Nick Kyrgios with a defiant message as Saudi Arabia prepare to invest in tennis

Kevin Palmer
Nick Kyrgios antics
Nick Kyrgios antics during a match

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is creating shockwaves around the sporting world and now tennis is set to be the benefactors of some big-money investment.

Golf has been transformed by the input of Saudi money, with some of the game’s biggest stars leaving the PGA Tour to sign lucrative contracts with LIV Golf.

They have also made a huge impact in football, buying Newcastle United and reportedly helping American businessmen Todd Boehly buy Premier League side Newcastle from Russian oligarch Roma Abramovich last year.

The Saudi’s are also looking to build their domestic league, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema among the star names who have signed up to play in the Arab state,

Now it has emerged the Saudis are in talks with ATP tennis chiefs over a big-money investment and if their interest in other sports is a gauge, they will look to revolutionise the game in the coming years.

The debate over prize money in the game has been rumbling, with players outside of the top 100 in the ATP rankings often struggling to make a living from the game.

Now Saudi investment could transform the landscape for prize money, with last year’s high-profile exhibition event in the country a sign of what might be to come.

The Diriyah Tennis Cup attracted some of the biggest names in tennis, with all paid loft appearance fees to perform in the event.

Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev of Russia, Alexander Zverev of Germany, Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland and Austria’s Dominic Thiem joined British No 1 Cameron Norrie and Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in the draw.

The event divided opinion in tennis, with Andy Murray among those who suggested he would not play in Saudi Arabia on human rights grounds.

“I wouldn’t play, no,” said former Wimbledon champion and world No 1 Murray of the Saudi event.

“If I was one of the golfers who stuck with the PGA, I would probably be a bit frustrated and feel a bit let down.

“I guess there have been lots of different sporting events there over the last few years.

“There have been a lot of major boxing fights have been there, there’s the golf, I think there was a Formula 1 race there too.

“I would imagine it will only be a matter of time before we see tennis tournaments played there too.”

Now it seems the ATP are open to investment from the Saudi PIF, with Kyrgios quick to offer his support to the plan with this unequivocal message posted on Twitter in capital letters:

The ATP have yet to comment on their talks with the Saudi authorities, with prize money certain to be a topic under debate in discussions.

There are suggestions that this year’s ATP Next Gen Finals could take place in Saudi Arabia, with the possibility of more events such as a Masters 1000 tournament being staged in the country.

That would test the resolve of players like Murray, but the overall picture would suggest this could be a revolutionary development for the sport.

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