Nadal, Djokovic and Sinner to participate in ‘Six Kings Slam’ in Saudi Arabia during ATP season

by Stefan Jonsson

In an exciting, but also criticised, development for tennis fans around the world, Saudi Arabia is set to host a new elite tennis exhibition called the ‘Six Kings Slam’ in October, as part of the Riyadh Season cultural and entertainment festival.

This event will feature tennis legends Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, alongside other Grand Slam winners including Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner, Daniil Medvedev, and Holger Rune. With Jannik Sinner coming off a recent win at the Australian Open, Holger Rune is noted as the only player among the six without a Grand Slam title to his name.

Rafael Nadal, who has recently signed up as an ambassador for the Saudi Arabian Tennis Federation, expressed his excitement about playing in Riyadh for the first time, highlighting the significance of the event not just for the players but for tennis enthusiasts globally.

“The academy represents a long-term commitment to tennis and the Kingdom. Serving as a center of learning, it aims to expedite the journey of talented individuals in tennis, providing players with an ideal environment to learn and enhance their competitive abilities,” Nadal commented.

Saudi Arabia – New Premium Destination for Sports?

This announcement underscores Saudi Arabia’s ambitious efforts to position itself as a premier destination for major sporting events, following significant investments in football, formula one and golf among other sports.

However, the ‘Six Kings Slam’ has also sparked conversations regarding its timing, as it is set to occur during a busy period in the ATP season, including mandatory Masters 1000 tournaments in Shanghai and Paris. This move is a departure from the norm, as exhibition events in the Gulf region are typically scheduled during breaks in the ATP season or after its conclusion.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia’s foray into hosting prominent tennis events, including the commitment to host the season-ending Next Gen Finals for men’s under-21 players in Jeddah from 2023 to 2027, has been met with mixed reactions.

Critics argue that the country’s investment in sports could be an attempt to divert attention from its controversial record on human rights and equality issues. This debate has been further intensified by discussions around Saudi Arabia potentially hosting the women’s WTA Finals, which has drawn objections from tennis greats like Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, leading to a broader discourse on the intersection of sports, politics, and human rights

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