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Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal were widely criticized for their scheduled participation in a reputation-laundering exhibition match in Saudi Arabia, amid the kingdom’s war in Yemen, the ongoing inquiry into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the usual slew of human rights abuses. The match, conducted completely outside Djokovic and Nadal’s professional obligations on the tour, was slated for December. When pressed by reporters, the players said the agreement was over a year in the making, but today Djokovic told reporters in London that he and Nadal would be skipping the event, which would have paid them a reported $1 million each:


The players found a convenient out: Rafa’s surgery to remove a floating object in his ankle. Nadal underwent the 35-minute procedure on Tuesday and will rehabilitate to get ready for the 2019 season. He missed the Paris Masters and will also miss the year-end ATP Finals in London, which are about to begin on Sunday.

It’s always nice to have an extremely easy and optically safe excuse to do the right thing.

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