Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic cancel planned exhibition match in Saudi Arabia

A planned exhibition match between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in Saudi Arabia has been called off.

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Rafa and Nole were due to take part in a one-off exhibition contest in Jeddah on December 22. They committed to the event over a year ago and were under pressure to pull out after Amnesty International condemned the plans following the recent death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Serb told BBC Sport on Friday:

Nadal is injured, so the match is not happening this year.

Thankfully, the exhibition match is finally cancelled. And let’s be honest we all know it’s not just because of Rafa’s injury and Nole is likely to face more questions about the situation in the coming days. Anyway, it was a safe excuse to do the right thing.

Source: BBC


  1. Every year in December we take a little break from posting on RNF website. This year I needed a longer break. That’s all. I’m glad to know you’re still here. Thank you all for your loyalty. All the way with Rafa!

    • May I wish you a very Happy New Year,and thank you for your work,on Rafael Nadal Fans.My wish for 2019 is that this year will be the best yet.One thing I know is that both Rafa and Rafael Nadal Fans will give of their very best.Love you both.Vamos 🎾🇪🇸

    • Thank you for clearing up the misunderstanding, as we thought you’d gone for good. Glad to know you’re back in business 👍🏼

  2. Don’t get me wrong Jas_uk, I realise that running an (unofficial) fan site takes a lot of time, effort and money and the organisers have done a great job over the years, attracting so much interest. They aren’t obliged to continue, but communication is a two way thing and it would have been courteous just to let fans know that they can no longer run it instead of leaving them in the dark. It would have also given us the opportunity of thanking them, in advance, for their effort (and I do thank them).

    Of course, I will continue to support Rafa whenever and wherever I can, as I have throughout most of his career. As I’ve already said, I wish Rafa and his team a very successful 2019. Incidentally, does anyone know what tv channel is showing the Mubadala tennis exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi or how else it can be viewed?

    • Thanks for your diplomatic post. I was going to respond to Jas_uk’s comment but it would probably not have been diplomatic so I decided against commenting.

      I too feel that it would have been nice had the group who was running RNF’s blog told us that they were unable to continue doing so. Just common courtesy. And yes, I realize how time consuming it is. I myself, and I am sure other fans, know what it takes to run a website such as RNF. And without remuneration.

      And since I joined there were two different groups running it. The first one was strict about postings and hardly had any ads. This last group was not so strict and there were a gazillion ads when I used my mobile.

      I thought the site had been hacked and they didn’t want to inform fans. RNF Facebook did post last Friday but didn’t say anything about dissolving RNF.com.

      There is a YouTube Rafa channel. I have no idea who runs it.

      In any event, wishing Rafa’s abandoned fans a great New Year.


  3. I don’t think anyone should criticise people who run (unofficial) fan sites, It entirely voluntary and takes time, effort and money, with usually not much reward apart from seeing other fans participate.

    Whatever happens around fan sites, we need to remain positive in our thoughts about Rafa and send him all our support and every possible good wish in any way we can.

    Today he travelled to Abu Dhabi to compete in the Mubadala Tennis Champtionships, an exhibition event that will form part of his warm up for the Australian Open. The tournament begins tomorrow, but Rafa is scheduled to play his first match on Friday, against either Kevin Anderson or Hyeon Chung. Novak Djokovic could be Rafa’s opponent should both reach the final to be played on Saturday. Vamos Rafa!!

  4. I was wondering why this website wasn’t posting any news about Rafa. I agree that it’s very direspectful to just switch off all communication with fans without any warning or explanation. Why, why, why? Shocking! I’ve enjoyed the conversation with Rafa fans here, so thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts and views and i hope to meet up with you on an alternative site. Meanwhile, i wish Rafa and his team lots of sucess in 2019. Have a happy New Year folks!

    • Happy new year to you too Lorna and everyone else my fellow Rafa fans.

      It’ll be sad for RNF to turn to dust. I wonder what the issue is, but thanks for providing the platform whoever has been running it all this while.


  6. What a pity that this website is no longer actively managed. Great to hear about the new (alternative) initiative though, I am sure most of the fans who enjoyed this website in the past, will move there eventually, see you there!

    • Very strange. I went to FB and there were only a few comments by fans and one from RNFC and those were from Friday.

      Looks like FB is dedicated to news outlets?

      • Luckystar, it may be YouTube. I think Rafa has a fan channel but you have to join through Google.

        His RNF FB fan page was mostly the Spanish speaking fan base. RNF was basically the English speaking fandom.

        Now YouTube? Or somewhere else? I find it strange and disrespectful to fans that there was no post about a change of location or the dissolution of RNF.

        When RNF stopped posting I thought that it had been hacked but RNF didn’t want to inform its members. That’s what I still think. Of course, I could be wrong. But it’s something to consider.

