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

  • 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. 


One down, 2 to go for treble-chasing Bayern Munich

Updated 02 July 2020

One down, 2 to go for treble-chasing Bayern Munich

  • Bayern are expected to secure the league and Cup double for the 13th time

BERLIN: Bayern Munich are expected by the club's own hierarchy to take the next step towards the treble in Saturday's German Cup final before they attempt more Champions League glory in August.

The German press dubbed Bayern “FC Nimmersatt” (never satisfied) after celebrating an eighth straight league title last Saturday, the 30th in the club's history.

“The team is in such good shape that they are able to win every title this season,” said Bayern President Herbert Hainer.

Before tackling Europe and a possible repeat of their 2013 treble, Bayern face Bayer Leverkusen in Berlin in Saturday’s Cup final having already lost to the Werkself this season.

Leverkusen Sporting Director Rudi Voeller has promised a “big fight” as they look to repeat November’s shock league win when Jamaica winger Leon Bailey scored twice at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern are expected to secure the league and Cup double for the 13th time.

“We'll tackle everything, those are our goals,” said Bayern head coach Hansi Flick, who only took over mid-season.

“At Bayern, you always think a bit bigger. First the Cup is in focus and then it's important the team has some time off and the staff can clear their heads.

“After that, we'll prepare intensively for the Champions League.”

Flick plans to send his players on a two-week holiday after the Cup final before a training camp ahead of their last-16 second leg against Chelsea on Aug. 7 or 8.

They hammered Frank Lampard's Blues 3-0 in February's first leg in London, making Bayern among the favorites to be European champions.

Bayern could face a disadvantage against potential opponents in the Final 8 tournament in Lisbon, due to start on Aug. 12, from leagues which are not scheduled to finish until late July.

La Liga runs until July 19, while the Premier League is set to end a week later, with Serie A not slated to come to a conclusion until Aug. 2.

Only PSG and Lyon will have had less game time than Bayern and RB Leipzig, as Ligue 1 was ended early due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We just have to make sure that we make the best of the situation,” Flick said.

“It could be an advantage because one or two players would be available again.”

Bayern's forwards are in stellar form.

Thomas Mueller produced a Bundesliga record 21 assists this season, while striker Robert Lewandowski has netted 49 times in 42 games, including 11 in the Champions League.

Bayern have been European champions five times and two of their 2001 title-winning team are being groomed to take charge.

Former midfielder Hasan Salihamidzic is sporting director, while ex-goalkeeper Oliver Kahn will replace Karl-Heinz Rummenigge as chairman in 2022.

“In 2001, we won the Champions League together playing in jerseys, now we want to repeat that success with him in suits,” said Salihamidzic.

“Oliver feels the same way — we'll give everything to see it happen.

“It's our turn again.”