Even after two successive appearances, Roger Federer can’t really make up his mind on where to bracket the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) in his busy schedule but the Swiss superstar firmly believes that Mahesh Bhupathi’s brainchild is no exhibition event.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner turned up for the UAE Royals this year after appearing for the Indian Aces in the last edition. But changing the teams hardly made a difference to his popularity with the crowd cheering as vociferously for him as his replacement in the Indian team – the iconic Rafael Nadal.
In the marquee face-off between the legendary rivals last night, Nadal trumped Federer in a shootout to guide his team to a victory. But clearly enjoying the adulation despite the loss, Federer was at his wittiest best at the post-match press conference.
So when asked whether he would call the IPTL an exhibition event, the Swiss maestro came up with an answer that had the media in splits.
“The question is what is an exhibition? There is a kids’ day exhibition in Australia Nickelodeon style, obviously where you hit and giggle with Scooby Doo, you know. This is not Scooby Doo, so clearly we are playing serious tennis,” said Federer as League’s founder Bhupathi laughed along with the present media.
“You have 15,000 people who are serious about tennis, so it is a question of who is in the crowd. Is the crowd filled with 10-year-olds because it’s the kids’ day or is it because people want to see great tennis and support the Indian Aces and the UAE Royals? Depends on how you see it, to me it is serious tennis with the fun aspect of playing for your team,” he explained.