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Saudi Arabia launches tennis takeover with $1 billion take-it-or-leave-it offer

March 12th, 2024

Saudi Arabia wants to merge the men’s and women’s tours – John G Mabanglo/Shutterstock

Saudi Arabia has made its move for tennis, Telegraph Sport can reveal, with a $1 billion take-it-or-leave it offer to merge the men’s and women’s tours.

Sources say that after the Premium Tour discussions in Indian Wells on Saturday, ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi asked the Masters tournaments to stay behind once the four grand slams had left the room.

He then briefed them on an offer from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. The deal is apparently time-sensitive, with a 90-day expiration period if it is not accepted.

The biggest upside for the PIF would be a Masters 1000 tournament in the first week of the season, which was what the Saudis have wanted all along, and what Gaudenzi has been pushing for for more than a year.

However, this idea was strongly opposed by Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley, who has established the United Cup team event in the same slot of the calendar. The resulting animosity between Tiley and Gaudenzi started the slams down the road to their so-called Premium Tour model last year.

It now seems all the more significant that Gaudenzi did not attend January’s Australian Open along with all the other tennis stakeholders, but instead travelled to Riyadh to negotiate with PIF.

A small sponsorship deal was announced last month, putting PIF branding on the ATP rankings, but that was clearly only a starting point.

This news has the potential to cause further tension between the two tours and the four slams, especially as United States Tennis Association chief revenue officer Lew Sherr insisted that the ATP and WTA chairmen should be invited to Saturday’s Premium Tour meetings as a point of courtesy.

Now it emerges that Gaudenzi has his own unifying model up his sleeve, in which he would ascend to become a tennis commissioner for the two tours.

As things stand, the slams would not be part of this PIF offer.

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This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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