‘Packed’ schedule pushed Li out of making Bhupathi-backed ITPL commitment

Johannesburg, Mar 4: Australian Open champion Li Na has defended her decision to skip the inaugural International Premier Tennis League (ITPL) tournament, citing a packed schedule as the reason behind her opting out of the Indian Premier League (IPL)-style event.

The brainchild of Indian tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi, the ITPL, which is geared to raise the profile of the game across Asia and the Middle East, has been dealt a blow by the absence of Asia’s top male and female players- Japan’s Kei Nishikori and China’s Li.

According to Sport24, second-ranked Li, who became Asia’s first Grand Slam winner at the 2011 French Open, appears to have no room in her tightly-packed calendar for November and December’s IPTL.

The report mentioned that Li was placed by Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) at the head of a concerted push into Asia including multiple new tournaments in China and the end-of-season championships in Singapore, and she may also be a part of a new, premier-level competition in September hosted by her home city of Wuhan.

Li said that she did not schedule any room for ITL as she had already put together her programme at the end of last year.

The ITPL, which will take place during the off season in the tennis calendar between November 27 and December 14, will feature 24 matches across the four host cities- Bangkok, Mumbai, Singapore and Dubai, and falls at a time when most tour players opt to get some rest, the report added. (ANI)