Seventeen-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer will spearhead Indian Aces, the country's franchise, in the inaugural edition of the International Premier Tennis League
New Delhi: Swiss great Roger Federer on Monday replaced Rafael Nadal in the Indian team for the much-awaited Indian Premier Tennis League (IPTL) as the Spaniard has pulled out due to injury.
Federer, the 17-time Grand Slam winner, was not part of the original squads announced by organisers of IPTL, the brainchild of veteran Indian tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi.
Nadal, who has 14 Grand Slams to his name, had also pulled out of this year's US Open due to a wrist injury.
"There was an injury issue with Rafa, but I am glad Federer was available. Federer is a superstar and has charisma. That will create buzz," Bhupathi, who founded the league, said at a press conference along with India team owner Rahul Sharma from Micromax.
Federer joins American great Pete Sampras, former world number one Ana Ivanovic, Frenchman Gael Monfils along with India's Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna in the Indian Aces.
Fabrice Santoro is reserve player of the squad. Russian superstar Maria Sharapova will also be now part of the league as she joins the Philippines team, which earlier had Victoria Azarenka.
In a televised message, Federer said, "Namaste India! I'm really looking forward to making my first trip to New Delhi and playing for the Micromax 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!"
The league will kick off on November 28 in Manila and conclude in Dubai on December 13. The Delhi leg will be played from December 6-8 at Indira Gandhi Indoor stadium.
Eric Gottschalk, the chief operating officer of the IPTL, informed that the players initially have one-year contract with the league but the owners will also have choice to trade players from the second year onwards.
All participating teams -- India, UAE, Singapore and Phillipnes -- in the league will compete in five single-set matches to determine a winner. The order of play will be decided by the home team in host venue.
Nadal said, "I am very disappointed to announce that I will not be part of the first edition of the IPTL. I was looking forward to representing Indian Aces and playing in front of fans in New Delhi in the exciting new League." If two neutral teams are playing, then a coin toss determines who picks the order of play.
Gottschalk also said that one more team is expected to enter the fray in the second edition and by 2017-18 they plan to make it a eight-team competition. Micomax's Rahul Sharma said IPTL was a phenomenal initiative.
"We were earlier approached for sponsorship but when we listened to the concept and format, we decided to get a team in it. We have always believed in doing things, never done before, never seen before," Sharma said.