By Barry Janoff
November 17, 2015: Qatar Airways, the national carrier for the State of Qatar, is now the presenting partner for a tennis circuit that stars the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Ana Ivanovic and Marin Cilic.
Qatar has signed a three-year deal to become the presenting partner for the Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis League.
The event will be known as the Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis League presented by Qatar Airways. Financial terms were not released.
IPTL, entering its second season, brings together current stars, legends and upcoming talent in a five-city team- and individual-play format. Competition is scheduled to begin Dec. 2 and run through Dec. 20.
It also serves as a warm-up for the first Grand Slam of 2016, the Australian Open (Jan.-18-31).
The 2015 team roster includes defending champion Micromax Indian Aces, Philippine Mavericks, OUE Singapore Slammers, UAE Royals and first-year squad Japan Warriors.
The schedule sees three-day round-robin competitions moving to each of the respective home cities for the five-team league. Competition includes men's and women's singles, men's doubles, mixed doubles and men's legends singles.
The Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis League presented by Qatar Airways champions title comes with a $1.5 million prize.
“Qatar Airways has an enviable portfolio of global sports events," IPTL founder Mahesh Bhupathi said in a statement. "They are an award-winning international airline with a clear vision and commitment to sports. We look forward to making this association beneficial to their customers and partners.”
Marketing was not detailed, but Qatar Airways is expected to support with a multi-platform effort including Internet, social media, local and in-arena signage and activations for fans and its airline passengers.
Among other alliances Qatar Airways has been the jersey-front sponsor for iconic soccer club Barcelona.
IPTL play will air in more than 150 territories. Broadcast partners include ESPN, Fox Asia, Sky Sports, TV5, WOWOW, Eurosport, Tennis Channel, Star Sports and the Abu Dhabi Media Group.
Among the players on the Micromax Indian Aces are Nadal, Gael Monfils and Agnieszka Radwanska.
The Japan Warriors will be led by Sharapova, Kei Nishikori, Leander Paes, Daniela Hantuchova and Marat Safin.
Philippine Mavericks list on their roster Serena Williams, Sabine Lisicki and Richard Gasquet.
OUE Singapore Slammers are led by Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios.
UAE Royals feature Federer, Ana Ivanovic, Marin Cilic and Tomas Berdych.
According to Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker, "The overwhelming response the league received last season showcases the interest of Asian tennis fans in the region and the success of this format and the partnership with IPTL reinforces our commitment to be associated with large-scale sports events and sports legends."
The 2015 schedule includes Kobe World Hall, Kobe (Dec 2-4); Mall Of Asia Arena, Manila (Dec. 6-8); Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, New Delhi (Dec. 10-12); Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Dubai (Dec 14-16); and Singapore Indoor Stadium, Singapore (Dec 18-20).
"The success of Season 1 is a result of the format being accepted by the players translating into high intensity competition," said Bhupathi, who during his career won 12 Grand Slam titles in doubles and mixed-doubles. "We will continue to offer an unmatched viewing experience to our global audiences who are now beginning to enjoy tennis in a manner never seen before."
PHOTO COURTESY QATAR AIRWAYS
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