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By Scott Riley, Tennis Editor - Archive - Email
Tennis happenings
Martina Navratilova All-time great Martina Navratilova became the latest high-profile tennis coach this week.
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - In case you haven't noticed, the ATP and WTA tours are in hibernation until January 4 (unless you count that IPTL exo fast-forward tennis stuff goin' down in Asia).

A plethora of current and former stars lined up for the inaugural season of the exhibition-style International Premier Tennis League, which is directed by Indian doubles star Mahesh Bhupathi, with a motto of "Break the Code."

Catchy.

There are teams in Dubai, Manila, New Delhi and Singapore, featuring the likes of current and/or former world No. 1 studs Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Serena Williams, Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki, Patrick Rafter, Lleyton Hewitt, Carlos Moya, and Ana Ivanovic, not to mention one-time world No. 2 Andy Murray.

Each team has both past and present stars from the men's and women's tours.

Earlier in the week, Djokovic and Federer capped off the India leg of the league with a highly-anticipated clash between the two superstars in front of an electric crowd in New Delhi.

The one-set match between the two great rivals ended in a 6-6 tie under the format rules, as Djokovic's team, the UAE Royals, came away with a 29-22 victory over Federer's team, the Indian Aces.

The tourney features five one-set matches between two teams, with the overall score made up of the total number of games won by each side.

I'm not sure who's following this "league" outside of the Dubai/Manila/New Delhi/Singapore part of the world, but I know the players that are competing decided that they'd rather make some more money instead of resting for the start of the 2015 ATP and WTA campaigns.

What else has been going on in the world of racquets, you say?

The legendary Martina Navratilova became the latest former tennis great to join the coaching ranks, as the 58-year-old Hall-of-Famer signed on to coach 2012 Wimbledon runner-up and current world No. 6 star Agnieszka Radwanska.

The former world No. 1 Navratilova, who piled up 18 Grand Slam singles titles as a player, said it "should be a fun ride" (coaching Radwanska, that is).

Radwanska and Navratilova joined the recent trend of players hiring former greats as coaches, such as Andy Murray employing Ivan Lendl and then Amelie Mauresmo, Novak Djokovic bringing in Boris Becker, Roger Federer partnering with Stefan Edberg, Marin Cilic working with Goran Ivanisevic, and Kei Nishikori welcoming Michael Chang.

Rising American Madison Keys also dove into the former-world-No. 1-star- turned-coach fray by announcing that Lindsay Davenport would work with her in all events stateside, as well as all four Grand Slam events.

The 19-year-old Illinois native Keys is arguably the most-promising talent among the Americans, male or female. She'll head into '15 ranked 30th in the world.

And bucking the trend is John Isner, who decided he wants to be coached by a former world No. 63. Justin Gimelstob. Hmm.

Moving on.

Hey, who doesn't like a good media rights deal story?

This week the WTA agreed to a ground-breaking media rights contract it says will be worth more than $525 million (the largest in women's sports history) over 10 seasons from 2017 to 2026, with plans to produce all 2,000 or so singles matches on the women's tour each year.

The deal will keep the WTA's international television rights with its current broadcast distribution partner, PERFORM, but expand the scope of the relationship. Their current agreement runs from 2013-16.

WTA chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster called the new deal "a game-changer" (of course she did) and said it will "give fans more access to the players they want to watch."

Under the existing contract with PERFORM, Allaster said only about a third of the singles matches at WTA tournaments were produced for broadcast around the globe.

Now the tour and PERFORM are forming WTA Media, which will produce all main- draw matches in singles, along with the semifinals and finals in doubles, at every tour event, plus develop content for the web and magazine shows for TV.

On the domestic front, the aforementioned two-time Grand Slam champion Murray recently proposed to his long-time girlfriend, Kim Sears, although he did pop the question on the same day he fired his long-time friend and coach, Dani Vallverdu.

Barring an unusual circumstance, Murray will become the third member of the "Big Four" to get hitched, joining Djokovic and Federer, who are also already fathers at this point.

Will Rafael Nadal join the mix any time soon?

Happy Tennis!


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