SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Andre Agassi has seen many tournaments come and go in his long and illustrious career and the American great believes the new International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) has all the ingredients to be a long-term success.
The 44-year-old joined up with his Singapore Slammers team mates on the second leg of the Asia-based mixed team event this week and was quick to echo the sentiments of all the players involved, who have been united in their enthusiasm for the innovative competition.
“There’s a lot of upsides in this for me,” he told reporters in Singapore, one of a quartet of Asian cities hosting the IPTL along with Manila, Delhi and Dubai.
“Watching the sport go to places where there should be tennis and enthusiastic fans who can enjoy a format that is motivational to the younger generation in these cities, in these communities,” he added.
”It’s great for them and for the players, acting like a team out there. You want it bad but you also want to keep it relaxed so its a fun environment for us.
“You also get to see so many different match-ups and the game played in so many different ways and that also lends to a better future for the sport.”
Agassi is one of the ‘icons’ on the four teams, who have also recruited a host of big names including Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova.
He predicted fans would warm to the tournament once they fully understand its complex scoring system.
“It’s a bit like our ranking system in that once you kind of get it then you are fine ... you understand it,” said the eight-time grand slam champion.
”So those things are being worked out day-to-day but only a few days into it and everybody is getting a lot more comfortable.
“This will grow for the crowds as next year they will know what to expect. I think that enthusiasm and knowledge will translate but it already is pretty high.”
Regarding the future of the event, Agassi sees it as a welcome addition to the existing tour, but not a game-changer.
“Can you ever say that the pillars of the sport will morph into this? That’s a stretch as we are a sport of great tradition,” he said
“This needs to be a supplement to it in my opinion. It’s a great release for the players and an opportunity to communicate their personalities more.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford