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.
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.
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
Heard this sentiment from other players as well...especially given the (dramatic) drop in prize money, you have to think similar announcements will be coming at least until @rolandgarros https://t.co/0WGpDp2pNW
— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) February 26, 2021
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