My commitment is to promote tennis: Nadal on ties with Saudi Arabia

Rafa Nadal
Rafael Nadal has won 22 Grand Slam singles titles. File photo: USA-Today Sports/Jayne Kamin-Oncea via Reuters

Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal spoke about his ties with Saudi Arabia after being appointed ambassador of the country's Tennis Federation last month.

"They pay me, yes, do I need the money? Not at all, it will not change my life. I have not signed a super contract, like other fellow athletes who are there and I totally respect them," the former world No. 1 said in an interview with Spanish broadcaster La Sexta on Wednesday.

Nadal reached an agreement with the Middle East country for a long-term commitment to help grow the sport and inspire a new generation of tennis players and he plans to create a Rafa Nadal Academy in the country.

"My commitment is to promote tennis and try to achieve my goals. I don't think Arabia needs me to wash its image. It is not my objective. People tend to give their opinions without asking questions," Nadal said.

"It goes without saying that when I accepted, I knew what would happen. I think my team made a mistake in communication and that I should have come out to explain it," he added.

Saudi Arabia has invested billions in global sport, including football, cycling, motor racing and golf, drawing heavy criticism from people who call it an attempt to distract attention from the country's human rights violations.

Nadal hopes to compete at this year's French Open and the Olympics.

The 37-year-old has won 22 Grand Slam singles titles, including a record 14 French Open crowns.

"I don't know which events I have left to play but between you and me, it's not going to be many," Nadal said.

"(Roland Garros) will be one of my goals", he added when asked whether he would play in his favourite Grand Slam tournament in May.

"I'd like to play at the Olympics as well. It's not something I can confirm right now, but I hope I will... I think I will."

Nadal, sidelined by injury for most of 2023, pulled out of next week's Qatar Open on Wednesday, postponing his return to competitive tennis as he has not recovered from a torn muscle he suffered in Brisbane last month.

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