Djokovic, Nadal call off Saudi exhibition match

An exhibition match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was called off due to the Spaniard undergoing ankle surgery. The two players had expressed doubt as to whether they would play in Saudi Arabia after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi

Nadal underwent ankle surgery, ending speculation about whether controversial match would take place

Rafael Nadal, right, and Novak Djokovic, left, pulled out of a Dec. 22 exhibition match in Dubai after Nadal underwent season-ending ankle surgery. (Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic says an exhibition match against Rafael Nadal in Saudi Arabia has been called off because the Spaniard underwent ankle surgery.

The top-ranked Djokovic told BBC Sports on Friday that "the match is not happening this year" because of Nadal's injury.

Djokovic and Nadal had expressed doubt as to whether they would play the Dec. 22 match as Saudi Arabia is under growing pressure from the international community following the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi after he entered Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. He was a Washington Post columnist who had written critically of Saudi Arabia's crown prince.

The players had not withdrawn, though, saying the invitations were made at least one year ago. Roger Federer had turned down the invitation, saying he "didn't want to play there at that time."

Amnesty International had urged Nadal and Djokovic not to play.

No. 2-ranked Nadal pulled out of the season-ending ATP Finals because of an abdominal injury, then underwent surgery on his right ankle to start 2019 healthy.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.