Federer and Sampras smile as they play against Agassi and Nadal during their doubles exhibition doubles in the Hit for Haiti fund raiser event at the Indian Wells.
Sampras-Federer [Reuters] Reuters

All-time tennis greats such as Pete Sampras, Goran Ivanisevic and Andre Agassi are hitting the player circuit once again, to lock horns with the likes of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

The return of some of the game's most cherished exponents has been made possible by the newly-launched International Premier Tennis League (IPTL).

The inaugural player draft for IPTL, which took place in Dubai on Sunday, saw evergreen legends of tennis being lapped up by the four teams, alongside the best from the current crop of players.

There are four teams in this year's inaugural ITPL -- Dubai, Bangkok, Mumbai and Singapore. The tournament will take place between 28 November to 20 December home and away, in each of the four cities.

Every match will consist of five sets and will see all the formats of the game played in a single match, with the final set being played between the past legends of the game.

Multiple Grand Slam winner Mahesh Bhupathi, the man behind the IPTL, said he is delighted to have star players from the past and present taking part in the end-of-the-year event across major cities in Asia.

"We've got some unbelievably strong teams. I think out of the 28 players that got drafted we have about 21 Grand Slam champions. We have 14 present and past number ones. It's a pretty blockbuster field," Bhupathi explained.

Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokovic-Rafael Nadal [Reuters]

Rafael Nadal, the current World No 1, will team up with legendary Pete Sampras. The two Grand Slam champions from the past and present will play for the Mumbai-based team.

Sampras, who won 14 Grand Slam titles in his career, will be back in action after almost over a decade. The American has taken part in charity matches after retirement, but tennis fans will get to see Sampras play competitively at IPTL.

Andre Agassi and Patrick Rafter, two of Sampras' fiercest rivals, will play for the Singapore team. The two will be joined by Serena Williams, Tomas Berdych and Lleyton Hewitt among others.

The fans of the game will get to relive the rivalry between Sampras and Agassi, who have played 34 times at the top level. Sampras came out victories 20 times, but the game between the two will still be regarded as the best in the open era.

Agassi has won eight Grand Slam titles and has seen a lot of ups and downs in his long tennis career. The American was the biggest star in men's tennis in the 90s.

However, Agassi's downfall came just before the start of the millennium as the last few years of 90s saw him endure poor form. He slumped to World No. 141 in 1997 but that did not stop him from making a glorious comeback.

Andy Murray
Andy Murray [Reuters] Reuters

Agassi fought back and came stronger to win the French Open in 1999 and the Australian Open in 2003 and he is the last American to win those two Grand Slams.

It would be great for the fans to see him back in action in the IPTL. Should he get a chance to face Sampras, it will be the match made in heaven as the fans of the game will get the two legends play against each other for one more time.

Team Dubai has also selected a strong team for the inaugural ITPL, with Novak Djokovic being their icon player. The World No 2 will be joined by the former women's World No 1 Caroline Wozniacki, who will be one of the star attractions of the tournament.

The two will be joined by Goran Ivanisevic, who still lives in the memories of tennis fans after his surprise win in Wimbledon in 2001. The Croat defeated Rafter, who now represents the Singapore team in the IPTL, to win the finals 6–3, 3–6, 6–3, 2–6, 9–7, his only career Grand Slam title.

In 2001 Ivanisevic was a Wimbledon wild card and is the only player ever to win the Grand Slam after making to the competition through wild card. He temporarily retired in 2002 following a shoulder injury. However, a third round defeat to Lleyton Hewitt in Wimbledon subsequently saw him retire from professional tennis.