        Have a Happy Holiday

  7. Rafa was interviewed today, December22, 2018, on CNN by Danielle Rossingh. He intends to kick off 2019 with Mubadala, Brisbane and then the AO.

  8. According to @WTA Insider, the Australian Open will no longer play advantage final sets.

    Beginning at AO2019, the final set will be decided after six games all with a ten-point tiebreak [first to 10].


  9. Rafael has given one million euros ($1.14 million) to the victims of floods in his native Mallorca, said Mateu Puigros, the mayor of the town on Thursday. “In the name of the municipality and the residents especially those affected by the flood in October, we want to thank him for the sensitivity he has shown since the beginning and after what happened here in Sant Llorenc,” Puigros said in a video.

    True words. After Rafa’s effort in the clean up operation, this is a wonderful act of kindness towards his beloved people.

  10. Rafa’s 2018 season to remember:

    36 weeks at No. 1

    33rd Masters 1000 crown

    11th titles at:
    Roland Garros
    [Source: ATP Tour]


    Here’s to Rafa for an equally or better 2019

  11. The 2019 Australian Open just may introduce a “super tiebreak” at 6-6, in which the player must win 10 points with a margin of 2.

    Approval was granted by the grand slam board and then put forth to the players to decide if it will be implemented as soon as 2019.

    [Source: Stuart Fraser of thetimes.co.uk, December 5, 2018]

  12. The Sportsmanship Award and other thoughts on the 2018 hardware

    New post on The Grandstand

    The Sportsmanship Award and other thoughts on the 2018 hardware
    by Ricky
    Before we can delve into the rapidly-approaching 2019 tennis season, we have to know where we’ve been–or just been, to be more accurate, as the 2018 campaign just ended and now we are in the midst of the shortest offseason in sports. So let’s take a look back at the ATP’s year-end awards that were handed out last month prior to the Nitto ATP Finals.

    Comeback Player of the Year: Novak Djokovic

    Also nominated: Kei Nishikori, John Millman, Jason Kubler

    It was a no-brainer that Djokovic would win this. He emerged from what had to be the nadir of his career in March to capture back-to-back Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. The only argument against him is that he really recovered from January-through-April woes as opposed to coming back from something like an entirely disastrous 2017 campaign. So this is more of a second-half-of-2018 comeback award as opposed to a full-year comeback. After all, he was ranked 12th to start the year; not that bad. Similarly, Nishikori began the season at No. 22. Millman, on the other hand, soared from 128th to 38th. Still, Djokovic did deserve it. As for Kubler, I’m sure whatever he did was commendable; but…who?

    Most Improved Player of the Year: Alex de Minaur

    Also nominated: Marco Cecchinato, Kyle Edmund, Stefanos Tsitsipas

    De Minaur probably deserved it, although he was more of a breakthrough performer as opposed to a journeyman who suddenly improved from mediocrity (like Cecchinato). The problem with Cecchinato is that he basically accrued all of his points at just one event; he didn’t sustain a whole lot of consistent success. Tsitsipas was likely the proverbial runner-up in this category, climbing 76 spots in the rankings(No. 91 to No. 15) while de Minaur soared 177 (No. 208 to No. 31). Edmund should never have been in the serious running; he was already a solid player and his second half of the season underwhelmed on the heels of a hot start (Australian Open semifinals).

    Newcomer of the Year: Alex de Minaur

    Also nominated: Hubert Hurkacz, Jaume Munar, Michael Mmoh, Ugo Humbert

    There is no discussion whatsoever to be had in this category, as no one else is in the same stratosphere as de Minaur. Hurkacz and Munar at least managed to make debut appearances in the NextGen ATP Finals.

    Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award: Rafael Nadal

    Also nominated: Roger Federer, Kevin Anderson, Juan Martin Del Potro


    What else needs to be said? Shockingly, thankfully, mercifully, Federer somehow didn’t win it. I would have been just as satisfied with Anderson or Del Potro, both of whom are fully deserving.

    Coach of the Year: Marian Vajda (Novak Djokovic)

    Also nominated: Jan de Witt (Nikoloz Basilashvili), Carlos Moya (Rafael Nadal), Sebastian Prieto (Juan Martin Del Potro), Simone Vagnozzi (Marco Cecchinato)

    Djokovic getting back with Vajda was the best decision he ever made. No other partnership was in the same ballpark in 2018, and only Rafael Nadal-Toni Nadal is a more productive one all-time in tennis’ current era (Roger Federer-Severen Luthi doesn’t count since Luthi has rarely been a full-time coach).

    Masters 1000 Tournament of the Year: Indian Wells

    It is simply the best!

    500 Tournament of the Year: Queen’s Club

    Having never been, I can’t say for sure. But I at least got a private tour of the club during this year’s Nitto ATP Finals and it is a really neat place (also, real tennis is a phenomenon!).

    250 Tournament of the Year: Stockholm

    Ernests Gulbis somehow got to the final. Isn’t that enough?

