Tennis - Murray management deal could pave way for tennis IPL

Andy Murray has signed a contract with an Asian sports marketing company that looks set to pave the way for an IPL-style tennis tournament featuring the sport’s biggest stars.

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Tennis - Murray management deal could pave way for tennis IPL
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Andy Murray could sign up for a tennis IPL after his new management deal with an Indian company (Reuters)

Murray’s management company, Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment, struck the deal with Globosport, which is run by Indian doubles star Mahesh Bhupathi.

Under the guise of the XIX Globosport partnership, the Asian company have been given the brief to investigate opportunities in China and India, the world’s most populous countries.

Bhupathi has gone on record as saying he is keen to convince the world’s leading players to sign up for an Indian Premier League style tournament in the winter off-season, which would see a number of big clashes take place across Asia in November and December.

The Cricket IPL pits some of the world's best players against each other in a seven-week Twenty20 tournament, with teams selected using an auction system.

The format would be slightly different for tennis: it would be called the International Tennis Premier League and played across a variety of nations in a shorter period.

But the principle would be the same, with the likes of Murray, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka auctioned alongside others to form teams that would compete for a $5million (£3.26mil) prize.

India in particular is an untapped market for tennis, with a joint statement saying they would explore "the burgeoning sports and entertainment opportunities in India and the Middle East".

Murray said: "I believe a mix of Simon's experience and Mahesh's understanding of the sport will create the perfect team for my off-court interests and will allow me to continue to dedicate myself and focus on my goals on the court.”

He did not, however, mention the proposed tournament – probably for the best given he is skipping this weekend’s Davis Cup clash with Russia in order to preserve his fitness.

However, the prize money on offer means players would be tempted to skip other ATP and WTA events, with Australian Open director Craig Tiley saying "we support anything that will put more money into the back pockets of players.

"It will create more global interest in the sport beyond the traditional tennis fan. Tennis needs a big uplift in compensating players beyond the Grand Slams".

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