A significant event for the world of tennis: The Association of Tennis Professionals has formed a collaboration with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.

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The impact of Saudi Arabia’s power in men’s tennis has expanded as the ATP Tour has reached a “long-term strategic collaboration” with the country’s Public Investment Fund.

Due to the agreement, the ATP rankings and the world No.1 award at the end of the year will now be referred to as the PIF. The PIF will also be showcased through on-court branding at key ATP 1000 tournaments including Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, and Beijing, as well as the ATP Finals in Turin.

However, although the deal increases the Saudis’ presence in the professional tennis world, it is not a direct threat to the current system. It is not a repetition of the LIV Golf strategies, but rather an indication that the PIF wishes to collaborate with the sport’s current governing bodies. It is worth noting that they do not have a 1000 tournament of their own at this time, despite expressing interest in hosting one.

According to a press release, the ATP announced that the new agreement, estimated to be valued at a sum of around one million dollars, would also improve the future of tennis in the long run.

Massimo Calvelli, the ATP chief executive officer, said: “Our strategic partnership with PIF marks a major moment for tennis. It’s a shared ­commitment to propel the future of the sport. With PIF’s dedication to the next generation – fostering innovation and creating opportunities for all – the stage is set for a transformative new period of progress.”

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will play in a new exhibition tournament in Saudi Arabia in October as part of the deal.View image in fullscreen

The ATP additionally announced that the PIF will play a role in the OneVision Strategic Plan, positioning it at the center of the sport’s politics.

Saudi Arabia has made significant investments in different sports such as football, Formula One, boxing, and golf in recent years, aiming to expand its economic ventures beyond oil and enhance its appeal as a desirable living destination, in line with its Vision 2030 goals.

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Some critics have claimed that PIF is being used to improve the country’s image regarding human rights. Numerous high-profile athletes have participated in well-paying exhibitions in the nation, and a new event called the “6 Kings Slam” will showcase top players in October, including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner, Daniil Medvedev, and Holger Rune.

The discussion about the possibility of Saudi Arabia hosting the WTA Finals for women’s tennis is ongoing. Legendary players Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova have voiced their opposition to this idea, leading to strong backlash from the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

Source: theguardian.com

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