(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has signed a five-year deal with the ATP Tour to sponsor the official rankings, marking another bid to increase its investment in high-profile sports. 

The ATP Rankings has been sponsored by Australian online trading firm Pepperstone since 2022, after long-time sponsor FedEx decided not to renew its contract.  

Saudi Arabia has been making a string of investments into sport, from wrestling to cricket. While most of the capital has been deployed in football and golf, the country has increasingly signaled its interest in tennis. 

“Tennis is a top five priority in terms of sport in Saudi Arabia for the longer term,” the ATP Tour’s chief executive officer Massimo Calvelli told Bloomberg. “The guys here on the ground from PIF have consistently been pushing this message.”

While attendances during Middle Eastern tournaments have yet to reach the traditional tour locations, Calvelli said the level of execution at these tournaments is “spectacular,” and the region is ultimately a newer market for the sport and will need more time to foster the atmosphere similar to the often lauded and boisterous ‘Golden Swing’ in Latin America that takes place during the same time.

Last fall, PIF bought the license to hold the Next Generation ATP Finals — which focuses on younger players — in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from 2023 to 2027. Rafael Nadal was also recently hired to be the Saudi tennis federation’s ambassador. PIF will also partner with ATP Tour events in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing and the Nitto ATP Finals, according to a statement Wednesday. 

Investors have long been attempting to break into tennis, one of the few sports that hasn’t seen an influx of capital, in part due to its fragmented organization makes it harder to strike major deals. 

After the peak of the pandemic, Calvelli said the value of tour events have skyrocketed — some by three times — and he sees more opportunity for potential investors to move into the increasingly dynamic market. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more movement at many different levels,” he said.

Last March, CVC Capital Partners invested $150 million for a 20% stake in a new vehicle that focuses on the commercial and media business of the Women’s Tennis Association. The head of the WTA has been reported to be holding talks with Saudi officials over holding the 2024 WTA finals in the country. 

“Our strategic partnership with PIF marks a major moment for tennis,” said Calvelli. “It’s a shared commitment to propel the future of the sport.”

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