Rafael Nadal has thrown his support behind the ATP’s new prize money rules and revealed a wonderful act of generosity that adds further weight to his standing as one of the classiest players on tour.
The world No.1 reached the third round of the French Open on Thursday to set up a clash with French No.27 seed Richard Gasquet.
But while the Spaniard rolls on in his bid for an 11th title in Paris, lucky losers have been the talk of the tournament.
Eight players were handed reprieves into the men’s main draw when others withdrew due to injury – an Open Era record.
The situation occurred because of a new rule that sees injured players keep 50 per cent of their prize if they withdraw before their first-round match.
The lucky loser – a player who lost in qualifying but stayed on site and signed in – pockets the remaining 50 per cent plus all future winnings if they manage to progress.
“I think it is a good rule, because there is a lot of money in the slams,” Nadal said at Roland Garros.
“For a lot of players to be inside a grand slam tournament is a big help for surviving (the tour). So I believe it’s fair.
“The tournament wins because there are no bad players or sick players playing, and for (an injured player), he deserves (some prize), because he did the right things to be there and he deserve that prize money, so they still get it.”
Despite his belief that players are due some of the money even if they withdraw, the 16-time major winner went on to reveal he recently turned down his share.
Nadal suffered a hip injury in the Australian Open in January and aborted a comeback attempt at the Mexican Open in late February.
He had been training at the Acapulco facility but, after the draw had been made, decided he was not ready to return.
“At the end of the day, it’s your decision. Even when you’ve retired, you can take the prize money or you cannot,” Nadal said.
“That’s the position I was in Acapulco. I retired, I was inside the draw and they asked me if I wanted the prize money.
“And I say no, because I believe it was fair enough that I don’t need that prize money so the player who was in has to win that prize money. He deserved it, he was in, no?
“But is good that you have the decision, because then if you go inside (to play your match) and you retire, it’s not nice for nobody.”
It’s a small gesture from a man who has already earned $3.5 million this year, but it was one no doubt appreciated by the player to benefit – Japan’s Taro Daniel.
The 25-year-old was defeated by Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez in three sets.
Nadal’s generosity, however, meant he went home with $12,170 as opposed to $6085.