Tsitsipas, Rublev and Fritz hope Diriyah Cup provides perfect platform for Australian Open

The 12-player tournament returns for its second edition from December 8-10

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev will both compete in the Diriyah Tennis Cup before making their way to Abu Dhabi for the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. Gtty
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Stefanos Tsitsipas said the Diriyah Tennis Cup will provide ideal preparation for the start of the new season while offering a great opportunity to spread the sport further in Saudi Arabia.

The Diriyah Tennis Cup returns for its second edition from December 8-10 as 12 leading male players compete at the tournament hosted at the Unesco World Heritage Site on the outskirts of Riyadh.

Tsitsipas, the Greek world No 4, will be joined by former world No 1 Daniil Medvedev, world No 8 Andrey Rublev, world No 10 Taylor Fritz, world No 12 Alexander Zverev, world No 14 Cameron Norrie, Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios, former US Open champion Dominic Thiem, and three-time Grand slam winner Stan Wawrinka.

Given the strength of the confirmed field so far, the Diriyah Tennis Cup will give the players some high-level and competitive matches as they continue to prepare for January's Australian Open.

“This is going to be very good preparation for me," Tsitsipas, 24, said. "Most players choose to have an off period from tennis but for me, it’s very important to get matches in before I travel to Australia.

“So having good competitors to compete against (top players), this is the best preparation that I can have before starting the 2023 season.”

Saudi Arabia has been increasing its involvement in international sports in recent years; hosting a Formula One Grand Prix, financing the new LIV Golf series, and putting on world title boxing fights among many other events.

The Diriyah Tennis Cup is Saudi's first significant foray into elite tennis, and Tsitsipas believes the sport's continued exposure in the kingdom will help grow the game.

“I know that the people in Saudi Arabia may not have the opportunity to see tennis players like us very often. So, for sure, I’m going to give it my best. I’m going to have a good time," he said.

Andrey Rublev will be making his first appearance at the Diriyah Tennis Cup. EPA

On making his first visit to Saudi, Tsitsipas - a keen traveller who runs his own travel vlog on YouTube - added: “I’m happy they’re introducing a big event like this, and in the heart of Saudi Arabia to give opportunities to citizens from all over the world to explore this beautiful country, through its sports, through its very rich heritage and culture, and through other activities that are available within the country.”

Following his participation in the Diriyah Tennis Cup, Tsitsipas will make the short trip to Abu Dhabi where he competes in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship from December 16-18.

The Greek will be joined at both events by Rublev, who like Tsitsipas is hoping to use the Diriyah Tennis Cup as a chance to sharpen his skills and find some match form ahead of the new season.

“I think it’s really great because sometimes when you finish the season and you have eight weeks of not playing tournaments ... you start to feel a bit stressed or nervous because you can’t tell if you’re improving or not," the 25-year-old Russian said. "So these kind of events help to check how your level is at the moment because you compete against other great players."

Taylor Fritz will arrive in Saudi Arabia following the best season of his career. AP

Fritz, meanwhile, will arrive in Saudi following the best season of his career and the American is looking forward to playing in a new location.

“We’re always on the road and typically, it's the same places every year. So anytime we get to go to a new place, I'm always pretty excited," he said. "I've heard the event’s really nice. I'm excited to come and play against the best in the world and see how it is."

Fritz won his first Masters 1000 title this year, at Indian Wells, and reached a career-high No 8 in the world rankings. As he targets even loftier goals in 2023, the American believes the Diriyah Tennis Cup can provide the sort of preparation not typically available during the off-season.

“I think it's going to help prepare for the Australian Open and for the rest of the year because I can start out by playing against the best players in the world," Fritz, 25, said. "The field is so strong, so it's always great to surround yourself with a lot of great players.

“People should come to support because hopefully it’ll be a lot of good tennis," he added. "Hopefully they’ll be cheering for me to win. They can expect a lot of big hitting, big serving, and hopefully some nice shot-making."

Updated: December 03, 2022, 7:53 AM