Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal To Headline New Saudi Exhibition Event - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

ATP

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal To Headline New Saudi Exhibition Event

Published

on

Novak Djokovic at the 2023 Davis Cup Finals (photo by Marta Magni)

Saudi Arabia is set to stage a new men’s exhibition event featuring five Grand Slam champions during what will be a packed month on the ATP Tour. 

The Six Kings Slam is set to take place in October with participants including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and recently crowned Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner. it will be held in the city of Riyadh but the date, venue and format of the event are yet to be announced. Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev and Holger Rune are also set to take part in the event which will likely be awarding thousands or millions in prize money.

“I am excited to return to Riyadh and play in front of all my Saudi fans”. Djokovic said in a press release. 

It has been reported that organisers originally hoped to stage the event shortly after this year’s Australian Open but postponed it due to Nadal’s injury. Nadal recently signed a high-profile deal to become an ambassador for the Saudi Tennis Federation (STF) where he will travel to the region multiple times throughout the year and is set to open an academy there. 

“After some other tennis players have done so, I am very excited to play for the first time in Riyadh,” the Spanish former world No.1 commented. 

The timing of the event coincides with what is already a packed Tour schedule. October starts and ends with Masters 1000 events in Shanghai and Paris. Between those events, are two prestigious 500 tournaments in Vienna and Basel. Sinner is the defending champion in Vienna, Medvedev is defending runner-up points from the same tournament and Rune is defending semi-final points from Basel. 

The only way those players can remain committed to playing in Basel and Vienna would be if the King Six Slam is held between October 14-20 which is the same week three ATP 250s are taking place. However, it remains to be seen if the likes of Djokovic and Co would be willing to play four consecutive weeks leading up to the prestigious ATP Finals in Turin, Italy. 

“I am really looking forward to coming back to Saudi,” Medvedev commented. “Ever since my first trip in 2019, I have been back several times and really looking forward to being part of this new event. The best players in the world all in one place is exciting. I cannot wait to see everyone out there.”

Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in holding tennis events in recent years with 2023 being the first year they staged an ATP tournament. The Next Gen Finals was held at the King Abdullah Sports City and featured the best under-21 players in the world. They are also strong contenders to hold the WTA Finals later this year. 

However, critics have accused the country of using sport to improve their image which has been affected by wrongdoing. A term which is better known as sportswashing. Saudi Arabia has been under fire over their human rights records, particularly concerning women and LGBT people. However, they argue that action has been taken to improve their human rights record. 

Recently tennis greats Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert co-wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post urging the WTA to not stage their premier event in the country due to concerns over human rights. Prompting criticism from Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, who is the Saudi Arabian ambassador to America. Princess Reema’s two-page statement focused solely on women’s rights and failed to address the concerns raised over LGBT people in her country.

There is yet to be any response from the ATP regarding the King Six Slam clashing with their events. 

ATP

Roland Garros 2024: Rafael Nadal Faces Alexander Zverev In Blockbuster Opening Round

Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev will meet at Roland Garros in the first round with Andy Murray taking on Stan Wawrinka in the opening round.

Published

on

(@UniversTennis - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal has been drawn against Rome champion Alexander Zverev in the opening round of Roland Garros.

The 14-time Roland Garros champion will most likely be making his last appearance at the event where he has such a great history at.

It’s been a mixed clay court season for Nadal who built gradual momentum in Madrid but suffered an early exit in Rome to Hubert Hurkacz.

Now the Spaniard has been drawn to take on the champion of Rome, Alexander Zverev, in the opening round.

The match is a repeat of the 2022 semi-final where Zverev broke his ankle losing almost a year of his career.

This contest headlines the second quarter of the draw which also features Karen Khachanov, Holger Rune and Daniil Medvedev.

In the other quarter of the top half of the draw, defending champion Novak Djokovic will begin his Roland Garros campaign against Pierre-Hughes Herbert.

There is also a potential third round clash with either Gael Monfils or Lorenzo Musetti for Djokovic, who is currently in Geneva gaining extra match practice ahead of the second Grand Slam of the season.

The Serb could have a repeat of last year’s final in the quarter-finals with Casper Ruud as the Norwegian begins his campaign against Jakub Mensik.

In the bottom half of the draw Jannik Sinner plays his first tournament since suffering a hip injury in Rome as he takes on Christopher Eubanks in the opening round.