    [SOURCE: TheGrandstand, Ricky | December 18, 2018 at 2:47 PM

    • Ricky got it wrong at The Grandstand, it’s Tsitsipas who’s the Most Improved Player of the Year, not De Minaur! Better to check the ATP website!

      • Sorry for the late thank you for catching that error. My fault too for not correcting it before posting.

  13. Looking past 2018.

    Darren Cahill is pushing for a change of surface at the Nitto ATP Finals. He feels it’s not fair to have the tournament played on hard court only; a clay court would make the tournament fairer. I agree.

    Many have argued that repeatedly hosting the ATP Finals on one surface is unfair to some players. Rafael Nadal – a record 11-time French Open champion and considered by many the greatest clay-courter ever – has never won an ATP Finals title.

    Barcelona organizers have announced that Rafa is the first to confirm for 2019, after David Ferrer who will play his last tournament there.

    The New Adonis, as the French refer to Stefanos Tsitsipas, ended 2017 ranked 91, and 2018 as world No. 15. He claimed his first ATP title at Stockholm, he also won the Next Gen Masters title, and is the youngest to have defeated 4 top-ten players at a Masters level.

    Juan Martin delPotro announced that he is practicing at full strength after recovery from his kneecap injury.

    [Sources: TennisWorldUSA.; Twitter;


    14 December 2018


    LONDON — The ATP, governing body of men’s professional tennis, has announced the final shortlist of candidates bidding to host the ATP Finals. The cities of Manchester, England, Singapore, Tokyo, Japan, and Turin, Italy, have been selected by the ATP to progress and will now be assessed alongside London in the final phase of the bidding process to host the ATP Tour’s crown jewel event from 2021 to 2025.

    The announcement of the final shortlist follows an extensive bid application process that began in August 2018 in which more than 40 cities worldwide expressed an interest in hosting the prestigious season-ending event. The final phase of the process will see the ATP visit the candidate cities to further review their respective visions for the ATP Finals, with a decision on the successful candidate to be made not before March 2019.

    N.B. The above is an excerpt only.

  15. I really enjoyed watching Rafa & Roger playing doubles in the Laver Cup last year, so i’m delighted that they’ll be repeating this partnership in 2019.

  16. Laver Cup has announced that Rafa will team up with Roger for its 2019 edition. I wonder what the implications are for this. Davis Cup? Year-end ATP tournaments? Hhmmmmm

  17. For 2019, I hope certain fans have realized by now that we don’t raise Rafa by denigrating his opponents. If you’re going to fling ACCUSATIONS, please back them up with FACTS.

    What this site has taught me is to double check my sources. All too often a Spanish language article conflicts with an English language version and/or even a French one.
    And that’s why I endeavor to supply all sources. I welcome comments, constructive criticism, and yes, even corrections.

    Wishing all Rafa fans and RNF management a great New Year and an exciting 2019 following the greatest competitor there ever was in the history of tennis [my personal opinion].



    New post on The Grandstand

    Nadal returns to practice, set for Abu Dhabi later this month
    by Ricky

    Rafael Nadal is back at practice and apparently good to go for the lucrative Abu Dhabi exhibition late in December followed by a January schedule that includes the Brisbane International and the Australian Open.

    For the first time this offseason, Nadal posted a photo of himself practicing.

    👇🏻💪🏻 entrenamiento, practice! pic.twitter.com/z0nQNQvWnv

    — Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) December 10, 2018

    The second-ranked Spaniard has been sidelined since retiring from his U.S. Open semifinal match against Juan Martin Del Potro. He missed the entire fall swing, including Masters 1000 events in Shanghai and Paris plus the Nitto ATP Finals due to various injuries–ankle, abdominal, and hip.

    “Rafael took the decision to correct a problem he was having in training and the federation doctor recommended he do so,” Toni Nadal noted. “When I spoke to him his intention was to start training again around 4th or 5th December, and he will have more than a month to arrive in good conditions for the Australian Open.”

    With Nadal healthy, Novak Djokovic in borderline dominant form, and Roger Federer reigning as the two-time defending champion, the Australian Open figures to be especially intriguing in 2019.

    “I’ve been in touch with Rafa and he’s back to full fitness after cutting his season short after Paris and can’t wait to arrive in Australia,” tournament director Craig Tiley said in a press release. “And there are so many contenders who have the game, fitness and ability to break through on the men’s side. Kei Nishikori has had an incredible year, as have Marin Cilic and Kevin Anderson. The young guns [Alexander] Zverev, Dominic Thiem, David Goffin, and Stefanos Tsitsipas are all on the cusp of a breakthrough at this level.”

    Before those festivities get underway, Nadal is set for the Abu Dhabi tournament along with Djokovic, Kevin Anderson, Dominic Thiem, Karen Khachanov, and Hyeon Chung. It takes place Dec. 27-29.

    Ricky | December 11, 2018 at 4:53 AM |

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