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Reports: Saudi Arabia to host Next Gen ATP Finals

Jeddah frontrunner to land tournament on a five-year deal.

2 May 2023 Josh Sim

Getty Images

  • Next Gen Finals features top U-21 tennis stars competing at the end of the season
  • Women’s edition could potentially be added in combined event

Saudi Arabian city Jeddah is the leading bidder to host the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP)’s Next Gen Finals, according to multiple reports.

First held in 2017, the Next Gen ATP Finals is an annual men’s tennis tournament organised by the elite men’s circuit and featuring the top under-21 ranked players of the season. Past winners include Italy’s Jannik Sinner, Spanish world number two Carlos Alcaraz, and American top-50 player Brandon Nakashima, who won last year’s edition.

The competition has been held in the Italian city of Milan since its inception, but reports now suggest that Saudi Arabia is the frontrunner to take on its hosting rights. According to The Telegraph, a five-year agreement is close for Jeddah to host the Next Gen event and become the first professional tennis tournament to be held in the Gulf state. The newspaper reports that despite Jeddah not putting in a significantly higher bid than other cities, it leads the race for the hosting rights as the ATP is keen to cultivate closer ties to the Middle East.

In addition, the Next Gen event could potentially become a combined event for men and women, with talks between the ATP and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) having already taken place last year. According to the Daily Mail, a possible introduction of a women’s edition could take place around 2025.

Saudi Arabia already stages an exhibition tournament in the Diriyah Cup, which has featured top players on the men’s tour. Last year, US tennis star Taylor Fritz won the tournament, winning a lucrative US$1 million in the process.

SportsPro says…

Saudi Arabia’s drive to host major sporting events doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. As well as being the hosts of the 2023 Fifa Club World Cup and the 2029 Asian Winter Games, the Gulf nation has been linked with a second Formula One Grand Prix, the 2030 Fifa World Cup and even the Olympics.

Should Jeddah be confirmed as the host of the Next Gen event, the ATP should expect to face criticism. Last year, British tennis icon Andy Murray ruled out any possibility of playing in Saudi Arabia, while Amnesty International has previously urged those competing at the Diriyah Cup to speak out against the country’s human rights record.

The addition of a women’s edition of the event would also be a major step for Saudi Arabia’s tennis ambitions, given it has already inquired about staging a WTA Tour event. Given the country’s record of limiting women from participating in sports, it would prove a controversial move by the WTA, which recently ended its boycott of China despite not finding answers over the welfare of former player Peng Shuai.

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