When you see a top tennis player participating in a 250-level tournament, you can easily conclude that they were paid an appearance fee to play. The appearance fee for Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic can be over a million dollars depending on the tournament.
Finances of tennis tournaments have been constrained for the past year due to COVID-19. The inability to have fans in stadiums and reduced sponsor interest has led tournaments to slash prize money.
This has also hampered the tournament’s ability to pay appearance fees for top players. Tournaments rarely speak about appearance fees though the practice is common around the world.
This week, the tournament director for the Acapulco event in Mexico, Raul Zurutuza, said that the tournament will not feature Rafael Nadal this year because the event can’t afford to pay Nadal’s appearance fee of $500,000 to $1 million.
Acapulco will have Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Diego Schwartzman headline the tournament. These players have taken a cut in their appearance fee, according to Zurutuza. The appearance fee for these players is also substantially lower than Nadal’s.
With a lot of tournaments being canceled, many top players have shown willingness to reduce their appearance fee. But as the Acapulco case shows, top players such as Nadal still hold considerable clout over the tournaments.