Small World

The Master and the Machine Come to India

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Tennis lovers are in for a rare treat when Roger Federer plays Rafael Nadal on 12 December in Delhi
India hosted its biggest tennis match last December, when Novak Djokovic played Roger Federer in the inaugural season of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) in New Delhi. The two were then ranked No 1 and No 2 in the world. Federer had replaced Rafael Nadal after the latter pulled out of the tournament. There was an air of bonhomie about the match, a one-setter that lasted about 30 minutes. Djokovic won.

On 12 December, expect all such cheer to disappear when the greatest rivalry of modern tennis, Federer versus Nadal, takes centre-stage in New Delhi. Nadal, representing the Indian Aces, and Federer, playing for the UAE Royals, will play against each other on the final day of the India leg of the League’s second edition. Mahesh Bhupathi, founder and CEO of the IPTL, says, “Apart from being witness to some great tennis, what we are bringing to [Indian fans] is one of the greatest rivalries in sport. When we conceptualised the IPTL, the aim was to connect an audience in Asia [with] world class tennis. Last year, the Indian audience was treated to a Djoko and Fed match-up. This year, it’s Fed versus Nadal, a match-up that has been a rare occurrence this calendar year.”

The tickets—a seat is priced in a range from Rs 4,000 to Rs 48,000 and is valid for all matches on 10, 11 and 12 December—haven’t yet been sold out. Last year, many seats were visibly empty. Although the IPTL organisers did not reveal how high the ticket sales are this year, given that Nadal is playing Federer, they say they expect to outdo last year’s figures. “The franchise sold packaged days, which includes this match, and I can confidently say that [which is selling the seats] was quite surprised how fast these tickets were sold,” says Bhupathi. “I will not be surprised if everything this year is notches higher than the previous year, even our ticket sales.”