March 7, 2014

How the tennis IPL will work

By heavily borrowing from the greatest show on earth, of course

Andy Murray: soon to be heard muttering "It's tough being me", and threatening to retire from Wimbledon tennis © Getty Images

This week saw the news that tennis chiefs are set to launch an IPL-style tournament with mixed male and female teams made up of current and former greats from across the world. Much like the cricketing version, the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) is set to involve an obscene amount of money alongside intense court battles, but how exactly will the format translate to the planet's most popular racket sport?

Here's a look at how tennis might have to make a few tweaks to replicate the IPL's success:

The original plan involves matches being played simultaneously in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Mumbai, Singapore and Hong Kong. Instead of this, all IPTL games will actually be played in Chennai on concrete surfaces supplied by India Cements. This will not only ensure exciting quickfire rallies but also allow enthusiastic fans no longer welcome at CSK home fixtures another sport to enjoy.

At the player auction there must be a complete lack of strategic logic, with Nadal, Federer and Djokovic being left unsold, whilst a plucky South African journeyman one of the franchise owners once saw play a nice topspin forehand three years ago at the US Open is snapped up for $4m.

The use of Hawk-Eye will be forbidden at the behest of the All India Tennis Association. Instead, all line calls will be made by the on-court umpire. If Leander Paes unfairly loses a point as a result of this, anyone watching will legally be required to smugly point out the irony on Twitter, oblivious to the fact that three million other people have just done the same.

A few cricketers might be brought on board the IPTL to add a bit of cross-format glamour. For example, in between games Sreesanth will be in charge of handing out towels to players. They can then choose whether to hand them back to him or tuck them in their shorts or skirts at important points in the match. Similarly, RP Singh will also be employed as "foot-fault strategist", although this may lead to players suspiciously attempting to serve standing a metre from the net on match point. In a further development, Kamran Akmal has also said he will make himself available to help any player having problems with drop shots.

Commentary will be introduced by Ravi Shastri, who will repeatedly assert that "The ball toss will be crucial", before handing over to John McEnroe and Danny Morrison.

The British Lawn Tennis Association will ban Andy Murray from taking part on the grounds it may improve his technique in high-pressure situations in front of big crowds. Instead, Murray will be made to play matches against Eoin Morgan at Lord's in early May in front of six people and a pigeon.

In the veterans part of the IPTL tournament, Sachin Tendulkar will play specially arranged matches against the 679,789th-ranked player from Bangladesh. They will play as many times as necessary until Tendulkar wins a hundred points, at which point he will be showered with rose-scented tennis balls by Laxman Sivaramakrishnan and Andre Agassi.

To ensure equality and avoid the accusations of cheap sexism often made against the IPL, in the tennis version both ball boys and ball girls will be used. To show there is no chauvinism, however, the girls' importance will be underlined by giving them each a podium to stand on and, unlike the boys who will have to go without, a set of pom poms.

In the event of any drawn matches, the game will go to a "super tie-break". If the teams still cannot be separated, the side owned by N Srinivasan will win.

James Marsh writes Pavilion Opinions. He is also a Tefl teacher whose students learn superlatives by being shown Graham Thorpe videos

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 9, 2014, 8:27 GMT

    I knew this guy would be trouble the first time I saw him, and he's proven me right every minute since. This is such a good idea I really wish he'd talked to his bankers first before revealing it to the world. Sure, at first it sounds like a hilarious piss-take of the Cirque du Soleil that is instant cricket…but wasn't it Barnum who said a three-ringed circus could fool more of the people more of the time? When you see Tennis IPL become reality, remember you saw it here first - and then ask if the originator of the idea has a smelt any of the royalties!

  • Sam on March 8, 2014, 21:41 GMT

    Each game will be reduced to a single set to suit the busy lifestyles or attention spans of new millennia's TV audience. Any 'Tennisinfo' articles from commentators or journalists - with rare exceptions, none of them will be receiving any direct income from IPTL organizers or TV companies that have purchased broadcasting rights - that point out how these matches are not as satisfying as 5-set grand slam tournaments will be dismissed by hordes of Asian fans: "5-set matches are boring!"

  • Kamal on March 8, 2014, 1:49 GMT

    In tennis a single point is important, but not as important as a wicket in Cricket. They get three incorrect challenges PER SET, plus 1 additional challenge for tie-break. So, theoretically there can be 20 incorrect challenges for each player in a grand slam match, that is a huge waste of time, right?!. BCCI has problem with 2 challenges per innings!! Hawk-eye is not fully correct, right?! So if it can weed out 90 or even 80% of the mistakes made by umpires, some of which are silly, is not good enough for you?!. Thank God we do not have one board monopolizing over a great games like Tennis, football or chess. God save any sports from boards like BCCI...

  • Dummy4 on March 7, 2014, 19:10 GMT

    You ledge. Write some more Marsh-box.

    "''s tough being me,' and threatening to retire" - v.funny

  • Paulo on March 7, 2014, 17:45 GMT

    Hilarious, but not sure too many Indians will agree. And I agreed with all but:

    I hope that "Murray will be made to play matches against Eoin Morgan at Lord's in early May in front of six people and a pigeon" refers to county cricket and not a test match. In England we usually get decent crowds at test matches.

  • Zeeshan on March 7, 2014, 14:57 GMT

    Amazing article, specially the bit about Andy Murray was a classic

  • Dummy on March 7, 2014, 8:50 GMT

    Absolutely amazing......especially the one on Srinivasan.....!!!!!!

  • suresh on March 7, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    not funny! Definitely not working humourly when comparing tennis with cricket!. Worst and bad.

  • Zeshan on March 7, 2014, 8:16 GMT

    Not a bad idea actually.. Too good to be implemented. Thanks indian don't have hold over world tennis. Otherwise this would be a reality.

  • Pravin on March 7, 2014, 8:02 GMT

    Very hilarious! You made my day. Looking forward to seeing many such articles from you.

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