Rafael Nadal will not feature in the Mexico Open this year as the tournament organisers have had to slash their budget and did not have the funds for his appearance fee.
The World No 2 is the reigning champion at the Acapulco event and has played there for three of the last four years. But with limited spectators allowed on site and expenses on making a bio-secure bubble for the players has left the tournament cash-strapped.
“The relationship with Carlos Costa (Nadal’s agent) is super good and things were very open, the reality is that there are no funds to pay,” tournament director Raul Zurutuza told Mexican publication Excelsior.
“Our budget for this year is very limited, so we decided to invest that money in bringing who we have to bring.”
The ATP 250 event in Mexico will run from March 15 to March 20.
Nadal allegedly charges anywhere between $500,000 to a $1 million in appearance fees for non-mandatory events on the ATP calendar. As these events rely mainly on ticket revenue, they are allowed to pay the top stars to compete.
Though the 20-time major champion won’t be making the trip, the Mexico Open has still attracted young stars like Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Argentine Diego Schwartzman, who entered the top-10 for the first time in his career in 2020, will also compete at the ATP event.
“We already had a signed contract with 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 prize money at the Mexico Open has been reduced by 40 per cent. The total financial commitment has come down from $2 million last year to $1.2 million in 2021.
On Thursday, Nadal had withdrawn from the Rotterdam ATP to nurse his lower back injury.