Bhupathi: Rapport between players in IPTL will help

Mahesh Bhupathi believes that the rapport developed between players in the International Premier Tennis League (ITPL) will be helpful in case any of the 35 internationals involved decided to team up in doubles. "Of course, anything can happen. They can play together, can get married... IPTL is about the experience of playing with stars."

Japan Warriors is the latest addition to the event and Bhupathi feels Japan’s emergence is making a difference to the event.   -  R. Ragu

Mahesh Bhupathi believes that the rapport developed between players during the International Premier Tennis League (ITPL) will be helpful in case any of the 35 internationals involved decided to team up in doubles in the professional circuit. “Of course, anything can happen. They can play together, can get married… IPTL is about the experience of playing with stars.”

Japan Warriors is the latest addition to the event and men’s world number eight Kai Nishikori will be part of the seven-member squad.

Speaking about the sucess of Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza in the WTA circuit, Bhupathi said: “She (Martina Hingis) did not play IPTL last time, so you cannot say it (teaming with Sania) happened during the event."

He, however added: “Playing with the world’s leading stars will always help Indians. Roger Federer was on the same side as Sania and Rohan last year. The memory of playing with him will be carried by them for a lifetime."

Sania and Rohan are part of the Indian Aces (defending champions) squad, which includes crowd-pullers like the inimitable Rafael Nadal, wily Agnieska Radwanska, athletic Gael Monfils and artistic Fabrice Santoro. Ivan Dodig is the seventh player drafted into the squad.

Induction of Japan will make it stronger

Bhupathi feels Japan’s addition will make a big difference to the event. “Japan is a powerful nation in tennis; they have (Kai) Nishikori,” he said. Leander Paes, the third Indian competitor, will also be a part of Japan Warriors. Other teams in the IPTL are Philippines Mavericks, Singapore Slammers and UAE Royals.

Indian leg in New Delhi

The Indian leg of the competition will be held in New Delhi between December 10 and 12.

Replying to a question about India’s projection as a sporting nation, he said: “I don’t have to force them (world tennis stars) to come here. India is known for its hospitality and the players are aware of that.”

The other big draws for this year's event includes Federer (UAE Royals), Novac Djokovic (Singapore Slammers), Serena Williams (Philippines Mavericks) and Maria Sharapova (Japan Warriors).