Saudi investment in tennis won't lead to same woes as golf, says Craig Tiley

Australian Open chief says talks of potential PIF investment in tennis will focus on bolstering current structures of the game

Australian Open CEO Craig Tiley believes any potential investment by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund will be used to boost current structures. EPA
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Australian Open chief Craig Tiley believes any Saudi investment in tennis will avoid the disruption that fractured golf because talks are focused on bolstering the current structures of the game.

ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi told the Financial Times last week that he had "positive" discussions with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) and other potential investors.

Talk of a potential partnership comes after the PIF-backed LIV Golf circuit engaged in a bitter two-year dispute with the PGA Tour before announcing an agreement to merge – along with DP World Tour – and form one unified commercial entity.

While specific details from the meeting have not been made public, the Financial Times reported that the ATP Tour are seeking investment for infrastructure, technology, and events in new markets.

"What's different to what we're seeing [in other sports] is this is an investment in the current structure of the game and not an investment in an alternative option," Tiley told reporters on Tuesday.

"But like everything in the world, there's lots of changes always going on. So you've got to watch what's going on and stay close to it.

"But, ultimately, that's a decision for the men's and the women's tour."

Saudi Arabia has pumped huge amounts of money into sport in recent years. The PIF holds a majority stake in Premier League club Newcastle United, has a long-term deal with Formula One, and increased its stake in the Saudi Pro League's four biggest clubs, which has helped finance the arrivals of some of the biggest names in world football including Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

Competitive men's tennis could go to Saudi as early as the end of this season, following reports that the ATP's Next Gen Finals – the end-of-season event for the leading under-21 players – could be held in Jeddah as part of a new five-year deal.

Some of the world's top players have already featured in the Diriyah Cup exhibition event on the outskirts of Riyadh and world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz said earlier this week he had "no doubts" he would compete in Saudi Arabia at some point.

Australia's Nick Kyrgios welcomed the news of the ATP's discussions on investment from Saudi Arabia and said it would bring players the financial rewards they deserved.

"Finally. They see the value," he tweeted above a report of the talks between the Saudis and ATP.

"We are going to get paid what we deserve to get paid. Sign me up."

Updated: June 27, 2023, 8:52 AM