Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal’s controversial exhibition match in Saudi Arabia next month has been called off after the Spaniard underwent ankle surgery.
Both players were heavily criticised for agreeing to the lucrative contest in light of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, with the exhibition announced less than a week after journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Talking about the event at last week’s Paris Masters, both men said they committed to it a year ago and needed more information before taking a final decision about whether to compete.
But Nadal’s ankle surgery earlier this week, which he had to remove a floating body in the joint after an abdominal injury ruled him out of the ATP Finals, means a politically-sensitive decision has been taken out of their hands.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the tournament at London’s O2 Arena, Djokovic told reporters: “It’s not happening.”
Asked if that was because of Nadal’s injury, Djokovic replied simply: “Yes.”
- Press Association