Serena will be back in Singapore with the Slammers
After the high of the WTA Finals, local tennis fans are in for another treat when the inaugural Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) swings into town from Dec 2-4.
Organisers yesterday revealed the preliminary tournament schedule for the three-day tournament at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, where players will compete in four different teams for the tournament's US$1 million ($1.27m) purse.
Women's world No. 1 Serena Williams, who won her fourth WTA Finals crown at the same venue just two weeks ago, will represent the "home" team Singapore Slammers.
In her camp will be tennis greats Andre Agassi and Patrick Rafter, and also current players such as Daniela Hantuchova and Lleyton Hewitt.
The other teams in the league, conceptualised by Indian tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi, are the Manila Mavericks, Micromax Indian Aces and UAE Royals.
The Royals and Aces kick off the tournament in the first match on Dec 2.
Reigning US Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia, representing the Royals, will face Aces' Frenchman Gael Monfils in the men's singles.
In the women's singles, there will be a rematch of the WTA Finals when Royals' Eugenie Bouchard takes on Aces' Ana Ivanovic.
Ivanovic comfortably beat Bouchard 6-1, 6-3 during the group stage at the WTA Finals.
Also in action will be 2001 Wimbledon winner and former world No. 2 Goran Ivanisevic, who will play Frenchman Fabrice Santoro in the legends' singles match.
In the second match of the night, the Slammers will take on the Mavericks.
While the exact clashes in the second match are still being worked out, Williams and Co will come up against the likes of Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and 1998 French Open winner Carlos Moya.
With the IPTL's innovative "code-breaking" format, fans can watch up to 24 players in action on a single night.
The tournament promises an innovative spin to elite tennis, with exciting additions like time-outs, power points, shoot-outs, a running-shot clock and venues equipped with Hawk-Eye technology helping to ensure edge-of-the-seat action for spectators.
The traditional scoring format has also been changed to a single-set, no-advantage system which will not only intensify matches, but also speed up games.
Beier Ko, a management committee member of the Singapore Tennis Association and a consultant to the Slammers, welcomes the changes.
"What's exciting about this new format is the fast-paced and dynamic setting in which the players are being immersed," said the former WTA-ranked player.
"The coaches play an instrumental role in setting the tone of each match, deciding on substitutions, and determining who gets to play.
"We're expecting some interesting plot twists as players get switched mid-match or teams play 'Happiness Power Points' to get ahead of their rivals, all amid a highly-charged atmosphere of music and entertainment."