Sinner could face Cameron Norrie in the third round with the Brit taking on Pavel Kotov in his opening round before playing the winner of the battle of the Grand Slam champions between Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka.

Murray and Wawrinka will clash for the fourth time at Roland Garros with Wawrinka leading their head-to-head 2-1 in Paris.

This section also includes in-form players such as Hubert Hurkacz, Alejandro Tabilo and Rome finalist Nicolas Jarry.

Finally Carlos Alcaraz will begin his Roland Garros campaign against a qualifier before potentially playing Jack Draper in the second round.

Another exciting clash awaits Alcaraz in the third round in the form of Sebastian Korda with Andrey Rublev or Stefanos Tsitsipas being potential quarter-final opponents.

This is the full draw with Roland Garros beginning on Sunday.

Continue Reading

ATP

Alexander Zverev Secures Return To Top Four After Winning Italian Open

Published

on

Alexander Zverev has clinched his first Masters title since 2021 after downing Nicolas Jarry in straight sets at the Italian Open.

The world No.5 surged to a 6-4,7-5, victory at the Faro Italico to become the 10th player in the Open Era to win the Rome trophy on multiple occasions. He also won the tournament in 2017. Zverev’s latest win was aided by an impressive service display from the 27-year-old who also hit 15 winners against eight unforced errors. He is now 22-1 against players ranked outside the top five at the tournament with his only loss being to Matteo Berrettini five years ago.

“It means a lot. Winning my first (Masters) title and winning my first after my injury in Rome. Rome is a very special place for me,” the new champion said afterwards. 
“I said at the beginning of the week if Rome is the place of firsts for me I’m extremely happy about it. It’s a very special week.” 

Playing in his first Masters 1000 final since 2022, Zverev produced a serving masterclass throughout the opening set with the German winning 20 out of 21 points. In contrast, Jarry experienced more difficult but valiantly fought back with the Chilean saving two straight break points at 4-4. Eventually, the third seed sealed the opener two games later with the help of some costly shots coming from across the court. A deep shot towards the baseline was unsuccessfully returned by Jarry, handing Zverev a set point which he converted.

Continuing to pile the pressure on in the second set, Zverev had a double chance to break for a 3-1 lead but failed to capitalise on that opportunity. The opportunities continued to come and go. Back-to-back double faults from Jarry at 4-5 handed Zverev two championship points but once again he failed to take advantage. Eventually, he sealed victory two games later with the help of a forehand shot that Jarry returned out. Prompting Zverev to raise his hands in delight before later paying tribute to his rival. 

“He’s playing huge. You can see that by the opponents he beat and how he beat them,” he said of Jarry. 
“I told him if he continues playing like that he is going to have many more chances. I’m happy to be the winner.”

As a result of his Rome triumph, Zverev has secured a top-four seeding for the French Open. On Monday he will rise in the PIF ATP rankings to No.4 which will be his highest position since August 2022. During that same year, he sustained a serious ankle injury which sidelined him for months. 

“The focus is on Paris, that’s for sure. but let me enjoy this one for a day or so and then I will have my full focus on Paris,” said Zverev.

Zverev has now won six Masters 1000 titles which places him in joint-ninth on the all-time list along with Daniil Medvedev. 

Continue Reading

ATP

Novak Djokovic Accepts Geneva Wildcard Ahead Of Roland Garros

Novak Djokovic has accepted a wildcard into next week’s ATP 250 event in Geneva as he looks to improve his form ahead of Roland Garros.

Published

on

(@TheTennisLetter - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic has shockingly accepted a wildcard into next week’s ATP 250 event in Geneva.

The world number one hasn’t had the best season so far having yet to reach a final at any of his events this season.

There was hope for Djokovic that his fortunes would change on clay and the Serb started his clay court season by reaching the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo before losing to Casper Ruud.

However Djokovic’s clay court hopes were dashed in Rome as he lost in the third round to in-form Chilean Alejandro Tabilo.

This has meant that Djokovic risks being undercooked for the second Grand Slam of the season at Roland Garros.

Therefore the Serb has had no option but to take a wildcard into next week’s ATP 250 in Geneva.

Djokovic will join Casper Ruud, Andy Murray, Denis Shapovalov and Taylor Fritz in next week’s event.

Next week’s appearance will be the first appearance in Geneva in Djokovic who will be the top seed in Switzerland.

Continue Reading

Trending