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Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal showdown in Saudi Arabia called off

• World’s top two were due to meet in Jeddah on 22 December
• Match attracted controversy after Jamal Khashoggi’s murder

The doomed December exhibition match in Saudi Arabia next month between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal has been called off. The Spaniard, recuperating from minor ankle surgery, had already withdrawn, while Djokovic confirmed on Friday before the ATP World Tour Finals in London next week: “It’s not happening.”

Tennis will be relieved to avoid the embarrassment of lending its name to an event in a country embroiled in the murder of the dissident Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, at their consulate in Istanbul five weeks ago. Asked if it was Nadal’s injury that forced the cancellation of the controversial $2million match, Djokovic said bluntly, “Yes”.

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