New Delhi, Nov 17: As a new and unique brand of tennis makes its debut in the country with a mix of Indian and international stars, veteran Leander Paes says the Champions Tennis League (CTL), for him, is about "making friendships".
The Vijay Amritraj conceptualised league is kicking off this evening with a double-header in the Capital and Hyderabad.
"It's a unique format, men and women coming together. For me it's about friendship," the 14-time Grand Slam winner Paes, who will be representing Punjab Marshalls along with Gred Rusedski, Somdev Devvarman and Garbine Muguruza, said today.
Paes added: "After 10 years I will be finally playing doubles with Somdev." Punjab Marshalls are kicking off their campaign with a match against Delhi Dreams, to be led by former French Open winner Juan Carlos Ferrero, who will also have former world number one Jelena Jankovic, Kevin Anderson and Sanam Singh as his teammates.
Jankovic, the 29-year-old Serbian singles star, was looking forward to the tournament and said the courts at Delhi Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA), venue for the tournament, are "really nice".
Asked about the prospect of playing against Martina Hingis - the Swiss star is making a comeback to competitive tennis after retirement, Jankovic said, "She has not played singles for so long. I played against her many, many years ago. It feels good but we have to reach the final to face each other."
She added: "The format is quite different, exciting and it's fun to play in this part of the world. I have never played something like that. I am looking forward to playing in this kind of competition."
India's numero uno singles player, Somdev said: "It's going to be a great opportunity for the juniors playing alongside some of the greats. Indian tennis is very lucky."
Former French Open winner Juan Carlos will start his side's campaign against Greg Rusedski of Delhi Dreams later in the evening. Anderson said he has "played in a similar format in the US".
"It's a different side of tennis," the 28-year-old South African said. As far as his fitness was concerned, Spain's Juan Carlos said, "I have my own academy where I live, the kids train there. I am still playing tennis and I am fit."
Each tie will have five matches, beginning with legends singles, followed by mixed doubles, women's singles, men's doubles and concludes with the men's singles rubber.
Each match will be a one-set affair and tie-breaker will be introduced at 5-5 and not at the usual 6-6. In the end, the team that wins the maximum number of games will be declared winner.
In the second match of the day, Hyderabad Aces will host Bangalore Raptors, who boast of seven-time singles Grand Slam champion Venus Williams.