in a concept that could really redefine tennis dynamics. Lalit Modi's IPL is now a reality and although the lure of money has brought a large dose of shame, it will be worth watching how IPTL shapes up.
Twenty-seven-year-old Nadal, a winner of 13 Grand Slam singles titles, is the second all-time leader in prize money earnings. In 2014, Nadal already has earning of approximately over 66 million USD. Federer leads with USD 79 million. Murray is sixth at USD 30 million. Nadal could gallop past Federer if the IPTL figures are correct and recognized by the Association of Tennis Professionals.
Sports is really becoming synonymous with big bucks. Wayne Rooney's new contract with Manchester United is reportedly USD 26 million a year. The sheer money factor could straightaway pitchfork the inaugural IPTL to a mindboggling zone of intrigue and numbers.