(Bloomberg) -- An entity set up by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has emerged as the preferred bidder to host a new professional men’s tennis tournament, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The entity — SURJ Sports Investment — and the ATP Tour have not yet decided on a venue nor have they agreed to commercial terms, the person said, requesting anonymity to discuss confidential information. But if a deal is reached, SURJ would be granted a license for an ATP Masters 1000 event, the person said.

The two sides haven’t agreed on when to schedule the new event, but the months of January and February are being discussed, according to the person familiar with the matter. The deliberations are ongoing and there’s no certainty they will lead to a deal. 

A representative for SURJ declined to comment, while spokesmen for the ATP Tour did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

A new men’s event would underscore a broader push by the Middle Eastern country into tennis. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has signed deals to sponsor both the ATP and WTA’s official rankings and the kingdom’s capital, Riyadh, will host the women’s tour’s season-ending finals for three years starting in 2024. 

In 2023, the kingdom began a five-year stint as host of an event known as the Next Gen ATP Finals, in which the best 21-and-under players compete for a season-ending title in Jeddah, a port city in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Sports Push

Currently, there are nine ATP Masters 1000 events a year at cities including Paris, Monte Carlo and Rome. Champions can earn 1000 ranking points, which is the highest amount available at tournaments outside the four Grand Slams. 

Saudi Arabia has separately expressed interest in taking over the Masters 1000 events in Miami and Madrid that are owned by Endeavor Group Holdings Inc.’s IMG, a person with knowledge of the matter said. The Athletic previously reported on the country’s interest in the IMG events. 

An Endeavor representative declined to comment. 

Tennis Magazine Italia reported in April that Saudi Arabia would host a new ATP Masters 1000 event in January beginning in 2027. At the time, the ATP said “no decisions have been made and any updates will be communicated at the appropriate time.”

PIF established SURJ last year with the aim “to accelerate the growth of the sports sector in Saudi Arabia and Middle East and North Africa.” Its first investment was in the Professional Fighters League, which months later struck a deal to buy rival Bellator MMA in a bid to take on the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

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--With assistance from Lucas Shaw.

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