'No funds': Tournament director confirms $1 million Rafa Nadal drama

Rafa Nadal (pictured) getting frustrated during the Australian Open.
The Acapulco tournament director has admitted the competition couldn't afford Rafa Nadal's (pictured) appearance fee this year. (Getty Images)

The Acapulco tournament director has confirmed the competition didn't have the funds to pay Rafael Nadal's appearance fee with the reports sparking a fierce tennis debate over the weekend.

Nadal announced last Thursday that he had pulled out of the Rotterdam Open due to the back injury, which has troubled the 20-time grand slam this year.

WOW: Stunning Lleyton Hewitt call as Aussie young gun wins first title

WOW: Stunning twist in Naomi Osaka's 'wholesome' ball kid photo

But early reports suggested Nadal will also withdraw from Acapulco, where he is the defending champion, with speculation the competition was unable to match his appearance fee.

Now, tournament director Raul Zurutuza has confirmed the competition didn't have the money to attract the Spaniard.

“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 [Nadal],” Zurutuza told the publication Excelsior.

“Our budget for this year is super-mega limited, so we decided to invest that money in bringing who we could bring."

The tournament director confirmed they had locked in a strong field, despite Nadal's absence.

This included Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Diego Schwartzman.

“We already had a contract signed with Zverev and it was more expensive to cancel it than to pay him,” Zurutuza said.

“And the other players, the four or five that we invited with an appearance fee have put the batteries… their financial demands are substantially lower than what they normally do.”

Nadal absence sparks tennis debate

Nadal's absence sparked a debate on social media after reports the tournament couldn't afford him to appear.

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.

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.