History is being made this week in Jeddah, where the first-ever ATP Tour sanctioned event on Saudi Arabian soil is taking place.
The top eight 21-and-under stars have been battling it out at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM, with fans coming from all corners of Saudi Arabia to catch a glimpse of the action at King Abdullah Sports City.
Ahmed Aljefri has travelled to London, New York and Miami in the past to watch his favourite players compete. Attending Saturday’s semi-finals with his family, the local fan is excited to watch the sport live in Saudi Arabia.
“It is a dream come true to have tennis here,” said Aljefri, who was cheering for Jordanian star Abdullah Shelbayh this week. “I have been a fan of tennis for more than 20 years, so it is great to see the ATP Tour here. It is great the Tour has a presence in Saudi Arabia and it is amazing it is in my hometown.
“Lots of people have been watching tennis here in the past 15 years, so to bring a permanent tournament here is great.”
The Next Gen ATP Finals will be held in Jeddah until 2027 after a five-year agreement was signed earlier this season.
Another fan, Ahmed Alazzni believes the sport has the potential to grow rapidly in Saudi Arabia.
“We went inside and watched the first match. It is my first time watching tennis live and it was quite amazing,” Alazzni said. “It is the first tournament here in Saudi Arabia so we are excited and it is an unbelievable experience for me.
“There are so many fans who like tennis. We know everyone and watch the sport. We love the Next Gen players. We are looking forward to more events coming in the future to this country hopefully."
Ahmed Alazzni [left] with friend Mohammed Bulushi [right]
Majdi Saber is attending the tournament with his son. He is pleased with the organisation at the tournament.
“The whole arrangement is good and we love it,” Saber said. “The event here is really well run and fans have a great experience. The sport is spreading all the time. The youngest people are trying to get used to the sport and it is getting there.”
Majdi Saber [left] with his son [right].read full article