Sharapova, Murray, to play in Manila leg of International Premier Tennis League

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One of the finest female players of the tennis world and one of its top male stars will wow Pinoy fans in November as part of the inaugural leg of the International Premier Tennis League.

Russia's Maria Sharapova and Scotland's Andy Murray will not just play in the event, but also banner the home side, the Manila Mavericks, in this unique team tennis competition. It will take place in the Smart Araneta Coliseum from November 28 to 30.

Murray was the first Briton to win the Wimbledon men's singles title in 77 years and is also a US Open champ. Sharapova, with five grand slam singles titles, is one of tennis' most desirable properties.

The Mavericks will duel with the Singapore Slammers, the UAE Royals, and the Indian Aces, which will all feature top class players from the men's and women's side as well as past champions.

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Along with Murray and Sharapova, the Mavericks will also feature Fil-American Davis Cupper Treat Huey, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Canadian doubles specialist Daniel Nestor, Spain's former French Open winner Carlos Moya, and Belgian Kirsten Flipkens.

It is also confirmed that fan favorite Serena Williams will play for Singapore and is scheduled to play in Manila as well.

The IPTL is the brainchild of Indian Doubles legend Mahesh Bhupathi, and true to its motto of “break the code”, will feature a tweaked format to make the game more exciting. Bhupathi says he has patterned the league after the Indian Premier Cricket league, which instituted similar changes to bring more excitement to matches.

"We are trying to add entertainment to world class sport" explained Bhupathi.

All four teams will play each other in every tour stop, for a total of two “ties” per day. The format will be five sets per tie, a men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, mixed doubles and former champions singles. Each set will feature no-add scoring (presumably no more “advantage” and “deuce” points) and a tiebreaker at 5-5 instead of 6-6. The team with the most games, and not sets, wins the tie.

The winning team wins the US$1 million total prize purse.

There will also be additional wrinkles, like “power points” called by the receiver that count double, a shot clock, time outs, and a seven-point tiebreaking shootout to decide the winners of each match if needed.

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Each won tie counts as four points, but if a losing team amasses from 10 to 19 games they get one point, and two points if they amass at least 20 games in a losing cause.

Bhupathi says all these innovations will make the game more TV-friendly. Broadcasters will now have a better idea of when a match will end.

Tickets will be available in Smart Araneta Coliseum's usual outlets, and IPTL's COO, Eric Gottschalk says “one key objective of this event is to make it accessible to as many fans as possible and therefore we are committed to a sensitive price strategy.”

The tickets will go on sale in August and specific prices were not revealed at Thursday's press event but it was reported that midrange tickets will run from P2,000 to 8,000, with P300 being the most affordable ticket.

We have revealed an overwhelming amount of support from the Philippine people" said Bhupathi during the press conference. This is the first time that top tennis players have come to the Philippines since the "Fire and Ice" exhibition between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe in Ninoy Aquino Stadium over twenty years ago.

After the Manila leg, the IPTL goes to Singapore on December 2 to 4, Delhi on December 6 to 8, and Dubai from December 11 to 13.

The IPTL intends to increase the number of teams in the coming years.

We will launch many local activities over the coming weeks to promote the event such an IPTL-style competition among top university sides with the winning team to be honored in the IPTL event itself” explained Randy Villanueva of the Philippine Tennis Association.

The event is sanctioned by the Philippine Tennis Association and the Asian Tennis Federation.

While Rafael Nadal and Noval Djokovic are on the roster of other teams, they are not slated to play in the first leg in Manila. The final list of matches and players will not be revealed until a few weeks time when tickets will go on sale.

A local broadcast partner has yet to be confirmed.

You can follow the league on Twitter @iptl. The official website of the IPTL is

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