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Demonetisation hits IPTL: No Roger Federer or Serena Williams for Indian leg of tennis league

The 2016 season of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), already struggling to get star power, will not feature Roger Federer and Serena Williams this year, due to the prevailing "economic climate" in India.

The two former world number ones had been the big-name draws of the Indian leg of this year's International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) which is scheduled to take place in Hyderabad from 9-11 December.

Founder Mahesh Bhuapthi confirmed the absence of the two star players in a statement saying that he explained the situation to Federer and Serena. "We have had challenges this year and we are hoping to get past them. With current economic climate in India and uncertainty of spending money, I reached out to both Roger (Federer) and Serena (Williams) to explain the situation. They have been very supportive of the IPTL the first two seasons and we look forward to bring them in future years," Bhupathi said in a statement.

Here's the official statement from IPTL:

The economic climate to which Bhupathi refers is the government-ordered demonetisation — the move to ban old Rs 500 and 1000 notes, and introduce new currency, that has lead to a cash crunch across India, with big queues outside banks now commonplace after authorities placed a daily limit on withdrawals.

Federer and Serena, who have both been plagued by injuries this year, were to take part in the popular league. While Federer was expected to be part of the Indian Aces, Serena was named in the Singapore Slammers squad. After the Japan-leg, UAE Royals are sitting on top of the table, followed by Indian Aces.

This would have been Federer's comeback to tennis, who last played at Wimbledon in July. He had announced his withdrawal for the rest of the season before the Olympics, and is aiming to make a comeback in the coming season. However, now fans will have to wait till January 2017 to see him action. Serena hasn't played since the 2016 US Open due to a recurring injury as well.

With the absence of Federer and Serena, the other high-profile international player in the league is world number 10 Tomas Berdych, who plays for UAE Royals. Kei Nishikori who played in Tokyo last weekend, was the highest ranking men's singles player before.

Meanwhile, ESPN reported that the IPTL ticket sales have been slow, which could be a result of demonetisation as well, adding to the woes that the third season of IPTL has faced.

Hyderabad is the third and final leg of this year's IPTL which promotes a shortened version of the game that organisers say is more television-friendly than the traditional format.

The first leg was held in Tokyo from 2-4 December , while the second leg begins later Tuesday in Singapore.

With inputs from agencies 

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Updated Date: Dec 06, 2016 12:01:02 IST