Capital gears up for Clash of the Titans
The two legends had contrasting 2015 season before touching down the national capital for the high-profile event, which is the brainchild of India’s very own doubles hero Mahesh Bhupathi.
Federer has been on an impressive redemption road this season while the Spanish player has endured his first season in a decade in which he has failed to annex a single Major title. That 18th Grand Slam title remained out of reach for Federer too but he made two finals — US Open and Wimbledon — losing both times to world number one Novak Djokovic. The fans will miss out on watching Djokovic, who was to play for Singapore Slammers, as the Serbian has pulled out of the event at the eleventh hour citing fatigue. But other big names in men’s tennis — Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka — and some charming heroes of the past such as Marat Safin and Carlos Moya will be there.
The League has Indian stars in doubles world number one Sania Mirza, Rohan Bopanna, who will represent the home team, Indian Aces, while legendary Leander Paes will use his skills for Japan Warriors. Nadal along with Sania and Bopanna form the defending champions Micromax Indians and are scheduled to clash with Philippine Mavericks in the second match of the opening day on Thursday.
The home team, which is on a roll having won three out of the four matches so far, also has world number five Agnieszka Radwanska, who ended the season with a bang by emerging WTA Finals champion. The much-awaited men’s singles clash between Nadal and Federer, the two great rivals on tennis courts, is scheduled for December 12 when Indian Aces will take on UAE Royals in the last match of the Delhi leg.
Former world number one Ana Ivanovic, Australian prodigy Nick Kyrgios will also attract a lot of attention. More than anything, it is a great opportunity for the Indian fans to see their tennis heroes live in action even if it is not competitive and not much is on stake. The event will open tomorrow with Japan Warriors taking on UAE Royals. Bhupathi from day one has maintained that this effort is to bring heroes to the countries that do not host major tennis action. Naturally there is immense interest with all superstars assembling here for the League but it remains to be seen if there they manage to attract more crowds than the inaugural edition.
The high pricing of the tickets was an issue last year which meant that at least half of the stands at the IG Stadium, which has a seating capacity of 15,000, were empty.
Last year tickets were available in the range of Rs 3000 to 50,000 while this year the least-priced ticket is available for Rs 4000 and 4000 tickets are available in this category.
The claims are that this category is sold out but it remains to be seen if fans are willing to dig more deep in their pockets to cheer for their favourite stars. The maximum price for tickets this season is Rs 48000.
Gulshan Jhurani, co-owner of the Indian Aces, says their sale targets are expected to improve this year.
“Last year we had to pay only 15% entertainment tax but this year we are paying an additional 14.5% service tax, so we have tried to rationalise the pricing across all categories. We have increased price marginally in the lowest category but this year we have more saleable tickets with us, so we are hoping that more people will come and watch the action.”
Asked to elaborate, Jhurani explained that as per their contract with Sports Authority of India they are to give 10 per cent of total tickets as complimentary to SAI but this year they have lobbied to get it reduced to 5 per cent. “They have agreed since it is a sporting event. In all 30 percent of tickets go as complimentary. We don’t know those people will come or not but people who have paid for tickets will surely come. So we are selling more tickets this time and giving less complimentary, we are expecting more fans in the stadium,” he said.