ATP Next Gen Finals Is Just The Start For Saudi Arabia's Venture Into Tennis - UBITENNIS
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ATP Next Gen Finals Is Just The Start For Saudi Arabia’s Venture Into Tennis



King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah

Thursday’s announcement of the new venue for the ATP Next Gen Finals comes as no surprise to those familiar with the world of tennis. 


The Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah has officially signed a contract with the ATP Tour to host the event for five years starting in 2023. It will take place over five days at the King Abdullah Sports City on indoor hard courts from 28 November-2 December. Featuring the eight highest-ranked players under the age of 21, on offer is a record $2M in prize money which is a $600,000 increase on the 2022 event when it was held in Turin.

Ubitennis revealed details about Jeddah hosting the event last month and all of those details reported have been confirmed today. The date for the competition follows directly after the Davis Cup Finals but from 2024 it will be held later in December. This year’s date had to be brought forward because of the FIFA Club World Cup tournament which will be hosted at the same venue. 

Ubitennis understands that Carlos Alcaraz had agreed to play in this year’s Next Gen Finals if it had taken place later in December which was the original plan. The idea is that during what is traditionally the off-season players would be eager to play competitive tennis which they already do via exhibitions. Alcaraz said earlier this year that he expects to play in Saudi Arabia. 

This is likely to only be the start of what could become a very complex relationship between tennis and Saudi Arabia. A county who have invested millions in various sports such as football and golf via its Public Investment Fund (PIF). They have been accused of using sport to improve their reputation which has been marred by wrongdoing. Something that is better known as sportswashing. 

“They are investing colossal amounts of money in entertainment and sporting events to launder its image and portray itself as a “reformist” and “progressive” state. Major sporting events in Saudi Arabia should be seen in this context- as more potential sportswashing,” Amnesty International’s regional campaigner Reina Wehbi told Ubitennis earlier this year.
“These expensive public relations schemes help Saudi Arabia turn the focus away from its appalling human rights record and avoid scrutiny for its continuous human rights violations.’
“Sporting bodies have a responsibility to undertake due diligence to identify and mitigate the human rights impact directly linked to their events.”

Responding to the criticism, Saudi officials have dismissed such allegations and insist they have taken action to improve the rights of their people in recent times. Government Programme Saudi Vision 2030 is focused on making the country more diversified both socially and economically. 

However, the idea that there will be a dramatic cultural change in the Middle Eastern nation is something extremely unlikely to happen. For example, Saudi Arabia draws most of its legal framework from Sharia law which forbids homosexuality. In February their official tourism website stated for the first time that LGBT visitors are welcomed as long as they are not required to disclose their details. Basically, as long as a gay person doesn’t flaunt their homosexuality there will be no issue. A stance that was also reiterated to Ubitennis by the Saudi Tennis Federation. 

“It’s not ideal and I hope the country is going to evolve in the coming years,” openly gay player Greet Minnen told Ubitennis during Wimbledon“The WTA is going to make sure they respect us as players. Not put heterosexual players in front of LGBT players in scheduling or something.”
“It’s not ideal and I hope the country is going to evolve in the coming years.”

It is very unlikely that players such as Minnen or Daria Kasatkina will face any difficulty whilst potentially playing in Saudi Arabia considering how determined the country is to prove its status as an international sporting powerhouse. Something that will undoubtedly be a kick in the stomach for those who are LGBT and living in the country. 

The scrutiny of topics such as human rights in the country will be questions the governing bodies of tennis will face over the coming months. Ubitennis understands that the Next Gen is unlikely to be the only event hosted in the country in the near future. One premier WTA tournament is currently being negotiated with a deal yet to be formalized and there has been previous interest in rights to an ATP event separate from the Next Gen Finals. 

“It is always well received when you have different people come into tennis. I think it’s great if they want to come. This is helping many people in low or big situations. I hope they can come,” Diego Schwartzman previously commented.
“I think if we have new people and new tournaments. It’s a different era.” 

