ATP and PIF announce multi-year deal as Saudi Arabia increases involvement in tennis

Partnership includes PIF becoming naming partner of ATP Rankings in addition to other sponsorship and activation opportunities

ATP CEO Massimo Calvelli and PIF Head of Corporate Affairs Kevin Foster. Photo: PIF
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The ATP and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced a new multi-year strategic partnership on Wednesday that includes the PIF becoming the official naming partner of the ATP Rankings, with the year-end ATP world No 1, presented by PIF, to be crowned at the ATP Finals in Turin in November.

A statement released by the ATP said the new deal marked “a significant shared commitment to enhancing global tennis for players, fans, tournament organisers and stakeholders at all levels of the sport”.

The PIF will also partner with ATP Tour events in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing and the ATP Finals, as a sponsor with branding and activation opportunities, and will be the presenting partner of the Next Gen ATP Finals, hosted in Jeddah until 2027.

“Following the launch of the ATP’s Baseline programme earlier this year, PIF has further committed to develop and unlock new opportunities for young players and player pathway initiatives, providing a significant boost to the game’s next generation of stars,” read the ATP’s press release.

Former world No 1 Andy Murray was asked to share his thoughts on the announcement, which came just a few minutes after he lost 6-2, 6-4 to French fifth seed Ugo Humbert in the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday.

Murray explained he wasn’t aware of the full details of the deal just yet, but told The National: “I don’t know exactly what it means by sponsoring the events. I don’t know what that will look like.

“One of my concerns is actually more about the investment in lower levels of the game and the grassroots of the sport. I think that’s extremely important.

“Obviously there’s going to be a lot of money coming in, I would imagine, but I hope that that’s not just coming into the top of the game.

“I hope that there’s a plan in place to help actually, if this is what the sport is wanting to happen, there’s a plan in place for the grassroots of the sport down the Futures levels, the junior events, investing in that level to show there’s a real care for the sport and the future of the sport. And if that’s the case then I guess it can be positive. Let’s see.”

The ATP partnership forms the PIF’s first major involvement with professional tennis, which comes on the heels of numerous investments made by the fund in football, golf, boxing, and mixed martial arts to name a few.

The ATP and PIF will also collaborate to “elevate the long-term future of tennis”. PIF will actively contribute to ATP’s OneVision Strategic Plan, which focuses on driving unity, enhancing fan experiences and leveraging scalable growth opportunities across the sport.

“Our strategic partnership with PIF marks a major moment for tennis. It's a shared commitment to propel the future of the sport. With PIF’s dedication to the next generation – fostering innovation and creating opportunities for all – the stage is set for a transformative new period of progress,” said ATP CEO Massimo Calvelli.

Mohamed Al Sayyad, Head of Corporate Brand at PIF, said: "As PIF expands its portfolio of innovative sponsorships, our commitment to 'Invested in Better' remains unwavering.

"Through our collaboration with ATP, PIF will be a catalyst for growth of the global tennis landscape, developing talent, fostering inclusivity and driving sustainable innovation. This strategic partnership aligns with our broader vision to enhance quality of life and drive transformation in sport both within Saudi and across the world.''

Tennis is rapidly becoming a key sport in Saudi Arabia. According to the press release, between 2019 and 2023, the number of registered players increased by 46 per cent. PIF will leverage the ATP’s expertise to develop further opportunities for young Saudis in tennis, including via state-of-the-art facilities, coaching, and an enhanced player pathway in Saudi Arabia.

Last month, 22-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal was announced as an ambassador of the Saudi Tennis Federation.

Nadal, who made a surprise visit to a junior tennis clinic in Riyadh hosted by the STF, will spend time in Saudi Arabia each year to help nurture and plan the development of boys and girls in the sport as well as grow further interest in tennis among the country’s young population.

Discussions between the WTA Tour and Saudi Arabia have also been in the works regarding the staging of the WTA Finals in the Kingdom.

Updated: February 28, 2024, 2:53 PM