A new exhibition event called the World Tennis League (WTL) will take place in Dubai in December, which promises to mix sport and entertainment, and will feature Novak Djokovic, Iga Swiatek and Nick Kyrgios, who are among the first set of players to sign up.
I like it most when tennis connects people, and when it's true entertainment. When it's combined with a great show and music, it's even better, so that's the reason why I'm excited to join this year's World Tennis League. Iga Świątek
The WTL is scheduled to debut at the Coca-Cola Arena from 19-24 December with a team-based format that will see two-set matches played across singles and mixed doubles, plus a 10-point match tiebreak to decide the final outcome if needed.
After play each evening, ticket holders for the so-called ‘Greatest Show on Court’ will be able to take in a concert featuring top artists from around the globe, with Dutch DJ superstars, Tiësto and Armin Van Buuren, the first acts to be confirmed.
In addition to Djokovic, Swiatek, and Kyrgios, other players to have confirmed their participation include Simona Halep, Elena Rybakina, and Alexander Zverev.
“This new event is exciting, there’s no doubt about it,” said Djokovic in a WTL release. “I absolutely love playing in Dubai, I’ve had a lot of success there over the years and really enjoy the fans.
Swiatek commented in the statement: “This is something different, and it’s going to be great being a part of it.
“I like it most when tennis connects people, and when it’s true entertainment.
“When it’s combined with a great show and music, it’s even better, so that’s the reason why I’m excited to join this year’s World Tennis League.
“I’m happy that, together with other top players, we’ll introduce tennis as fun to new audiences. I can’t wait!”
Swiatek is the current World No 1 after a remarkable season, having won her second French Open title in June, part of an impressive 37-match winning streak which saw her claim 6 successive WTA Tour titles.
The Pole’s form dipped slightly after she exited Wimbledon early in the 3rd-round, but she managed to find her feet again at Flushing Meadows, winning the US Open for the first time, and she certainly is not taking her foot off the pedal as she will compete at the WTA Finals from 31 October to 7 November.
The WTL is a 4 team competition where 16 of the best male and female players in the world come together along with 6 global performers.
A player lottery will be held on 1 November when the 16-player line-up will be split into 4 teams of 4 players each, and a round robin format for matches across the tournament before a final day showdown with the top 2 teams.
“The World Tennis League will be an event like no other,” said the chairman of World Tennis League, Rajesh Banga. “It brings a unique and engaging new format to the game of tennis, offering a spectacular mix of sport and entertainment together.
“We can’t wait to welcome fans from around the globe for this momentous event that hails a new era for tennis.”
Halep had previously announced that she will not be able to compete in any more official tournaments in 2022, but she is slated to take part in the new World Tennis League.
After a poor US Open campaign and nose surgery, she said: “Having problems with the breathing for many years already and becoming worse with the time, I decided to follow the advice of my doctors and do the needed surgery.
“I couldn’t do it earlier because I never found the necessary three months for recovery.
“I did also the aesthetic part, that I wanted to do for a long time as I did not like my nose at all. I know many of you can understand me.”
Speaking of her future plans, the Romanian said she would take some time to rest and heal before returning to action, but it seems the lure of the new event in Dubai has tempted into participating ahead of the 2023 season which starts Down Under in January.
The 4 teams in the WTL, which are to be called the Falcons, the Eagles, the Hawks and the Kites, and each with its own distinct logo, will be made up from the following player field:
Women: Iga Swiatek, Paula Badosa, Anett Konveit, Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina, Simona Halep, Bianca Andreescu and Sania Mirza.
Men: Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, Dominc Thiem, Nick Kyrgios, Felix Auger-Aliassime Gael Monfils, Grigor Dimitrov and Rohan Bopanna.