Saudi Arabia's interest in hosting an ATP Masters 1000 tournament is gathering pace and is setting sights on purchasing one of two staple events on the calendar.
Through its sovereign wealth fund, PIF (Public Investment Fund), Saudi Arabia has thrown an influx of cash towards sports investments. Some of its colossal spending includes buying world-class football players for astronomical wages, fostering a successful golf merger, and hosting wrestling and boxing matches.
Tennis appears to be the untapped sport that the Gulf state is targeting. So far, it has secured hosting rights to stage the Next Gen ATP Finals beginning this season until 2027. And as the Athletic reports, talks to buy either Miami or Madrid are at the preliminary stages.
Miami and Madrid are two of nine ATP Masters 1000 tournaments. This is the second highest-level tournament category in tennis after the Grand Slams. These two tournaments are also held as a combined 1000-level event across both tours.
Tournaments of this magnitude have in the past sold for substantial millions of dollars. But money is not going to be a drawback of any potential deal. Saudi Arabia's long-term plan of becoming a prominent sporting hub on the global stage should make any deal rather seamless.
Saudi Arabia had been touted as one of the favorites to host the WTA Finals this season, but talks fell through and the event was held in Cancun, which has generated outrage due to the state of the court and playing conditions, in addition to the short window of preparation for the players.
Recently, the President of the Italian Tennis Federation, Angelo Binaghi, spilled the beans of Saudi Arabia's dalliance with the ATP leadership team stating that the Gulf Kingdom will host a Masters 1000 tournament by 2025.
The ATP has not commented about this discourse, but it is worth noting that the chairman Andrea Gaudenzi has been in constant talks with the sporting figureheads in the Middle East.