Tennis is the latest sport that has felt the advent of Saudi Arabia. The Saudis, renowned for pumping huge amounts of money into the sport they undertake, have now turned their attention to Tennis. An announcement that has ratified this stance is to hold the ATP Next Gen Finals in Jeddah.
The Next Gen Finals, an Under-21 tournament organized by ATP is the first Tennis event to be held in the country. This announcement has sparked mixed reactions from players. Thanasi Kokkinakis, for one, has rendered support to this decision and stressed the need for “extra investment” in the sport, as Tennis players are struggling to make money.
The world number 71 hoped that this would be just the start of good things to come. He felt that the players from other sports enjoyed considerably better financial security, whereas their players weren’t “really worrying”. He opined that the move is great for the game and the players would stand to benefit tremendously from it.
Thanasi Kokkinakis has dumped baseless perspectives
The move to hold the Next Gen Finals in the country is seen as a stepping stone for many more events to follow suit. Talks surfacing to hold the WTA finals in Riyadh, before being shelved for the time being, sheds light on such ideas. But, not all players are on the same page as Kokkinakis and are skeptical of the move.
Daria Kasatkina was one of those who claimed “money talks” and was not in favor of more tournaments in Saudi Arabia. Legends like Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert were also not in support of the move. They chose to emphasize Saudi’s “regressive stance” towards women and how detrimental, it could be to the sport.
Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saud Arabia claimed that the motive behind the move to hold Tennis events was to help grow the GDP of the country. Thus, he quashed claims of “sport washing”. Kokkinakis echoed similar sentiments and said, “I think anything to grow the game, anything to get players paid what I think they’re worth,….”.
🇸🇦🗣️ Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: “If sportswashing is going to increase our GDP, we’ll continue sportswashing. I don’t care.” pic.twitter.com/2X91xnN0D0
— DW Sports (@dw_sports) September 21, 2023
He added that “…tennis is a tough sport out there. You wanna get paid.” A player who is ranked 80 or so in the world could find it difficult to meet their expenses. Nick Kyrgios was one of them who was of a similar opinion and came out in support of it when it first came in.
Top players like Alcaraz, Swiatek, and many others have already expressed their willingness to play in the country, thus making this move to prosper. It is safe to conclude that money plays a big part in the sport and the endeavors from Saudi Arabia should be embraced.