Roger Federer and Serena Williams will not be taking part in the International Premier Tennis League, with the organisers if the tournament admitting that the demonetization measures announced by the Indian government hitting them hard financially.
The 2016 edition of the IPTL is being played out across three international venues, at Tokyo, Singapore and Hyderabad. The Hyderabad leg of the event is scheduled to start on 9th December, with the venue also scheduled to host the finals.
The first two editions of the event saw major tennis stars like Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray Serena Williams, Sania Mirza and Maria Sharapova feature for the various franchises of the event. The Indian Aces won the event in 2014 while the UAE Royals won last year.
The likes of Nadal, Djokovic and Murray had already decided not to feature in the event earlier this year, while Sharapova is currently serving a two-year ban from the sport after failing a drug test conducted during the Australian Open in January.
Now due to the cash crunch following the Indian government’s decision to ban all old 500 and 1000 rupee notes with immediate effect, and several new rules limiting organisers’ financial capabilities, the tournament has lost further star power following Federer and Williams’ withdrawal from this year’s edition.
Japanese World No. 5 Kei Nishikori appeared for the Japan Warriors in the Tokyo leg of the tournament last week and will not be featuring again in the event while World No. 10 Tomas Berdych is representing the UAE Royals and is the highest ranked player still appearing in the tournament.
The tournament is the brainchild of star Indian doubles tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi, who has said Federer and Williams may make a return in future editions. “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 both been very supportive of the ITPL in the first two seasons and we look forward to bring them in future years,” he told the Hindu.