Dubai loses IPTL host city status

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Hamdan Sports Complex hosted the first edition in 2014.

Low revenues are the main reason behind Dubai’s exclusion from this year’s International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), organisers have revealed.

The third season of the IPTL, which kicks off this Friday, December 2, features a condensed version of the competition that will only visit three cities, compared to five last year, and has one less team taking part.

Four squads – UAE Royals, Indian Aces, Japan Warriors and Singapore Slammers – will compete in Saitama, Singapore and Hyderabad, with the official IPTL announcement on this year’s venues and teams only made a mere eight days before the action starts.

Dubai, which hosted the IPTL in both 2014 and 2015, has been dropped from the schedule, along with Manila. The Philippines Mavericks team is also out of the IPTL.

A failure to attract big crowds was evident in Dubai in the first edition, which took place at the remotely-located Hamdan Sports Complex. Numbers increased when the venue moved to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium at the Aviation Club last season but it was still nowhere near the sellout crowds witnessed in Delhi and other IPTL cities.

IPTL 2016 schedule

  • Saitama, Japan - December 2-4
  • Singapore - December 6-8
  • Hyderabad, India - December 9-11

“The Dubai team wasn’t able to obtain good revenues in the last two years so they preferred to skip this year and rework their local strategy in order to hopefully come back stronger and better next year,” Benito Perez-Barbadillo, head of communication for IPTL told Sport360.

“We hope this is the case and looking forward to 2017 and have a team back in Dubai.”

While Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are taking part, star names like Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are notable absentees from the line-up.

The late announcement of the league’s teams and schedule, as well as rumours that several players from previous editions have not been paid their fees, led to speculation that the IPTL might not be held this year.

But Mahesh Bhupathi, the founder and managing director of the league, insists the IPTL will continue to thrive.

“Notwithstanding the challenges that have presented themselves over the last few months, we are happy to bring season 2016 – albeit a compact version, to fans of the sport,” Bhupathi said in a press conference in Hyderabad.

“We are deeply grateful to our sponsors, partners, broadcasters, and, in particular, the participating players for their deep belief in the potential the IPTL holds to deliver exceptional value to all stakeholders. This has significantly strengthened the IPTL proposition as well as our resolve to continue to grow this property for the benefit of this sport that I love.”

While Dubai will not play host, the UAE Royals are still in the competition, and are headlined by world No10 Tomas Berdych and ex-world No1 Ana Ivanovic.

Regarding the absence of the Philippines Mavericks, Bhupathi told PTI news agency: “The owners still own the team but there was some political instability there, they were worries about players travelling there.”

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WATCH: Volleying tips with tennis ace Bjorkman

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Bjorkman, who led Andy Murray’s coaching team in 2015 and is now working with former US Open champion Marin Cilic, was in Dubai from October 29 to November 5 conducting private coaching sessions at the Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection, located in the heart of Jumeirah Beach.

Having enjoyed considerable success both in singles and doubles, the 44-year-old volleying specialist Swede took Sport360 through his top tips in this exclusive video.

Bjorkman retired from the game in 2008 and has since been very active in coaching, tennis media and exhibition matches.

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Going Out: Coaching lessons from Jonas Bjorkman

Jay Asser 19/10/2016
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Super Swede: Jonas Bjorkman alongside Andy Murray.

Tennis enthusiasts in Dubai are in for a treat at the end of this month when retired professional Jonas Bjorkman conducts private coaching sessions.

The former world No4 tennis player in singles and world No1 in doubles will teach the game at Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection from October 29 to November 5.

Whether you’ve been playing tennis for years or are just a beginner, you’ll have the chance to receive valuable advice from one of the sport’s top players.

The one-on-one lessons start at Dh450 for 45 minutes and with everything the 44-year-old Swede has accomplished in his successful career, should be more than worth it, especially if you’re trying to take your game to the next level.

If you’re not aware of what Bjorkman did in his career, there’s no better place to start than his nine major titles – three in Wimbledon, three in the Australian Open, two in the French Open and one US Open triumph.

Before turning pro in 1991, he started playing tennis at the age of six and won the Swedish Junior Championship at 18 to be ranked as high as No4 among junior Swedes.

Following his retirement, Bjorkman led Andy Murray’s coaching team in 2015 and is currently a coach for world No8 Marin Cilic.

Courting attention: The serene set-up at the Habtoor Grand Hotel.

Courting attention: The serene set-up at the Habtoor Grand Hotel.

Fredrik Reinisch, general manager of Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection said of Bjorkman’s presence in Dubai: “We are delighted to host the celebrity tennis player Jonas Bjorkman in our resort which will give our guests and Dubai residents an exclusive opportunity to boost their tennis skills and techniques with a tennis legend.”

Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection, is located in the heart of Jumeirah Beach and offers stunning tennis facilities – including four courts and private lessons conducted by a team of experienced coaches. Other sports and facilities on offer are two squash courts, watersports, a private beach and a fitness centre.

To book your session with Bjorkman, call 04 408 4260 or contact [email protected] Don’t miss your chance to learn from a pro and pick their brain.

What: Jonas Bjorkman private coaching sessions
Where: Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection, Dubai
When: October 29 to November 5
Contact: Call 04 408 4260 or email [email protected] to book your session

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