RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has ambitions to bring international tennis to the Kingdom for years to come following next month’s inaugural $3 million Diriyah Tennis Cup. On December 12, 13 and 14, eight of the world’s best men’s players will compete for the inaugural $3m Diriyah Tennis Cup at the custom-built Diriyah Arena – in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site, on the outskirts of Riyadh.
So far six names have been revealed, with two more big name ‘wildcard’ entries to come, but already organisers are looking to the future with the Diriyah Tennis Cup intended to be a springboard into having a regular place on the tennis calendar.
His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal, Chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA) of Saudi Arabia, said: “We want to host international tennis in the Kingdom every year. We want to demonstrate our capabilities in hosting and organizing a successful international tennis event of this magnitude”.
“Personally, I am very excited that we have eight world class players competing at Diriyah Tennis Cup, this is the start of a new era for tennis in the kingdom, and we foresee the tournament growing and being part of Saudi Arabia’s future in the sport.”
The Diriyah Tennis Cup is part of the Diriyah Season, an epic month of showcase sports events being hosted by the GSA. The Diriyah Tennis Cup has confirmed six leading players to date for the inaugural tournament. This includes three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland as well as the current world number 5 and one of the game’s biggest rising superstars, Daniil Medvedev of Russia.
Talented world number 12, Fabio Fogini, who was the first Italian to win an ATP Masters 1000 title this year in Monte Carlo and highly-rated David Goffin (Belgium), the former world number 7 will also present in Diriyah.
The big-serving American John Isner, with over 10,000 aces on tour, and five-time ATP champion Lucas Pouille of France, an Australian Open semi-finalist this year complete the current line-up. Officials will name the final two players in the coming weeks.
The Diriyah Tennis Cup is taking place at the 15,000-seater Diriyah Arena which was visited by HRH Prince Abdulaziz this week. The tournament will happen just a week after the same venue plays host to the Clash On The Dunes, the world heavyweight title fight between Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua OBE.
Inspiring a new generation of tennis talent HRH Prince Abdulaziz, believes bringing the Diriyah Tennis Cup will also help fire up its following in the Kingdom, and one day help the nation produce its own champions.
“Today we are keen to develop tennis in the Kingdom,” he said: “It is a well perceived sport and there’s a strong platform for practicing and playing competitively in many cities with such cups and contests.
“By bringing eight of the very best players to this first tournament Saudi Arabia will put our young talent, our male and female tennis enthusiasts, in direct exposure with global standards, and witness these champions up close and live.
“That will be a great learning opportunity for them as well to benchmark where are they now and to start developing themselves professionally to aim for these standards, and in future, be part of the grand slams across the world.”
The Diriyah Season is a month-long celebration of sport, kicking off with Formula E, followed by the World Heavyweight title fight the ‘Clash On The Dunes’, the Diriyah Tennis Cup and the elite Diriyah Equestrian Festival. Tickets are now available at www.diriyahseason.sa