Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from an ATP Tour event after reports his huge appearance fee has been wiped, revealing tennis’ Big Three reality.
Rafael Nadal has reportedly pulled out of the ATP Tour’s Mexico Open in Acapulco next month after his huge appearance fee was taken off the table.
The Spanish superstar and defending champion at the event announced this week he has decided to focus on recovering from a back injury and won’t travel to the ATP events in Rotterdam and Acapulco.
However, reports on Saturday (AEDT) revealed there may be more to Nadal’s decision not to compete in Mexico this year after the tournament could not afford the expense this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The decision has again opened the debate on the appearance fees justifiably demanded by tennis’ Big Three, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Nadal, and other stars at the top of the ATP rankings.
Tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg reported Saturday Nadal’s appearance fee could be more than $US1 million — which is neck and neck with the entire prize money ($US1.05 million for the men’s event and $US250,000 for the WTA event) in Mexico.
Speculation surrounding the Big Three’s appearance fees peaked in 2019 with Eurosport tennis commentators claiming Federer is able to demand 1 million euro ($1.57m per event) while Nadal and Djokovic are also able to negotiate fees of up to 800,000 euro ($1.25m) because they are critical in events selling tickets.
The report claims the Big Three’s appearance fees have not budged since the start of the pandemic, while tournaments have been forced to slash prize money.
The Mexico Open this year slashed prize money from $US1.9m for the ATP event in 2020 to the $1.05m prize money pool for the 2021, event, beginning March 15.
In 2019, Aussie Nick Kyrgios took home $US367,000 as the tournament winner.
Meanwhile, Nadal announced Friday he is still completing rehabilitation on a back injury suffered during the second week of the Australian Open.
The 20-time grand slam champion was knocked out in the quarter-finals by Stefanos Tsitsipas in Melbourne.
He left the tournament after a hilarious moment where he made a swift exit from his press conference after suffering the beginnings of a muscle cramp in the middle of the interview room.
He also said it would have been “really, really” impossible for Djokovic to have won the year’s first slam if he truly did have an abdominal muscle injury.
“It is with great sadness that I have to forfeit from Rotterdam,” Nadal posted on Twitter.
“As most of the fans know, I suffered some back problems in Australia that started in Adelaide and continued during Melbourne.
“We found a temporary solution that allowed me to play without pain in the second week of the tournament. Once I got back to Spain I visited my doctor and together with my team they’ve advised not to play this upcoming week. I was really looking forward to coming back to Rotterdam and The Netherlands since it’s been a while I played there.”