The ATP 500 event in Rotterdam next week has been hit by player withdrawals, including top seed Rafael Nadal, who is also not playing Acapulco.
The recent withdrawals from Rotterdam also include Matteo Berrettini, Denis Shapovalov, Milos Raonic, Taylor Fritz, Gael Monfils and Daniel Evans.
Nadal, who experienced a back problem before the Australian Open, withdrew saying, "Once I got back to Spain I visited my doctor and together with my team they’ve advised not to play this upcoming week."
It is with great sadness that I have to forfeit from Rotterdam. As most of the fans know, I suffered some back problems in Australia that started in Adelaide and continued during Melbourne. We found a temporary solution that allowed me to play without pain in the second week ????????— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) February 25, 2021
Nadal also announced he would not be playing the following week at the ATP 500 event in Acapulco, where he has regularly competed in recent years, saying in Spanish, "In my current state of health, with a back injury, it is impossible to have such a long trip."
It followed the tournament's acknowledgement that it could not offer Nadal the usual amount for playing the event because of limited crowds and the extra costs of a player bubble during the coronavirus pandemic. Top players are allowed to receive appearance fees at smaller ATP events, which can reach $1 million or higher for the biggest names.
"There are no funds with which to pay," Raul Zurutuza, the tournament director of the event, told Exelsior. "Our budget is extremely limited, we decided to invest the money in bringing who we had to bring."
That has also affected others playing the event.
"We had a confirmed agreement with [Alexander] Zverev and it would cost us more to cancel than pay," he said. "The other four or five that we invite with an appearance fee... their economic demands are substantially less than normally."
Acapulco has also dropped its prize money from $2 million to $1.2 million, in line with an ATP arrangement that allows events to reduce prize money by 60-50% when crowds are reduced to half or less.
The Miami Open has also dropped its purse, which prompted John Isner to criticize the ATP, saying the "60% cut and 80% champions cut in one of our biggest events... isn’t a partnership at all."
ATP is a broken system. Players and tournaments as ‘partners’ need to work together, but 60% cut and 80% champions cut in one of our biggest events that has TV, Data, sponsorship, and newly approved gambling revenue intact, isn’t a partnership at all. 1/5 https://t.co/MmrZjCtpOW— John Isner (@JohnIsner) February 24, 2021
Players in addition have experienced widely varying restrictions and tournament scheduling changes during the pandemic. Gilles Simon, who played the Australian Open, announced that with his "heart not it it in terms of traveling and playing in these conditions, I unfortunately have to take a break."
He added that it was for preserving himself "mentally," and he hoped his "morale picks up as soon as possible."
The ATP, which has adjusted its ranking system to allow players to count points from two previous seasons, is considering moving back to regular rankings next month. That would affect players who do not play events more than the current adjusted ranking system.
During the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev also called on the ATP to have events at one location rather than played in different nations. Nadal opposed such changes.