Rafa Roundup: Will Nadal and Djokovic cancel their exhibition match in Saudi Arabia?

EFE/Juan Carlos Hidalgo


The Barcelona defender, who spearheads the company behind the new format of the Davis Cup, said Wednesday that Nadal has told him he will play as long as he is not injured.

”If the No. 1 in the world is playing, that’s more than enough,” Pique said in the official presentation of Madrid as host of the Davis Cup finals for the next two years. ”Rafa is very positive about this event, especially because it is taking place in Madrid.”

While Rafael Nadal has been recuperating – and helping with the flood-relief effort – in Mallorca, Djokovic has settled back into that familiar metronomic rhythm of clinically dismantling opponents and hoovering up titles.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, men of conscience and integrity, continue to risk their good name by accepting an invitation to play in a meaningless exhibition in Saudi Arabia, a regime under critical scrutiny for the disappearance of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The kidnap-and-murder story has led news bulletins around the world – alongside Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the conflict that has contributed to the famine engulfing Yemen – yet efforts this week by the Guardian to elicit a response from either player over playing in Jeddah on 22 December have proved fruitless.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, two incredibly popular athletes who don’t need to consult with teammates or colleagues in order to make a decision about their participation, are in the ideal position to pull out of the match and make a statement about how the world should view Saudi Arabia’s pattern of state-sanctioned killing. The question is if they mind being shiny baubles, dangled in front of the country to distract from a murderous regime, or not.

The world No 1 was the first player to mathematically secure his space in London with victory over Marin Cilic in the Rogers Cup quarter-finals on August 11.

“I know how important Majorca is to Rafa and I have been in touch with him to see if I can help with anything,” Federer said in a video message recorded in Shanghai where he is currently competing.

“I have seen him helping in the village where he comes from and to see that is super-inspiring. Rafa, you have our support. We are thinking of all the people in Majorca. We wish you strength in these difficult times and I hope to be back on Majorca soon.”


  1. Need a good dose of Rafa Magic to get me back to my normal fit self again. I am a fit 83, but have my ups n downs n more downs since your injury n absence from Tennis Rafa. Get fit my boy Rafa n come back with a vengeance. Go Rafa Go. I pray for you. God Bless You. Your Aussie Abuela Nan Shirley. 🐂🏆👑💥💥

  2. An additional technological innovation by the ATP:

    26 October 2018


    LONDON — For the first time in men’s professional tennis, Video Review will be used by officials at the Next Gen ATP Finals, the ATP’s ground-breaking season-ending event for the world’s best 21-and-under players, set to take place in Milan, Italy, from 6-10 November.

    The Video Review, delivered using advanced Hawk-Eye technology, will provide opportunities for players to challenge any judgement calls from the Chair Umpire such as Not-Ups, Foul Shots, Touches, or Invasion*. The incorporation of Video Review in Milan represents the latest innovation by the ATP at its bold and ambitious season-ending event for the best 21-and-under players in men’s professional tennis.

    Chris Kermode, ATP Executive Chairman & President, said: “Innovation is at the heart of everything we do at the Next Gen ATP Finals, and we’re looking towards the future in all aspects of this tournament. Adding Video Review will give players a new tool that will further enhance the officiating in our sport. The Next Gen ATP Finals continue to position the ATP at the forefront of innovation in tennis as we also look to deliver on our mission to provide a global stage for the future stars of the ATP World Tour.”

    Gayle David Bradshaw, Executive Vice President, ATP Rules & Competition, said: “Controversy with these types of decisions are rare but when they do occur they can be particularly unsettling for players. We do not expect a lot of challenges, but should any instances arise, this technology will ensure the correct decision is reached.”

    The Hawk-Eye technology behind the Video Review will use video feeds from all television cameras so that the Video Review operator can quickly search footage to find the correct angle for the decision to be made. The relevant footage will be sent to the Chair Umpire’s tablet who will review the video and decide whether to uphold or overturn the original call. All relevant footage will be played out to the in-house spectators on large video boards in real time, as well as on broadcast, to take the audience even closer to the action. There will be no limit to the number of Video Review challenges a player is able to make.

