Novak Djokovic has lauded the efforts of Mahesh Bhupathi, the founder and managing director of the IPTL, in putting together a successful inaugural season and is willing to commit to more matches next year.
The world No1 was unable to help the UAE Royals win the title, but made sure the home team finished off on a high as he led his side to a convincing 29-15 victory over IPTL champions, the Indian Aces, at the Hamdan Sports Complex last night.
Djokovic, who has been a supporter of the league since the moment it was announced 18 months ago, described it as a unique experience, citing the team spirit he enjoyed with the Royals as a personal highlight.
“I definitely enjoyed the whole experience. Going to India for the first time in my life was a very nice experience. Travelling with the team, being alongside some of the players that I used to admire growing up and that I still admire. So for me that is something I appreciate,” said Djokovic, who will be back in the UAE to prepare for the new season and contest the Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) on January 1.
“I got to see two locations this year, maybe more next year, who knows, if Mahesh wants me. It’s definitely a success. He is the brain and mastermind behind this idea. I remember when we spoke for the first time a year-and-a-half ago when he presented me the idea and I thought it was great.
"I’m just so glad for him – we’re friends for many years – that this is happening and I’m glad for tennis as well. In this part of the world tennis is still not where it can be popularity-wise and this league helps our sport get bigger in this market. So I’m very glad to be part of it.”
Bhupathi said he received positive feedback all around but that the pressure remains to continue to improve the league and expand it.
“I think all in all, everyone’s very happy with the first season. We’re off to a good start but as everyone knows, the second season is the key,” he said.
The Indian Aces received the trophy but not all of them could happily celebrate as Gael Monfils revealed he picked up a hamstring injury in the second game of his singles set against Djokovic, which the Frenchman lost 6-0.
“Normally I’m supposed to train (right away). But with what happened today, I think I’m going to have some days off and see what I have and how long I have to stay quiet. (I am in pain) a little bit, yes. I think my hamstring snapped a little bit,” said Monfils, who is also signed up for the MWTC in Abu Dhabi.
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