Grand Slam champion and world number nine Marin Cilic says his decision to sign up for the upcoming International Premier Tennis League was motivated by his desire to play in never-seen-before cities in countries such as India.
"For me a big part of the decision came because in the countries where we'll play, people can't see players too often. It's a really nice opportunity to interact with them and try to play in cities I have never played in before," says the 26-year-old Croatian star. (See India Through My Eyes, Amritraj Tells Hingis, Venus and Co.)
Together with his world famous teammates Novak Djokovic, Eugenie Bouchard, Caroline Wozniacki, Goran Ivanisevic, Nenad Zimonjic, and Arab player Malek Jaziri, Cilic will be playing for the UAE 'Royals', visiting countries like India, the Philippines, Singapore and Dubai to play in the professional team tennis competition.
The IPTL will be played from November 28 until December 13. (Also read: Dear India, Back Desi Sports Talent, Not Just a Bunch of Foreign Celebrities)
Describing what thrills him most about the league, Cilic said, "It is the different format of the game compared to what we are used to on the tour. Also, team atmosphere is very different compared to when you play your individual tournaments. I believe the IPTL will also be interesting to follow and play because of the many great players playing."
First time features such as time-outs, power points, shootouts, a running shot clock and exciting live in-game entertainment will be an essential part of all matches.
Cilic feels matches will be extremely interesting, quicker, and different compared to what's seen during the year, bringing more excitement to the court.
"It will be fun for sure," he says with a twinkle in his eye.
Cilic thinks tennis fans in the UAE are in for a real treat.
"This team will be difficult to beat", he said confidently.
"It's a big pleasure to be on the same team with these big names of our sport. With Novak playing, Zimonjic in doubles, Goran for legends who is one of the best on the Legends Tour, Wozniacki and Bouchard, who are among the best in the world, Jaziri who is a very dangerous player, and I, hopefully we can win the IPTL this year and make our fans proud."
Cilic believes the competition has a promising future.
"We'll see how fans like it but I believe it could bring change to the tennis world," he exclaims talking about the sports' latest and most exciting spectacle.
"My game plan is the same as always. To play my game and to try to win every match I am playing. Hopefully, my team is going to play well and we come in a position to win the IPTL," he says.
Having enjoyed a superb year, the right-hander has compiled a career-best campaign this year.
"When I am in Asia, I always have good experiences and I always feel welcome," he says.
"Asian fans are very faithful and I appreciate that a lot. The IPTL is surely going to be one of the best experiences in my life. I'm really excited to play in these cities and to experience big crowds over there."
When he gets time off during the IPTL, Cilic is looking forward to learning a little more about different cultures in the four cities where he'll be playing.
"I have never been to Manila, Singapore and New Delhi, so I'm going to do a lot of sightseeing and hopefully experience some things I have never experienced in my life! I know they are also very beautiful places so I hope that I'll have a lot to remember when I finish the IPTL season," he said with anticipation.