New Delhi: A new brand of tennis will make its debut in the country today as international stars along with India's top players will come together to compete in the inaugural Champions Tennis League, where matches will be a one-set affair in an exciting format.
The Vijay Amritraj conceptualized league will kick off with a double-header today
Delhi Dreams, led by former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic and South African Kevin Anderson will clash against Punjab Marshalls, who lost David Ferrer but will have charismatic Leander Paes, at the DLTA complex today.
In the second match of the day, Hyderabad Aces will host Bangalore Raptors, who boast of seven-time singles Grand Slam champion Venus Williams.
India primarily hosts ITF Futures events and ATP Challengers, which does not even feature a top-100 player. So CTL gives Indian fans, a great opportunity to witness some of the top ranked players in bracket of 10-25, in action.
Each tie will have five matches, beginning with legends singles, followed by mixed doubles, women's singles, men's doubles and concludes with the men's singles rubber.
Each match will be a one-set affair and tie-breaker will be introduced at 5-5 and not at the usual 6-6. In the end, the team that wins the maximum number of games will be declared winner.
Top tennis officials were sceptical about the level of tennis on display in these leagues but organizers and the players such as Jankovic have outrightly rejected that view.
They have promised superb action.
Current men's stars such as world number 14 Feliciano Lopez, world number 16 Kevin Anderson and from among women multiple Grand Slam champion Venus, world number 19 Alize Cornet will be there in action.
Then there are yesteryears' stars, who still have charm and appeal to pull crowd into the stadiums. Swiss diva Martina Hingis, who is on a comeback trail, Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero, Thomas Enqvist, Marcos Baghdatis are all there.
A country where tennis is still not the game of masses, this league is expected to raise the profile of the sport. It is expected to bring crowds to the stdaium. It was with this aim that legendary Amritraj and AITA joined hands to start the league apart from the obvious financial reasons.
India's very own Somdev Devvarman is a top-notch player, who has rubbed shoulders with who's who of world tennis and Paes himself is a legend, one of the most successful players in the doubles history.
Both of them will represent Punjab Marshalls and fans will get to see their own stars in action in cities, where top level tennis is not played on regular basis.
The league also provides a great opportunity for Indian youngsters to mingle with the stars and learn from the seasoned pros how.
Young Indian Ramkumar Ramanathan, who is rising fast and making a transition from lower-tier tournaments to serious tennis, can also learn a lot by being in the company of these players. He will play for Bangalore.
For a Karman Kaur Thandi or a Garvit Batra, it will be dream to be on the same team which has Jankovic and Anderson. The involvement of 12 junior players in six teams is an appreciable step. They could not have asked for better exposure at this stage of their respective careers.
It is an inaugural tennis league and how it goes over a period of next 10 days in six Indian cities, it will be keenly watched.