It’s been quite the ride for tennis player David Goffin of late. The 23-year-old, who started the year coming off a wrist injury and ranked No. 110 in the world, has since won first ATP World Tour title, ended the season with a career-high ranking of No. 22 and was dubbed the ATP Comeback Player of the Year. But like many of today’s most promising players, Goffin isn’t from the United States—he’s from a country that’s smaller than the population of Pennsylvania: Belgium.
In the world of pro tennis, it’s no secret that the days of American supremacy appear numbered—and, some say, may already be gone forever. But there’s perhaps another shift going on that’s even more groundbreaking, and that may set a new course for the direction of the sport—and where the tournaments are heading may provide some insight. A handful of top pros, for instance, are making stops in Singapore (also currently the home of the WTA Finals), Delhi (the first host for the ATP’s Chennai Open) and Dubai, as well as the Philippines (all quite a ways from either the U.S. Open in Queens or Wimbledon in London) as part of the new offseason International Premier Tennis League. At this rate, many observers say, it may only be a matter of time before such events help inspire a kid from the region to become the next Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal. “The Middle East, the Far East and Asia are experiencing tremendous growth as far as tennis is concerned,” says Mahesh Bhupathi, the IPTL’s founder and managing director.