The bottom line is that Saudi investment in tennis is here to stay and it is something that can only be accepted. This doesn’t mean that those within the tennis community shouldn’t call out the authorities over serious issues if they wish to. Those who do should be commended. During the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar came under heavy criticism for its anti-homosexuality laws even though the country has held tennis events for more than 20 years without receiving such scrutiny

“I’m a huge believer in engagement,” WTA co-founder Billie Jean King said in June. “I don’t really think you can change unless you engage. That’s just me personally, I’m not speaking for anyone else here. I’m a big believer in engaging, so I don’t know what that really means in the end, but just meeting people.”

The ATP and WTA will say they are doing what King said. In reality, they are reluctant to turn their back on Saudi Arabia’s investment which will be worth millions. 


Team World One Win Away From Victory in Laver Cup

Team World take a huge 10-2 lead over Team Europe heading into the final day



Image via Laver Cup twitter

After losing the first four editions of the Laver Cup, Team World look set to win the event for a second time as the event reaches its conclusion tomorrow.


Team World Captain John McEnroe was thrilled with the day’s results but warned against complacency: “We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. The job’s not done but we’re pretty close.”

American duo Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe both earned straight sets wins over Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz, while Felix Auger-Aliassime and Ben Shelton beat Hurkacz and Gael Monfils.

“I want to play well for the guys,” said Tiafoe after his singles victory. “I played really well tonight. Just being in a team environment is so foreign to us as tennis players, it’s such an individual sport.”

After winning his third singles match in three appearances at the Laver Cup, Fritz was also motivated to do well:

“Yesterday, all the guys played really well. I felt that and wanted to come out on court and show what I can do. That definitely motivated me. Any type of team environment, I feel like it always elevates my game. I feel like my record in team events is really strong because I have a team cheering for me. I get pumped up. I’m excited to play for them. It just adds more pressure and fire to it. I think I play better in those situations.”

The doubles was a typically dynamic and feisty affair, and after the match Shelton was full of praise for his partner:

“It’s amazing, when you play with a guy who serves and returns like Felix, is as athletic as him, and goes back for the overhead as strong as him, it’s a fun time,” said Shelton. “We call him ‘Laver Cup Felix’ because he turns into something special this week, just glad I got to share the court with him at least once.”

Auger-Aliassime returned the compliments: “The best comes out of me when I’m playing not only for myself but for team-mates. Ben carried me through the end of that match, it was tough for me to get it done.”

Casper Ruud, meanwhile, beat Tommy Paul for Europe’s only points so far.

Matches on the final day are worth three points each – meaning that Team Europe would have to win all four remaining matches to prevent Team World from winning the trophy.

T. Fritz def A. Rublev 6-2, 7-6
F. Tiafoe def H. Hurkacz 7-5, 6-3
F. Auger-Aliassime & B. Shelton def H.Hurkacz & G. Monfils 7-5, 6-4
C. Ruud def T. Paul 7-6, 6-2

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ATP RANKINGS UPDATE: Novak Djokovic, No.1 once more



After the US Open the Serbian champion reclaims top spot. Alexander Zverev is back in the Top 10


By Roberto Ferri

Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion”

Rudy Tomjanovich coined this maxim just after his Houston Rockets won the NBA championship in 1995. He was paying homage to Akeem Holajuwon. It perfectly suits the heart of Daniil Medvedev, who proved 99% of tennis fans in the world to be wrong, convinced as they were that he would lose the semifinal to former No 1 Carlos Alcaraz.

But his dream to win a second US Open, after his triumph in 2021, was shattered by another champion, whose heart and class is even greater: that’s Novak Djokovic, who affixes his seal on his return to No.1, equalling Margaret Court Smith’s record of 24 majors.

Djokovic dethroning Alcaraz is not the only change in the top 20: Sascha Zverev is back in the top 10 after almost one year and Ben Shelton, great protagonist of the Us Open, debuts in the top 20 best players in the world.

