Djokovic confirms controversial Saudi match is off after Nadal injury

Novak Djokovic answering questions from the press

Novak Djokovic has confirmed his controversial Saudi Arabia exhibition match against Rafael Nadal has been called off. The match was dubbed the King Salman Tennis Championship and was a product of the Sports Development Fund, a Saudi government initiative urging "an infusion of capital to build new facilities, contributions to the privatization of sports clubs, and efforts to attract and promote global sports events".

There had been calls for the match to be cancelled after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

Djokovic and Nadal have played 52 times in their careers, with the Serb leading their head-to-head 27-25.

The world numbers one and two were due to take part in a one-off exhibition contest in Jeddah on December 22.

"Nadal's recovery time contradicts the now scheduled timing of the tournament", GSA said in a statement, promising an announcement of new dates in due course and wishing Nadal a speedy recovery.

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When questioned whether that was because Nadal was injured, the new world number one said "yes". And my team is talking to them, to analyse the things.

"I have done everything possible to reach the end of the season in good condition, both in Paris and London, doing things well and I really wanted to play".

Swiss legend Roger Federer - who is expected to be Djokovic's main rival in London - revealed last month that he had rejected an invitation to play in the Saudi event, saying he "didn't want to play there at that time", adding "it was a very quick decision". "I'm aware of what's happening, and it's sad, of course".

Speaking ahead of the Nitto ATP Finals at London's O2 Arena on Friday, Djokovic simply replied "it's not happening" when asked about the match, before confirming it was due to Nadal's recent ankle surgery.

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