Roger Federer has agreed to step in and replace old foe Rafa Nadal in the Indian franchise of the inaugural International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), organisers said on Monday.
Fourteen times grand slam winner Nadal dealt a big blow to the fledgling tournament by pulling out because of "health problems" hours before Federer, the winner of a record 17 slam titles, stepped in despite initially appearing apprehensive of the league.
"Namaste India! I'm really looking forward to making my first trip to New Delhi and playing for the Indian Aces. My team tells me that there are a lot of tennis fans and my supporters in the region, so I hope you can come out and support me in December. See you there!" Federer said in a recorded message.
Federer joins retired American Pete Sampras, winner of 14 grand slam titles, in the Indian franchise of the four-team event, scheduled to be played from Nov. 28 to Dec. 13.
Philippines, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates are home to the other teams and will each host a leg of the competition, styled on cricket's Indian Premier League and offering prize money of $29.7 million.
The 28-year-old Nadal missed the U.S. Open last month after failing to recover from a right wrist injury he sustained in practice.
"I am very disappointed to announce that I will not be part of the first edition of the IPTL," Nadal said. "I was looking forward to representing Indian Aces and playing in front of fans in New Delhi in the exciting new League.
"I wish the team the very best and hope to be back next year."
Men's world number one Novak Djokovic, his women's counterpart Serena Williams, Andy Murray,Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and former women's top-ranked players Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic andCaroline Wozniacki have also confirmed their participation.
The teams will compete in men's and women's singles, men's and mixed doubles and a men's legends singles with one set per match, and no advantage scoring.