Sports / Tennis

Agassi ranks Thanksgiving ahead of iptl obligations

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-05 09:05

Andre Agassi will snub the inaugural International Premier Tennis League if it clashes with Thanksgiving, the former world No 1 said the day after being drafted by the Singapore franchise.

The eight-time Grand Slam champion was selected in Sunday's player pool for the new Asia-based event but said he has since learned the first match would clash with US Thanksgiving in November.

"It is a good thing to take tennis to places in the world where they want to see it. There is no downside in doing that," Agassi said ahead of his World Tennis Day showdown with former archrival Pete Sampras in London on Monday.

"My agreement to do it was based on a few very specific conditions.

"Certainly economics played a little part in it, but time away played another part.

"I can't be away for more than four or five days, so I set some limitations and had some dates in December.

"Now I read in an e-mail that the dates are over Thanksgiving," said the 43-year-old Agassi who is married to former women's world No 1 Steffi Graf and has two children.

"That would be a non-starter for me. Six or seven days away is too much."

The draft for the IPTL, set up by Indian doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi, saw the four teams - Singapore, Dubai, Bangkok and Mumbai - bid for players. Organizers said a total of almost $24 million was spent.

Sampras also appeared slightly in the dark on Monday.

"It has happened in the last 24 hours," he said. "I have just been in talks with them and I am excited to be a part of it. It is a big endeavor by the guys who are putting the whole thing together.

"But it is not an easy thing to do and we will have to see how it all plays out in the next few weeks. I will get more details when I get home."

Sampras said he would never have entertained the idea of playing in the competition when he was at his peak.

"I didn't have a lot of time off so it would have been a tricky thing to commit to," said the 42-year-old American.

- Reuters

(China Daily 03/05/2014 page24)

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