International tennis tournament ‘watershed moment’ for Saudi Arabia

International tennis tournament ‘watershed moment’ for Saudi Arabia
of Switzerland is among the players who will take part in the event. (AFP/File photo)
Updated 09 October 2019

International tennis tournament ‘watershed moment’ for Saudi Arabia

International tennis tournament ‘watershed moment’ for Saudi Arabia
  • First event of its kind in Saudi Arabia has $3m prize money
  • Stan Wawrinka and Daniil Medvedev will take part in the hardcourt, outdoor tournament

RIYADH: The first international tennis tournament to be held in the Kingdom is a “watershed moment” for the country, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal has said.

The Diriyah Tennis Cup is a hardcourt, outdoor tournament with a $3 million prize.

It will be held from Dec. 12 to Dec. 14 on the outskirts of Riyadh and is attracting leading players, including three-time Grand Slam winner Stanislas Wawrinka and rising Russian star Daniil Medvedev. They have been confirmed alongside Fabio Fognini and David Goffin.

The prince, who is chairman of the Saudi General Sports Authority (GSA), said: “Hosting world class international tennis in Saudi Arabia for the very first time is another watershed moment for the Kingdom. There’s a deep passion for sport in Saudi Arabia and the Diriyah Tennis Cup will see us reaching new tennis fans, welcome even more international visitors as well as creating amazing memories for all.”

Wawrinka’s career highlights include three Grand Slam titles, an Olympic gold medal and Davis Cup victory.

Medvedev is enjoying a breakthrough 2019 with three titles to his name and was runner-up to Rafael Nadal in last month’s US Open Final.

World number 12 Fognini was the first Italian to win an ATP Masters 1000 title this year in Monte Carlo while Goffin, from Belgium, is a former world number seven.

The remaining four players will be announced later, completing the lineup. 

The 15,000-capacity Diriyah Arena will provide an intimate setting for the event, allowing tennis fans and newcomers to the sport to get up and close to the world’s very best players.

The tournament forms part of Ad Diriyah Season. It includes the Diriyah E-Prix, the “Clash On The Dunes” heavyweight boxing rematch between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua, and the Diriyah Equestrian Festival.

There are many other entertainment and cultural activities over a month-long period from Nov. 22 to Dec. 21.

Peter-Michael Reichel, co-chairman of Basel Sports Group, said: “The eyes of the tennis world will be on Saudi Arabia in December with some of the very biggest names in global tennis battling for the first-ever Diriyah Tennis Cup. The stunning UNESCO world heritage site in Diriyah will arguably be the most unique venue in tennis.”

The Diriyah Tennis Cup will work alongside the Saudi Tennis Federation to use the tournament as an opportunity to inspire Saudi players, new fans and followers of the game.

Cup tickets will be available at www.diriyahseason.sa while the latest news can be found on social media platforms: @diriyahseason. 

International travelers can apply for their tourist visa at www.visitsaudi.com.

Ad Diriyah Season is one of 11 festivals aimed at transforming the Kingdom into an important global tourist destination. 


Barcelona rest Lionel Messi again in Champions League

Updated 02 December 2020

Barcelona rest Lionel Messi again in Champions League

Barcelona rest Lionel Messi again in Champions League
  • Messi was previously rested against Dynamo Kyiv

MADRID: Lionel Messi will get some time off for the last time this season in Barcelona's Champions League match on Wednesday.

Messi, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Philippe Coutinho will be rested by coach Ronald Koeman at Ferencváros in Group G. Barcelona secured a spot in the last 16 after winning their first four group matches.

Messi was previously rested against Dynamo Kyiv. Midfielder Frenkie de Jong was also left out of that match in Kyiv.

“I know it’s not usual, but with the calendar that we have this season, we only had two opportunities to rest Leo, in Kyiv and tomorrow (Wednesday),” Koeman said. “Of course he is a player who likes to play always, and that’s a good mentality. I asked him, but the final decision is always by the coach. The rest of the season he cannot rest anymore because then we play every three days.”

Koeman said Messi will remain crucial for Barcelona even if he doesn't play as much or as well as in the past.

“Leo is always Leo,” he said. “Maybe it has been a slower start to his season, but he doesn’t need to score 30 goals every season. He has been working well and remains very important for us offensively.”

Koeman said Messi’s absence opens the way for others to get some minutes.

“I want to give opportunities to some other players," he said. "Saturday’s match is very important for us in the (Spanish) league and we have to win it.”

Barcelona visit  promoted Cádiz on Saturday in La Liga, where they sit  in seventh place.

Barcelona have a three-point lead over Juventus in their Champions League group. Juventus host  Dynamo on Wednesday and visit  Barcelona in the final round.

Other Barcelona players will be absent on Wednesday because of injuries, including Gerard Pique, Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto and Samuel Umtiti.