TOP 20

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A few comments:

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrei Rublev and Alexander Zverev gain 2 positions.

Ben Shelton devours 28 positions.

Sinner, Tiafoe, Norrie and Dimitrov lose one.

Casper Ruud and Karen Khachanov, runner up and semi-finalist respectively  at the 2022 US  Open, drop 4 positions.

One step forward for Fritz, de Minaur, Paul, Auger-Aliassime and Hurkacz.


From 12 to 19 November the 8 best players of the ranking based on the points earned in the ongoing solar season will be playing the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.

Will Novak Djokovic succeed in winning a second straight title? He appears to be heading in the right direction.


Thanks to his triumph at the US Open the Serbian overtakes Alcaraz also in the Race to Turin.

Jannik Sinner holds fourth spot while Andrei Rublev overtakes Stefanos Tsitsipas and is now fifth.

The eighth position is occupied by Alexander Zverev.

Last year runner up, Casper Ruud is currently 10th. This means he would feature in Turin as a reserve.


The Next Gen Finals, dedicated to the best under 21s, (8 effectives and 2 reserves) of the season will take place this year in Gedda, Saudi Arabia.

The 2022 winner, Brandon Nakashima, will not be defending his title, since he was born in 2001.

PositionPlayerCountryPtsYOB ATP rank
6Van AsscheFrance597200469
12Llamas RuizSpain3702002133

Taking for granted that Alcaraz and, most likely Rune, will be playing the ATP Finals, we have included in the chart the 12 current top under 21s.


Besides Ben Shelton, other 11 players have achieved their career highest this week.

We tribute a double applause to the four players who are making their debut in the top 100.

The 25-year-old Croatian Borna Gojo, 22-year-old Australian Rinky Hijkata and the Swiss next gen Dominic Stricker all reap the reward for their brilliant runs at the US Open. Seyboth Wild, the Brazilian who stunned Medvedev in the first round of Roland Garros leaps to No.76 after winning the Challenger in Como last week.

Seyboth Wild76Brazil30

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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COMMENT: Novak Djokovic Proves His Greatness At US Open



Love him, or hate him. But respect him.


No tennis player has ever been better than Novak Djokovic.

Even Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer have to take their hats off to Novak, and admire him.

Now that Rafa and Roger have left Djokovic on his own stage at least for now, tennis fans love Novak.


Djokovic’s performance on Sunday evening in the U.S. Open final was simply amazing. Daniil Medvedev also played his heart out, but Djokovic went one step further. He was sensational.

It was a thrill-a-minute three-set match. It lasted well into the night after starting at mid-afternoon. The second set alone lasted 104 minutes.

Djokovic was the winner, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3, but New York still loves 2021 champion Medvedev.


At 36, the oldest U.S. Open men’s champion ever, Djokovic obviously has a special place in his heart for the number four. It’s the number of times he has won this tournament and the 24th time he has won a Grand Slam title.

The number 24 also was displayed prominently on the white jacket. Novak, his team members and family wore for the victory celebration as a tribute to the No. 24 jersey of deceased friend Kobe Bryant.

Djokovic lost his footing at least three times in the tight second set, stumbling to the surface once, apparently due to the length of the rallies.

Djokovic could look like he was almost completely wiped out of it physically one minute, and then play like Superman the next minute.


Both men played great tennis, especially in the thrill-a-second second set in which Medvedev gained one set point in the 12th game before Djokovic recovered to force a tiebreaker.

Medvedev appeared to be in charge after out-playing Novak to win one of his drop shots to take a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker. The match may have been decided on the next three points, all won by Djokovic on errors by the 6-6 Russian.

The big question now is what happens next January in the Australian Open. Right now, Djokovic probably wants to play . . . and win what has been his favorite tournament as far as success. But things can change quickly for players in their mid-30s. Just ask Roger or Rafa.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at

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