    Future use of Video Review could include decisions on whether to award the point or replay the point in the case of a corrected out to good call by an official. In Milan, however, such instances will not arise as all calls made by Hawk-Eye Live are final.

    Peter Irwin, Hawk-Eye Innovations Solutions Director, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the ATP on this ground-breaking introduction of Video Review into professional tennis. Having had years of experience providing our SMART Replay technology for officiating purposes in many other sports, we firmly believe it can bring huge benefits to tennis. Tennis fans are used to Hawk-Eye’s ball tracking technology being used to decide if a ball is in or out, but Video Review will work alongside this to assist officials make the correct decision on other judgement calls. With Hawk-Eye Live again being used in Milan to call the lines live, the use of Video Review to help adjudicate on all other decisions means the players at this year’s Next Gen ATP Finals will get the highest level of officiating they’ve ever had.”

    The 2018 tournament will continue with many of the innovations trialed at the inaugural event, with the addition of the Video Review, a further reduced warm-up (4 minutes), as well as the incorporation a towel rack at the back of the court which will remove the onus on all ball kids to handle players’ towels.

    Notes to Editors:

    *Examples of incidents that would be subject to Video Review at the Next Gen ATP Finals are:

    • Not-Ups – double bounces
    • Foul Shots – for example, deliberate double hits or carry; or hitting the ball before it has passed the net; the ball, prior to bouncing, hits a permanent fixture; or the racquet is not in the player’s hand when touched by the ball.
    • Touches – ball skimming racquet, clothing or body; or if a player, or anything he is wearing or carrying, touches the net, net posts/singles sticks while the ball is still in play.
    • Invasion – player, or anything he is wearing or carrying, touches the opponent’s side of the court while the ball is in play.

    [Source: Next Gen ATP Finals,Copyright © 2018 ATP Tour Inc, All rights reserved]

    • I’m not sure how to feel about this. I hope he’s 100% ready. Anyhow I need my tennis fix since Osaka HAS been bounced from the female WTF.

      • Rafa shouldn’t force it. I don’t want to see a repeat of the end of last year where he limped away from the WTF and, as a result, he paid the price at the AO.

    • Confirmed by a few other sources now. I don’t think I’ll be content until Rafa actually plays, I’m worried he’ll turn up to help the tournament sell tickets and then withdraw. I hope everything goes well for him. The draw is at 7.30pm (local time) – hopefully Rafa gets a good one!

  3. While we’re waiting for news… did everyone love the MAPFRE ad that Rafa tweeted today? The full version is on the Rafa Nadal – King of Tennis YouTube channel, if you haven’t seen it, and it’s well worth a watch 😊

  4. Rafa’s Cancun, Mexico tennis center is due to open on November 1. It will have eight clay courts; five outdoor and three indoor.
    [Source: diarioMallorca]

    I think this is a very smart move. It may either expand the number of clay-court tournaments or Rafa’s center may end up with a monopoly, it being the only clay-court venue left. I have read that the few existing clay-court tournaments may transition to hard court.

    Good luck to Rafa whatever the case may be.

  5. According to ElEspañol, Rafa has started training. Team Rafa is still undecided about Paris and London. Accordingly, the decision when and where to return to competition won’t be made until the last minute. It is also possible that he won’t return until 2019.

    Get your health back Rafa. Be well.

    • Great, thanks for the update Margo. I can dream of Rafa coming back next year winning the AO to start his greatest season ever.

      • You’re welcome Mac.

        Yes, I agree that would be just sooo sweet.

        From what I understand of the article, Rafa’s participation in London weighs heavily on him. Missing Bercy would be a much easier pill to swallow should he miss it.

        BUT, as you know, there are more important factors to consider. First, his recovery takes precedence over everything and, as such, he is being “super” conservative about training and returning. We know he can return after injury without much preparation and still do well but his team may want to take extra time before he comes back.

        Then, there is l’affair MbS. Rafa’s government has voiced condemnation over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

        I am sure he is missing the courts as much as his fans are missing him but he is faced with making excruciating decisions that will an effect both on his health and his reputation as a global athlete.

  6. Yesterday, October 19, was the second anniversary of the RafaNadalAcademy by Movistar. Congratulations to Rafa and his dad on another year of their highly rated academy.

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