Saudi will host its first official ATP Tour event after it signed a five-year deal with the men’s professional tennis association.
The Next Gen ATP Finals is the first tournament that will be held under the deal. It will take place in Jeddah. It is the season finale for the best men’s professional tennis player under-21. World number one Carlos Alcaraz, along with current top-10 players Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas, are among the big names in the men’s circuit who have participated in the event in recent years.
This will be the first official professional tennis event to take place in Saudi Arabia. Previously, it has hosted several lucrative exhibition matches only.
Saudi sports ambitions
Saudi’s deal with the ATP Tour is the latest in its ambitious plans to be a sporting hub in the region. It has invested huge amounts in other sports, such as football and golf. Saudi Arabia has also made headlines hosting a series of high profile boxing events and contact sports. It also hosts the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix of the Formula 1 circuit.
In a statement announcing the deal, ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said “exploring new markets is central to growing the game. Bringing the Next Gen ATP Finals to Jeddah is our chance to inspire new fans, in a region with a vast young population, and unite audiences around tennis.”
According to media reports, Saudi also reportedly approached the women’s tour about hosting an event, which could potentially be the prestigious end-of-season finals.
The ATP says the decision to award the Next Gen Finals hosting rights to Jeddah underwent a competitive process. Host cities from around the Middle East also submitted bids.
Before Jeddah, the Next Gen Finals has been held in Milan since the first edition in 2017. It will be held in November and will offer a record $2m in prize money.
Arij Mutabagani, president of the Saudi Tennis Federation, said, “We are extremely proud to be hosting the event. The Next Gen ATP Finals embodies the philosophy of our Federation, which is to inspire young talent to reach the sport’s highest levels”.
Jeddah is also the host of Saudi Arabia’s Formula 1 race, which first ran in 2021. It was also that year when Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) purchased Premier League side Newcastle United.
The PIF also merged with the PGA Tour earlier this year. It also took under its wings four Saudi Pro League football clubs, including Al-Ahli, Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad and Al-Nassr. It has also invested massive amounts in acquiring top tier players such as Ronaldo, Neymar, and Benzema among other top international players.
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