Nick Kyrgios and Andy Murray could potentially be at odds amid reports the ATP is considering an offer from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) for a stake in the tour. Saudi Arabia has used the PIF to fund the LIV Golf series, as well as a number of other ventures in football and other sporting codes.
News that the ATP was considering the offer was welcomed with open arms by Kyrgios, who took to social media to declare that players would 'finally' be paid 'what we deserve'. However many athletes, notably Murray and PGA golfer Rory McIlroy, have raised major ethical concerns about the investment given Saudi Arabia's poor record on human rights.
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While the reported PGA/LIV merger has taken some of the heat out of the issue with regards to the golf world, Murray has already gone on record saying he would not accept an offer to play in Saudi Arabia - regardless of the potential windfall on offer. The news was welcomed by world No.1 Carlos Alcaraz, who said he would be happy to play in the nation.
Saudi Arabia, via the PIF, have looked to invest in tennis for some time, with other discussions having already been held with the WTA. The ATP's Next Gen finals could potentially move from Italy to Saudi Arabia this year, according to the Daily Mail.
“I wouldn’t play, no,” Murray when asked about the prospect earlier in June. “I would imagine it will only be a matter of time before we see tennis tournaments played there.”
His comments stood in stark contrast to Kyrgios' reaction to the reports the ATP had been holding discussions about the PIF acquiring a stake in the ATP. "Finally. They see the value. We are going to get paid what we deserve to get paid. Sign me up," Kyrgios wrote on Twitter.
FINALLY. THEY SEE THE VALUE. WE ARE GOING TO GET PAID WHAT WE DESERVE TO GET PAID. SIGN ME UP 💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰 https://t.co/sJpj9lK6Vg
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) June 26, 2023
Meanwhile, ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi has insisted the potential investment will not result in tennis changing its overall operations. The founding of the LIV Golf was done in part to try and liven up the sport by playing in a variety of different formats - something Gaudenzi has been keen to rule out.
“You have to preserve something which is almost sacred, the rules of the game,” Gaudenzi told the Financial Times. “This is not a video game.”
Australian Open boss monitoring Saudi investment in tennis
Australian Open chief Craig Tiley will keep a wary eye on Saudi Arabia's increased investment in tennis but is confident the sport won't be divided like golf. Australian Open chief Craig Tiley will keep a wary eye on Saudi Arabia's increased investment in tennis but is confident the sport won't be divided like golf.
"What's different to what we're seeing (in other sports) is this is an investment in the current structure of the game and not an investment in an alternative option," Tiley told reporters on Tuesday. "But like everything in the world, there's lots of changes always going on.
"So you've got to watch what's going on and stay close to it. But, ultimately, that's a decision for the men's and the women's tour."
Complicating matters is that tennis has seven different governing bodies: the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon, the US Open, the ITF, ATP and WTA. "We work closely together, constantly work closely together in the best interest of the sport," Tiley said.
"I think they can do a lot better - those seven governing bodies - about doing a lot more work together but we're on that track of at least having those conversations where a few years ago that was not taking place. So you've always got to look out for disruptions.
"The sport of tennis is in a healthy place right now because there is that conversation, probably unlike in other sports where there was not that conversation - and the four slams are very influential in the decision making. And as majors, I think that's an important position to keep hold of."
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