Rafael Nadal will not play in the Acapulco ATP tournament in March because of a back injury according to the world No.2 but there could be more to the story.
The world No 2, who is recovering from a lower back injury, told followers that the injury made it difficult to make such a long trip.
“I am very sorry not to participate in Acapulco 2021,” the 34-year-old Nadal, champion in Acapulco in 2005, 2013 and 2020 wrote on Twitter.
“It is a difficult year for everyone and in my current state of health, with a bad back, it is impossible to make such a long trip.
“I love Acapulco, I have played the last four years, but this year it is not possible. Hopefully in 2022!”
However, it’s emerged the tournament had been hit by financial difficulty with reduced crowds and additional costs due to the Coronavirus pandemic, virtually ending any chance for tournament organisers to bring any big names to Mexico. As a result the tournament decided to spread the money it pays in appearance fees between more players.
“We couldn’t afford Nadal. The relationship with Carlos Costa (Nadal’s agent) is super good and things were very open (but) the reality is that there are no funds to pay,” tournament director Raul Zurutuza said.
“Our budget for this year is super mega limited, so we decided to invest that money in bringing who we have to bring.”
Tournaments below the Masters 1000 level often pay the world’s leading players appearance fees.
It’s understood the top players in the world like Nadal, Djokovic and Federer demand between $500,000 to $1 million just to appear at the events. Tournament organisers usually have no problem investing this type of money because of the amount of traffic the upper echelon bring in.
The tournament director also implied that money was tight because World No. 7 Alexander Zverev had already signed a contract to play and would receive an appearance fee.
“We already had a contract signed with Alexander Zverev and it was more expensive to cancel it than to pay him,” Zurutuza added. “And the other players, the four or five that we invited with an appearance fee…their economic demands are substantially lower than what they normally do.”
The world No.2’s withdrawal will also see him miss next week’s Rotterdam event. Nadal is unlikely to play again until the season’s first Masters event in Miami from March 24.
The 20-time Grand Slam title winner, was bothered by the back injury in Melbourne where he was knocked out of the Australian Open in the quarter-finals by Stefanos Tsitsipas from two sets up.
The Spanish star could lose his number two world ranking next week to Russia’s Daniil Medvedev if the Australian Open runner-up makes the final in Rotterdam.
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