Saudi Arabia to Host Next Gen ATP Finals for Five Years. Here is some great news for tennis fans in the Middle East region. Saudi Arabia’s city of Jeddah will host the Next Gen ATP Finals for five years, starting in 2023. This tournament is the U-21 equivalent of the ATP World Tour Finals. In recent years, notable players such as current world no. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Casper Ruud have participated in this event.
This year the tournament shall take place from November 28th to 5th December. King Abdullah Sports City which boasts of a state-of-the-art indoor tennis court will host all the matches. With a shift in the venue, prize money has also seen a quantum jump. The total prize pool saw an increase of 40% from the last five editions held in Milan. The full prize money now stands at $2 million.
Saudi Arabia’s Push to Become a Global Sporting Hub
This will be the first official ATP event in Saudi Arabia. In the past, Saudi Arabia has hosted several high-profile exhibition matches. This is in line with the recent initiatives taken by the Saudi Arabian government led by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to usher in reform and change the country’s global image.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF) is leading the image makeover push. Just last month the European Tour, PGA Tour, and the PIF-backed Pro League announced a major collaboration. In 2021, Jeddah also hosted the first Formula 1 race in Saudi Arabia. The race also took place in 2022 and is again scheduled for November 2023.
In the football world, the Saudi Pro League is creating a buzz by signing a variety of superstar players to compete in the league. Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Riyad Mahrez, Karim Benzema, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and N’Golo Kante are among the notable names joining different Saudi clubs.
Saudi Arabia Faces Criticism of Human Rights
Human rights activists have criticized Saudi Arabia for its poor human rights record. They condemn the imprisonment of female dissidents, crackdowns on dissent and civil liberties, and indiscriminate use of the death penalty. In the past, several tennis players like former world number 1 Andy Murray refused to play in Saudi Arabia. He turned down a $1.8 million offer to participate in an exhibition match. However, recently in an interview, he expressed his willingness to compete in any official ATP event held in Saudi Arabia that offers ranking points. World number 1 Carlos Alcaraz also shared his excitement about this news and confirmed his participation in future events hosted by Saudi Arabia.