Fans Berate Djokovic & Alcaraz For Signing Up To Play '6 Kings Slam' In Saudi Arabia

Fans Berate Djokovic & Alcaraz For Signing Up To Play '6 Kings Slam' In Saudi Arabia

by Nurein Ahmed

A brand new exhibition tournament is slated to take place in Saudi Arabia later this season, with six of the ATP's biggest stars expected to partake in it, much to the dismay of several tennis fans.

Dubbed the 6 Kings Slam, it will pool four World No. 1s (former and current) in its roster. As the name indicates, six players have been invited to play in the tournament and these are Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner, and Holger Rune.

No official date has been given for when the event will be staged, but early reports suggest it will happen in October. Details about tournament format will also be revealed at some point during the year.

It follows the successful completion of the 2023 Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah and the two lucrative exhibition matches held in Riyadh last December. But nothing is going to compare with the wealth of talent that the Gulf Kingdom is bound to bring to the Middle East for an exhibition in 2024.

However, the news wasn't well greeted by a section of tennis fans, who remain critical of Saudi Arabia's efforts to rebrand its reputation because of its documented human rights record, which has been coined as "sports washing."

For instance, Rafael Nadal's recent unveiling as the ambassador of the Saudi Tennis Federation generated outrage on social media. Some fans of Djokovic mocked the Spaniard but now have eggs on their faces.

The Serb, Alcaraz, and the rest of the players participating have been condemned for promoting tennis in the region. One fan wrote on X (formerly Twitter), "Apparently, it's not only Rafa who takes the "money full of blood" of Saudi Arabia."

Another added, "Disappointing to see this naked money grab. None of them need it - they could make a statement but in the end, it’s just money."

"Anyone playing in this needs to be banned for a year or have 75% of the rank points removed. Off season exhos are ok but not during season," another disgruntled fan wrote.

The tournament is expected to offer millions in appearance fees and prize money. If this trend of hosting lucrative exhibitions continues, low-tier tournaments will lose all relevancy, according to one fan's thoughts.

"Tennis as we know it, will become obsolete shortly if these kind of exhibition events grow in popularity. Why would the top players bother with smaller events? Apart from the Slams, there will be no need for them to play anything else."

With five of the six players on the field being Grand Slam champions, Rune's presence puzzled tennis fans. The Dane is the odd one out as he hasn't won a Grand Slam yet in his career.

As one user seater, it defies the name of the tournament, "No offense to Rune… but I feel like Thiem should take his place for this event instead. With a title called ‘6 KINGS’, you would expect the field to consist of Major Champions (or World No. 1s)."

However, it is still possible that Rune might end up making it six Grand Slam champions in the field as the tournament is expected to be played in October. One user raised this point, "Holger you still have 3 more chances to win a slam this year. No pressure buddy."


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