ATP Tour chiefs end speculation over Saudi investment rumours with huge announcement

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz
Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz

Tennis chiefs have been in talks with Saudi Arabian officials over investment into the sport in recent months and now those discussions have led to a bold new agreement.

Amid talk of a breakaway tennis tour that could be backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), ATP Tour chiefs were keen to work to ensure tennis was not disrupted as golf has been in recent years.

Several big-name golfers have signed lucrative deals with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tour and tennis players have also shown an interest in taking the big-money on offer from the PIF.

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz played an exhibition match in Saudi Arabia in December and they will be joined by Rafael Nadal, Jannik Sinner, Holger Rune and Andrey Rublev in a lucrative event being dubbed the ‘Saudi Slam’ this October.

Now ATP Tour chiefs have confirmed they have agreed to a deal with Saudi chiefs that will allow them to have an input into tennis, with the Saudis partnering on ATP Tour events in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing and the Nitto ATP Finals, in addition to the Next Gen ATP Finals, hosted in Jeddah until 2027.

PIF will leverage ATP’s expertise to develop further opportunities for young Saudis in tennis, including via state-of-the-art facilities, coaching, and an enhanced player pathway in Saudi Arabia.

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Massimo Calvelli, ATP CEO, 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.”

Mohamed AlSayyad, Head of Corporate Brand at PIF, said: “As PIF expands its portfolio of innovative sponsorships, our commitment to ‘Invested in Better’ remains unwavering.

“Through our collaboration with ATP, PIF will be a catalyst for the growth of the global tennis landscape, developing talent, fostering inclusivity and driving sustainable innovation. This strategic partnership aligns with our broader vision to enhance quality of life and drive transformation in sport both within Saudi and across the world.”

This deal is bound to attract some negative publicity given concerns over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, but it has been clear for some time that ATP Tour chiefs needed to work with a nation that has the financial power to seriously disrupt the long-established order in tennis.

The close partnership with the ATP Tour is a different approach to the Saudi investment in golf, as they have taken on the structure of the sport and taken away some of the stars.

While America’s PGA Tour are in talks with the PIF over an agreement that will end the war in golf, the deal has been held up by US authorities.

This deal with the ATP Tour is likely to see an increase in funding at all levels of the game, with prize money at the tournaments involved set to be coupled with investment in junior tennis around the world.