Rafael Nadal's withdrawal from two up coming tournaments has brought into question the appearance fee the Big Three players demand when appearing at smaller competitions.
Nadal announced on Thursday that he had pulled out of the Rotterdam Open due to the back injury.
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The 20-time grand slam champ has been struggling with the issue for some time after he was forced to skip Spain's ATP Cup ties in Melbourne earlier this month.
But reports suggest Nadal will also withdraw from Acapulco, where he is the defending champion, which led to reports the competition was unable to match his appearance fee.
Tennis writer Ben Rothenberg claimed Nadal's appearance fee could be anywhere in the vicinity of $US 1 million.
This opened up the debate on the Big Three's - Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic - pulling power and the money at the top of the game.
Some fans suggested it was "embarrassing" if certain players were so money motivated.
Rothenberg also suggested a lower ranked player could be concerned if prize money - due to the coronavirus pandemic - is dropping quicker than the appearance fees of top players.
Sports Illustrated reporter Jon Wertheim suggested more players could be pulling out of tournaments in the future if prize money doesn't fancy them during these difficult times.
Gotta assume Nadal's usual appearance fee is on the very high end of that range, if not higher.
I know that even Sascha Zverev, a player with 20 fewer Slams to his name than 20-time Slam champ Nadal, was getting paid ~$400,000 to play Acapulco back before the pandemic set in. https://t.co/o0TmuETZoH
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) February 26, 2021
Are people really surprised about this?
No top player goes to a 250 or 500 without a big appearance fee. Really thought Nadal, Federer and Djokovic ‘costed’ over 1M tbh but it must depend on the event https://t.co/PUEtAby92o
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) February 26, 2021
Kind of embarrassing how these players are so 💰 motivated. Nadal refusing to play tournaments unless he gets his hefty appearance fee. Now top 100 players too proud to play matches for a reduced pay. Disgraceful
— DE (@darregan) February 26, 2021
Yeah this is completely the norm. Surprised that this is news to some people. Players like Nadal, Djokovic and Federer hugely increase the marketability of smaller events and increase tickets sales etc. Makes sense that they would therefore command an appearance fee
— Peter Fletcher (@pfletch88) February 26, 2021
Some fans pointed out that the appearance of a Nadal, Djokovic or Federer at smaller 250, 500 events increase the tournaments appeal and marketability.
Therefore it is normal for a top player to be paid for an appearance.
The debate made headlines, back in 2019, when Eurosport commentators discussed Federer's fee.
They reported Federer can demand up to 1 million Euros.
Nadal takes time off for back injury
"It is with great sadness that I have to forfeit from Rotterdam," Nadal said in a statement on Thursday.
"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 (since) I played there."
Fans were left gutted by the news, wishing Nadal a speedy recovery on social media.
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