John McEnroe shuts down Nick Kyrgios call amid Saudi tennis furore

The tennis great's Saudi swipe puts him at odds with the Australian star.

Pictured right is John McEnroe and Nick Kyrgios on the left.
John McEnroe is at odds with Nick Kyrgios after expressing his concern about Saudi investment in tennis. Pic: Getty

American legend John McEnroe has warned tennis not to follow in golf's footsteps by seeking investment from Saudi Arabia, as the sovereign kingdom's influence on world sport grows. McEnroe's stance comes after Nick Kyrgios this week welcomed Saudi interest in tennis and Australian Open chief Craig Tiley insisted it would not divide the sport.

That of course was the case with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf and the PGA Tour, until the warring factions spectacularly joined forces in a move no one saw coming. McEnroe accused the PGA Tour of being "hypocrites" after striking a deal with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) - the financial arm that is pumping billions of dollars of investment into the sport.

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"It looked to me like the PGA were total hypocrites when they cut a deal after they've been fighting them," the seven-time grand slam singles champion told ESPN. The 64-year-old McEnroe said he was not surprised by Saudi interest in a possible investment in tennis, as the country has been spending heavily in other sports, with several high-profile football stars among the latest to chase the Saudi riches.

"What about (Cristiano) Ronaldo? He's being paid a couple of hundred million a year," McEnroe added. "They have been buying players in other sports, brought boxing fights, you name it."

John McEnroe wary of Saudi investment in tennis

McEnroe says while he is "not surprised" that tennis is the latest sport being linked to the seemingly limitless Saudi dollars, it's not a path he thinks the sport should go down. "I wouldn't encourage it, the Saudi thing," he said.

"I'm not surprised that tennis is being thrown into the mix after what we saw in golf. "The people that are complaining about it, a lot of the people, are hypocrites because our government does business with things along with tons of other hedge funds, wealth funds, down the list, people that have dealings."

Australian Open chief Tiley said this week that any Saudi investment in tennis would not have the same impact as in golf, amid media reports claiming the country is bidding to host this year's ATP Next Gen finals. Tiley is confident the fact the Saudis are negotiating directly with the ATP reduces the likelihood of a polarising breakaway group like LIV Golf.

Seen here, Australian Open chief Craig Tiley.
Australian Open chief Craig Tiley is confident Saudi investment in tennis won't divide the sport like what happened in golf. Pic: Getty

"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 said. "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."

Kyrgios - who is battling to be fit for Wimbledon after suffering a knee injury in a lucrative Saudi exhibition event last December - has welcomed the sovereign kingdom's foray into tennis. "Finally," the Aussie wrote on Twitter. "They see the value. We are going to get paid what we deserve to get paid. Sign me up.

with agencies

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