Misc Tennis

I’d Be Surprised if Saudis Don’t Buy Miami and Madrid

I'd Be Surprised if Saudis Don't Buy Miami and Madrid

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Tuesday, January 9, 2024
Saudi Arabia will be a major multi-surface Masters player, says former world No. 1 John McEnroe. 

Asked to assess reports of Saudi Arabia negotiating to buy Masters 1000 events, including the Miami Open and Mutua Madrid Open, McEnroe replied: “I’d be surprised if the Saudis don’t buy those tournaments, actually.”

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IMG owns both the Miami Open and Mutua Madrid Open. John McEnroe has been represented by IMG for several years.

ESPN analyst McEnroe made the comment in a Zoom call with the media to promote ESPN’s Australian Open coverage, starting in the U.S. on Saturday, January 13th at 7 p.m. Eastern time on ESPN+ and at midnight on ESPN2.

Live AO coverage across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ will include all matches from all 15 courts, with every match streaming live on ESPN+. Comprehensive coverage will culminate with the Women’s and Men’s Championships on January 27 and January 28th, respectively, at 3:30 a.m. ET on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+.

Last November, The Athletic’s Matthew Futterman reported Saudi investors have begun negotiations with IMG, which owns both Madrid and Miami, in an effort to purchase tournament rights. 

There is also the prospect of the Saudis buying a Masters 1000 event and moving the tournament to the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia has also reportedly negotiated for the rights to the WTA Finals.

McEnroe, who opposes Saudi investment in the sport because of its human rights violations, says given the millions of dollars at stake, and the fact the Saudis already created the LIV golf league in 2021, makes the Kingdom’s increased investment in tennis virtually inevitable.

“It wouldn’t shock me, let’s put it this way, because it’s the old money talks,” McEnroe told the media. “Oh no, I wouldn’t do that. Wait how much was I offered? On second thought maybe I’ll do that.

“Personally, I disagree with it completely in golf and tennis. I mean the ladies are going to play the WTA Finals there? Are you kidding me? Because they treat women so well?

“So that part, to me, is laughable. But at the same time what is also laughable is that people can criticize tennis players or golfers for doing something that virtually every business and the government do which is deal with Saudi Arabia.

“So this idea that tennis players have to set the moral standard or golfers for that…

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