From the bustling streets of Milan to the serene Red Sea coastline of Jeddah, the transition marks a new chapter for the Next Gen ATP Finals. The year-end event for players aged 21 and under will be now held at the King Abdullah Sports City from November 28th to December 2nd, 2023.
The move has been rumoured for quite some time, and many players shared what they think about playing in Saudi Arabia. While Andy Murray said he wouldn't play in the country, the current 'Race to Jeddah' leader, Carlos Alcaraz said that he has no doubts that he will once play in the country.
Since the young Spaniard currently leads the race for the 2023 NextGen ATP Finals, he could technically compete, but that won't happen as he also became the first player to qualify for the 2023 ATP Finals.
The 2023 Next Gen ATP Finals will offer a record prize money, a whopping US $2 million, but it also stands as a symbol of tennis's expanding global footprint. Global footprint, which is welcomed by some and opposed by others.
Nick Kyrgios sees the positive side as he's happy that athletes will be finally paid what they deserve, but on the other hand, the sport's legend, John McEnroe, advised against the move to Saudi Arabia because of multiple reasons.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion, Novak Djokovic, said that the sport should protect its integrity, but regardless of the previous comments, it's happening and the 2023 NextGen ATP Finals will be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Jeddah's emergence as the next hub didn't come out of the blue. The Saudi Tennis Federation’s (STF) winning bid is in perfect alignment with ATP’s strategic vision of tennis globalization and ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi was happy about the move.
"The ATP Tour is truly global and exploring new markets is central to growing the game. 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."
At the heart of this vision is a commitment to gender equality. Tennis is poised to be the beacon of inclusivity in Saudi Arabia, championing equal opportunities irrespective of gender. A sentiment echoed by Arij Mutabagani, the President of the STF, who emphasized the alignment of the Next Gen ATP Finals with the ethos of their Federation.
"We are extremely proud that ATP has selected Jeddah to host such an important tennis event. The Next Gen ATP Finals embodies the philosophy of our Federation, which is to inspire young talent to reach the sport’s highest levels. We’re excited to collaborate to promote the ATP Tour’s most promising rising stars, and showcase new sporting innovations, in our special city of Jeddah."
Other names currently in the Top 10 of the Race rankings include the likes of Lorenzo Musetti, Arthur Fils, Ben Shelton, Luca Van Assche, but also Alex Michelsen, Arthur Cazaux, Hamad Medjedovic, and Dominic Stricker.