ATP and WTA 250 events will suffer against the Saudi Arbia economic power

A lot of most 'coveted' players will respond to the Arab call, 'snubbing' the official events

by Lorenzo Ciotti
ATP and WTA 250 events will suffer against the Saudi Arbia economic power
© Alexander Scheuber / Stringer Getty Images Sport

In a press conference on the eve of the ATP event in Buenos Aires, the Spaniard Carlitos Alcaraz was asked about Saudi Arabia's entry into the world of tennis. The young ATP No.2 will participate in the pharaonic 6 Kings Slam exhibition tournament, which will be held next October 2024 in Riyadh.

"It's good for tennis that there are more venues, that the countries we go to play in are opening up a little. Arabia is a country that is evolving very quickly in every sense, as a country and in the world of sport . There are a lot of football events, boxing events, now tennis events. I think it's good for the sport in general. I don't know how far we'll go, but it's evolving a lot," he explained

A few days ago Roger Federer also spoke out on the issue.

"One day the Laver Cup could be in Saudi Arabia. We rotate between European cities and cities around the world. I assume Saudi Arabia will be part of this discussion at some point in the future," said Federer's agent Tony Godsick.

To the agent's words were added those of Roger, who declared: "Sport is a language that everyone speaks. Sport can facilitate dialogue and change. I see myself as captain of the team one day, but I would like to see someone else in this position who belongs to the generation after Rod Laver. Someone in the 50 to 65 age group. These guys deserve it first, before my turn comes. 

They reflect the law of supply and demand. These events help tennis to develop especially in areas of the world where this sport is not yet very present. Do you want to buy a Slam tournament? You can not. Do you want to buy an ATP Masters 1000? Difficult. An ATP 500 tournament? You have to get in line. That's why the performances have become so popular. I have great memories of my tours in South America and playing against Nadal in South Africa."

It is clear how the enormous Arab financial power could upset the balance of tennis. Money and earnings can tempt tennis players, flashed by very powerful earning possibilities. Even at the cost of snubbing the old tournaments that are played in conjunction with the rich Arab exhibition events? Obviously yes.

If tennis in Arabia continues to grow, those who will suffer the most will be the ATP and WTA 250 tournaments and, to a lesser extent, the ATP and WTA 500, which will see the most coveted tennis players disappear, who will respond to the Arab call.

Medvedev© Alexander Scheuber / Stringer Getty Images Sport

Indeed, players and Arabia will have to find a way to avoid a ban

The organizers of the Six Kings Slam have announced the entry list of the tournament, which is simply sumptuous given that the names on the field are those of Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner, Rafael Nadal and Holger Rune.

With the sole exception of the Danish player Rune, all players who have already won at least one Grand Slam. Already last December, a performance was held in Saudi Arabia between Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz before their respective departures for Melbourne.

So this time why is there talk of a possible disqualification by the ATP of the participants in this event?

The problem that arises with this event is linked to the fact that the exhibition will take place in October at the same time as other official events of the ATP circuit.

Not in December like the others with the ATP Tour stopped. The rules stipulate that tennis players cannot participate in exhibition events of this type for more than three consecutive days if official ATP events are underway.

But the Saudi organizers have already devised a plan to avoid disqualifications for the players. That is, two days of competition followed by one of rest, in a cycle that will be repeated for the entire competition which could last up to 9 days.

Although the formula has not yet been disclosed. By never playing for 3 days in a row, tennis players will therefore not risk running into a disqualification. But you can bet that the controversy surrounding this performance and the pharaonic sums awarded to the players will continue until October.

During his latest podcast, former US tennis player Andy Roddick reflected on Saudi Arabia, a country in which there is discrimination against women, censorship and political persecution. And the former American tennis player linked his reflection to the world of tennis.

"In Saudi Arabia, coming out is illegal. But we have players who have come out. Several players like Daria Kasatkina, to name one, have come out. If there are tournaments in that country, what should we say to these players who have to take a week off? “How do we protect our players whose lifestyle choices are considered criminal when they enter that country?" said Roddick.