The season-ending Next Gen Finals for men’s under-21 players will be played in Jeddah from 2023 to 2027, as the ATP heads to Saudi Arabia for the first time.
The men’s tour said on Thursday that the tournament, which has been played in Milan since it began in 2017, will also have its prize money increased to a record $2 million, up from $1.4 million last year.
The ATP launched a bidding process in March to evaluate host cities in several regions.
“The ATP Tour is truly global, and exploring new markets is central to growing the game,” ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said in a statement.
“Bringing the Next Gen ATP Finals to Jeddah is our chance to inspire new fans in a region with a vast young population and unite audiences around tennis. Our congratulations go to Jeddah and the Saudi Tennis Federation. We look forward to building on the event’s incredible success together.”
Gaudenzi said earlier this year that there had also been positive discussions with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
Although other Gulf countries like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have hosted ATP tournaments in the past, Saudi Arabia only had the Diriyah Tennis Cup—an exhibition tournament.
Saudi Arabia has pumped huge amounts of money into sports like golf and soccer in recent years. However, critics have accused the country of using PIF to engage in “sportswashing” in the face of heavy criticism of the country’s human rights record.
Three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray had previously ruled out any possibility of playing in Saudi Arabia after being invited to exhibition tournaments. But he said he would have to think twice if ranking points were up for grabs.
In June, WTA CEO Steve Simon said the women’s tour had not made any decisions or entered into any formal negotiations with Saudi Arabia. He mentioned that they still posed “big issues” as a host for women’s events due to its record on women’s rights and those of the LGBTQ community.
✨ Jeddah is next ✨
The world’s top eight 21-and-under singles players are set to put their talents on display in a new city!
— Next Gen ATP Finals (@nextgenfinals) August 24, 2023
Original Story by www.sabcnews.com