NextGen Finals: (Too) little support in Jeddah
The matches of the #NextGen Finals in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, took place almost behind closed doors. Will this stop the ATP and WTA from holding larger tournaments there in the future?
last edit: Dec 02, 2023, 09:34 am
Not long ago, Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, declared that his country would continue to promote so-called “sports washing” if it increased gross domestic product by even one percent. Judging by the viewership the contestants received at this week's #NextGen Finals, don't expect a boost to Saudi GDP.
After all, on yesterday's semi-final day it was quite likely that more fans than coaches in the hall in Jeddah watched the two victories of Arthur Fils and Hamad Medjedovic. That hadn't been quite so clear in the previous days.
In recent years in Milan it hasn't been the case that fans have been fighting over any remaining tickets to see the best U21 players in the world. In addition, the two best players with Carlos Alcaraz and Holger Rune were missing from the current edition. And in Milan there was always a local hero that people liked to keep their fingers crossed for.
Will Saudi Arabia get a 1000 event?
But the atmosphere never did justice to the good performances that Fils, Medjedovic and Co. showed. Maybe Saudi Arabia is a country where interest in tennis is not particularly great. You could already see that in the exhibition fights over the last few years - and they were really star-studded.
The prospect that a tenth ATP Masters 1000 tournament or the WTA Finals (a remarkable idea given the very poorly developed women's rights) might take place in Saudi Arabia is rather poor from an atmospheric perspective. However, it can be assumed that the financial component is correct. Now the umbrella organizations have to decide what is more important to them.