Mahesh Bhupathi, founder and managing director of IPTL, has revealed that the tournament has faced a lot of financial hurdle this season, but is confident of bouncing back soon. He has revealed that the lack of top stars in the event was because their “revenue and the cost wasn't matching”.
"We've had some challenges this year but you know we stayed afloat which was the most important thing so you know, whatever it is, we will bounce back," Mahesh Bhupathi said in an interview in Singapore, reported AFP.
The IPTL has been dogged by off-the-field issues this season and there was growing uncertainly over its future. The competition has already been reduced to a three-city affair from the original plan to play across five cities, while Roger Federer and Serena Williams have pulled out of this year’s event. The interest in the tournament has been on the wane with a host of top-ranked players pulling out of the competition. World No 5 Kei Nishikori has also completed his commitment to the tournament in Tokyo last weekend, which means Tomas Berdych is the only top-10 player remaining in the competition. However, Bhupati, who had initially blamed the demonetization in India for the financial trouble, insists that they have avoided bigger names because they could not afford them this time around.
"The revenue and the cost wasn't matching so you know, we didn't want to go into a big (financial) hole just for the sake of doing it. So we thought we would get by with these (other) players and look at the bigger show next year."
He went on to add that both Federer and Serena "very, very keen to play".
Initially, reports suggested that Philippine Mavericks team owners pulled out because the IPTL was late releasing a tournament schedule and dates for ticket sales. But, Bhupati has dismissed these claims saying that the tournament was cut short after receiving feedback from the players, not because of any logistical issues.
"Last year we had five cities and the feedback in general from players was it was possibly too long. One of the things we're dabbling with is doing three cities only every year with probably a few more days in each city and making it rotational," he explained.
Bhupati is adamant that the IPTL retains its charm and that they are aiming to build a brand like the F1. He said, "F1 has build their brand, built their concept and you know they take that amazing show... to new cities and old cities. So I think that's what we're looking to do. Regardless of who's racing, the experience of being there with the music and the entertainment and the fashion it just becomes an event that you want to be part of.”
He went on to add that after the current season end, the owners will get together to sort out the financial issue. "The new money will come in, we just have to figure out where it is coming from," he concluded.