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Saudi Arabia to stage first international tennis tournament

Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland returns a shot during his men's singles quarterfinal match against Daniil Medvedev of Russia on day nine of the 2019 US Open (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia will host its first-ever international tennis tournament later this year in what has been described as a “watershed moment” for the country by Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi General Sports Authority (GSA).

The Diriyah Tennis Cup will feature a prize fund of $3m (€2.7m). The tournament will be played on a hard-court surface at the 15,000-seat Diriyah Arena on the outskirts of Riyadh, with Stanislas Wawrinka (pictured), Daniil Medvedev, Fabio Fognini and David Goffin having been confirmed to compete.

The tournament, which will run from December 12-14, will not form part of the ATP Tour and therefore will not provide ranking points for players. Four more players will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Diriyah Tennis Cup will form part of Saudi Arabia’s Ad Diriyah Season, which also includes a Formula E race, the heavyweight boxing match between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr. and the Diriyah Equestrian Festival.

“Hosting world-class international tennis in Saudi Arabia for the very first time is another watershed moment for the Kingdom,” Prince Abdulaziz said, according to the Arab News website. “There’s a deep passion for sport in Saudi Arabia and the Diriyah Tennis Cup will see us reaching new tennis fans, welcome even more international visitors as well as creating amazing memories for all.”

The announcement comes amid continued scrutiny over rights-holders awarding events to Saudi Arabia, where pirate broadcasting service beoutQ is based. Yousef Al-Obaidly, chief executive of Qatar-based beIN Media Group, which has been hit hardest by the emergence of beoutQ, yesterday (Tuesday) called out rights-holders for hosting events in the country.

Read this: Football bodies pile pressure on Arabsat in battle to force beoutQ off the air

Al-Obaidly said: “The CEOs of Serie A and the Spanish FA (RFEF) continue to see no issue with hosting their flagship Super Cup games in the very country that has been stealing the commercial rights of all their broadcast partners for over two year, destroying the value of the Italian and Spanish game in the process.

“Amazingly, the Spanish FA is also completely undermining the great work that LaLiga has done. In response to piracy generally putting beoutQ aside, the industry is paying lip service to the problem at best.”

Read this: Legal action against beoutQ by Fifa and other major sports rights-holders ‘imminent’