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Five teams for inaugural league unveiled

India's Mahesh Bhupathi celebrates after he and his teammate Leander Paes (unseen) won the Davis Cup doubles tennis match against Romania's
India's Mahesh Bhupathi celebrates after he and his teammate Leander Paes (unseen) won the Davis Cup doubles tennis match against Romania's

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Bangkok, Singapore, Mumbai, Kuala Lumpur and a city in the Middle-East will be home to the first five teams of the inaugural International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) later this year, its organizers said on Tuesday.

The players' draft for the Nov 28-Dec 20 league will take place on March 2 in Dubai, IPTL co-founder and Indian double specialist Mahesh Bhupathi told reporters.

"We've got a pretty exciting player field. We are going to announce that in a couple of weeks," Bhupathi said on the sidelines of the Australian Open.

"We're in the middle of one of the biggest tournaments in the year. We don't want to distract from that."

Former number one Lleyton Hewitt confirmed being part of the city-based league which was announced in May last year with a star-studded lineup that also included Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Among the women, 17-times major winner Serena Williams and twice Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka were named as the headline acts.

"For me when I first heard about it the start of the year, I thought it was a fantastic concept," said Hewitt.

"I've obviously witnessed the Twenty20 cricket really explode as well.

"This has been that format where we get the opportunity to play in a close-knit team which is close to my heart, growing up with Australian football and team sports.

"That's one thing lacking in tennis. We don't get the opportunity to participate in a team," added the 32-year-old Australian.

Every team will have six to 10 players and there will be a $10 million team salary cap, Bhupathi said.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty; editing by Patrick Johnston)

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