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The tournament in Indian Wells will take place in cooperation with Saudi Arabia

Photo: Julian Finney / Getty Images

Saudi Arabia has doubled down on its ambitions in world sports, choosing tennis as its next target for influence.

Through its sovereign wealth fund (PIF), the kingdom is entering into a “multi-year strategic partnership” with the ATP players’ association.

In a joint statement, the two organizations announced that the cooperation should represent “a significant joint commitment to promote global tennis.”

Accordingly, the PIF will now be an official partner of the ATP rankings as well as the ATP tournaments in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing, the ATP finals at the end of the season in Turin and the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah.

ATP boss Massimo Calvelli described the new agreement as “an important moment for tennis.”

Nadal as ambassador, top stars at show tournament

Saudi Arabia had recently intensified its efforts in tennis and, among other things, hired 22-time major champion Rafael Nadal as an ambassador.

To this end, the state is hosting a top-class show tournament for the first time in October, right in the middle of the ATP season, with a total of five Grand Slam winners.

In addition to Nadal, Grand Slam record champion Novak Djokovic and Australian Open winner Jannik Sinner will also be playing at the “Six Kings Slam” in Riyadh.

While Saudi Arabia is internationally criticized for the human rights situation there, the kingdom has been hosting major sporting events for years.

It is well known that the Saudis want to host the 2034 World Cup - and probably will -; the most important boxing matches in the world are now taking place in Riyadh, and the LIV Tour is poaching numerous top players in the Gulf.

Critics accuse the country of sportswashing.