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Murray backs new Premier League to spread game to world

LONDON (Reuters) - Wimbledon champion Andy Murray is backing the new Premier League to take tennis to areas of the world that have little chance of seeing the leading players perform.

Speaking at an event to promote this year's International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), the British number one was quoted by the organizers as saying: "Being able to grow the sport globally is important to me.

"It's great to be able to play tennis in parts of the world that don't have a huge tennis heritage but have a big fan base."

The IPTL, which will offer prize money of $29.7 million, will start in November in four cities - Manila, Dubai, Mumbai and Singapore - and the four franchises have attracted top players.

Murray and Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have joined the Manila group, Singapore have world number one Serena Williams and Czech Tomas Berdych, Dubai include Wimbledon top seed Novak Djokovic and Mumbai boast world number one Rafa Nadal.

Former India cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar is part of the Singapore franchise and he said: "Tennis as a sport has always been instrumental in transcending borders and catering to multiple demographies.

"Singapore rivals my home town Mumbai as one of the greatest cities of Asia and I'm confident the cosmopolitan nature of Singapore will ensure our franchise is a great success."

Berdych, former world number one Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, Australian Lleyton Hewitt and Tsonga attended the IPTL event close to the All England Club where the Wimbledon championships start on Monday.

(Reporting by Clare Lovell, editing by Tony Goodson)

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