Breaking the IPTL Code

Recent studies have shown that 9 out of 10 people in Bangalore are confusing Mahesh Bhupathi’s new tennis league IPTL with ITPL, the name by goes the Information Technology Park Limited in Whitefield, Bangalore.

But people from other cities don’t have it any easier. There’s enough in IPTL to confuse you irrespective of where you come from. As this 3-minute YouTube video explaining the rules of IPTL perfectly displays.


The video starts with the logo of IPTL, which, by the way, looks suspiciously similar to KKR’s. And the words ‘Break the code’, thereby implying that breaking the unspecified code is what this league is all about.

Truer words have not been written in advertising history.

So difficult is it that the Million Dollar grand prize should actually be for breaking this code rather than for winning the league.

Alright, here’s our best attempt to explain the rules.

1. There are four teams – Philippines, Singapore, India, Dubai. Teams play each other once in every country. There are three days of tennis in each country.

2. Single set matches. But each game won adds a point to the team. Tie-breaker happens at 5-5. The difference of two rule, the cornerstone of tennis, seems to be missing.

3. There’s some complicated scoring mechanism to decide which team earns how many points, despite winning or losing, which you don’t really need to understand right now.

4. A slew of measures, including timers and clocks, will make sure that the game continues at a breakneck speed, leaving you little time to ask ‘Why am I watching this, again?’

5. They have something called a ‘Power Point’ (Excel and Word must be so disappointed). We see players using it when receiving serve at 15-30. Or, at 15-15 when trying to break to stay in the match.


Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 4.56.18 PM


6. As per the video, the final match is “very important”. Well, we would have never guessed that.

7. Even after all this, the winner may be decided by any one of four criteria – one of which is a coin toss. YAY!

That’s million bucks in our bank account!

Early reactions 

Not surprisingly, the new rules aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Warning: It may all change given that the thought of Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Sharapova and Ivanovic playing in Delhi or Mumbai is quite lip-smacking, to be honest.

Not a smooth serve

There’s a lot riding on IPTL for Mahesh Bhupathi. He had announced the league with much fanfare, signed up all the top players – present and past. But, since then, it’s been a turbulent ride for India’s tennis ace.

When first announced, IPTL had five city-based teams. Bangkok, Singapore, KL, Mumbai, and a Middle East city were mentioned. It seems to have changed a bit since then to end up being Philippines, Singapore, India, and Dubai.

The franchise auctions had been behind closed doors with little information being shared about owners or the financials, leading to all sorts of speculations and stories. Boris Becker was mentioned as a co-founder of IPTL. MP and Silva had bagged the international television rights.

There were a fair number of naysayers, as expected. Like this one here in the Daily Mail.

In June this year, the team owners were somewhat revealed when they met at a conclave in London.

Sunil Gavaskar is part-owner of the Singapore team, along with some businessmen from Kenya and Dubai. Gavaskar’s son, Rohan, will be involved in running of the franchise. (Yeah, I know.)

Micromax owns the Indian team. It’s called Indian Aces. Such a creative name could only have come from the Micromax stable. They also brought together Federer, Sampras, Ivanovic, Monfils, Sania, and Bopanna in one video and still screwed it up so bad.

It still promises to be great

Federer, Murray, Djokovic, Tsonga, Sharapova, Ivanisevic, Wozniacki, Sampras, Monfils, Agassi, Rafter, Serena. It can’t get bigger than this. It should be a fun format and intense too, if the players take it seriously enough.

Despite the confusing rules, which I think we’ll all get when we start to watch it, I do hope IPTL captures the public imagination. We’ll be watching for sure. After all, who wouldn’t want to see Sampras and Agassi face off once again? Four times. With the winner decided by the toss of a coin. Hallelujah!

To know more about the IPTL teams and players, here’s their wikipedia page.

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