Is a Saudi Arabia tennis takeover coming? Latest push by Saudis for a Masters 1000 tournament

When it comes to Saudi Arabia tennis, major changes have already been realized as of 2023. Specifically, Saudi Arabia hosted the Next Gen ATP Finals in November 2023 – the first professional event to be played there ever! 

Of course, there is now a growing belief that this could just be the very beginning of tennis in this region, at least concerning professional events. As for the topic I’ll be exploring today, I want to spend some time analyzing whether there will be a Masters 1000 tournament played in Saudi Arabia anytime soon.

Saudi Arabia tennis

Many regard this as the next big step for Saudi Arabia tennis, yet whether the nation can pull this off or not comes down to many different factors. At the same time, there are some tennis fans who fear that the influence and wealth that Saudi Arabia possesses is actually a threat to the game.

However, the objective today isn’t to share personal opinions on whether this would be good for tennis or not. The objective is to break down the facts and look at the situation of Saudi Arabia tennis from a wider angle to determine whether a Masters 1000 tournament could emerge there.

The current situation of Saudi Arabia tennis

Until 2023, Saudi Arabia had never hosted a professional tennis tournament. Of course, this all changed when the Next Gen ATP Finals arrived in November 2023. This marked the very first ATP-sanctioned event to ever be held in the country – a huge achievement for Saudi Arabia, and a major statement for the overall diversity of professional tennis.

As for the contract that Saudi Arabia has for the Next Gen Finals, news broke back in August 2023 that Saudi Arabia was awarded the rights to host the event. This isn’t a small drop in the ocean either, for the contract guarantees hosting in Jeddah through 2027. Therefore, it’s clear that Saudi Arabia tennis is taking off.

Speaking of which, there are some very interesting demographics in this region that I’d like to share with you. Impressively, the number of tennis clubs in Saudi Arabia has increased by close to 150% between 2019 and 2023. Again, this shows serious financial commitment to the sport.

Adding to that, Saudi Arabia actually hosts 40 tennis tournaments annually, which includes three ITF tournaments. So they are no strangers to organizing tennis events, and it’s obvious that they have a demand for this sport. 

Saudi Arabia tennis Masters 1000 event – what’s fueled the rumors?

Now that I’ve painted a picture of the state of play for Saudi Arabia tennis, let’s address the question of the day more directly. To clarify, the question is whether a Masters 1000 tournament will be added to the ATP schedule and hosted in Saudi Arabia. Of course, only the top decision-makers within the ATP will have the long-term answers to this.

But this doesn’t prevent tennis fans from looking at the facts that are out there right now. That’s precisely what I’ve done ahead of sharing this information with you today. So, let me reveal how the story of a Saudi Arabia tennis Masters 1000 event has emerged in the first place.

First and foremost, the fact that Saudi Arabia was awarded the contract for the Next Gen Finals was obviously a bit of a catalyst. This confirmed speculations that the ATP was starting to take Saudi Arabia seriously, and it prompted fear among those who feel that too much Saudi investment could be bad for the game.

Since then, however, the President of the Italian Tennis Federation has taken to Twitter with a rather profound statement. His post directly mentioned Saudi Arabia hosting a Masters 1000 event in January 2025 and that he hoped this would ‘satisfy their tennis cravings’.

Of course, as the head of a major tennis federation, one can easily assume that he has access to information that the general public might not. Then again, I wouldn’t have thought that this would then be shared on a major social media network before anything official has been announced by the ATP.

But as they say, smoke doesn’t come without fire.

The realistic outcome for a Saudi Arabia tennis Masters 1000 event

Finally, we’ve reached the moment where enough information has been shared to justify a ‘realistic conclusion’ on the matter. However, before I share my conclusion, I should stress that this is merely my opinion as based on the information that is out there right now. 

As for what this opinion is – I believe that it is a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ Saudi Arabia ends up hosting a Masters 1000 tournament. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, money tends to pull on the most important strings when such decisions are involved. 

Since that is just a fact of life, it’s impossible to deny the influence that the wealth of this region will have on professional sports organizations like the ATP. And ultimately, even if Saudi Arabia faces a few hurdles when striving to land a Masters 1000 event, I feel that they will eventually put forward a proposal to the ATP that just cannot be turned down.

Of course, I am specifically referencing the financial angle here. As for why I believe this, using the Next Gen Finals as an example, the prize pool has increased by more than 50% in 2023 when compared to 2022. 

This is an immense difference, and this showcases the ability that Saudi Arabia tennis has to throw serious money out there to get a deal over the line.

FAQs – Saudi Arabia tennis tournaments

What are the chances that the Saudi Arabia tennis 1000 event is held in January 2025?

Although a Masters 1000 tournament could be held there in 2025, it might not be in January unless the ATP/WTA schedules are adapted.

Is there a threat that the Saudi Arabia tennis organizations might create a breakaway professional tour?

At this point, any rumors surrounding a possible breakaway tour are thin on the ground.

Has Saudi Arabia looked to invest in professional tennis already?

As it happens, yes they have. In 2023, Saudi Arabia made moves to try and buy both the Miami Open and Madrid Open, but both deals haven’t materialized.

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