ATP Tour

All set for Federer-Nadal blockbuster in Cape Town

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer (Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer (Getty Images)

Cape Town - In spite of what some might see as a spate of recent disturbing frolics, the organisers of the tennis exhibition between icons Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the Cape Town Stadium on February 7 are confident the eagerly-awaited charity game will be unaffected.

Still, it needs to be noted that 20-times major champion Federer recently withdrew from the inaugural ATP World Team Cup tournament that will be staged in Australia in January, citing a need not to overextend himself prior to the Australian Open Grand Slam extravaganza that follows immediately afterwards.

Then, the past weekend's game between the 38-year-old Federer and German Alexander Zverev, which was part of a multi-million dollar exhibition circuit in South America during the off-season, was abandoned because of disturbances in Bogota after tens of thousands of tickets had already been sold in the Colombian capital - with the organisers asserting they would not refund the massive takings because they were not responsible for the cancellation.

And while Federer's agents said everything would be done to stage the abandoned exhibition at some stage in the future, ticket holders were reported to be only little less than furious.

However the Roger Federer Foundation, which pieced together the Cape Town exhibition, has pointed out the various differences to the Bogota debacle, principally that the game in South Africa is in aid of charity and will finance education activities in under-privileged African countries.

South Africa is also close to Swiss Federer's heart - it will be the first time he will be playing in the country where his mother was born - and therefore little or no chance of the February game being called off.

The organisers also confirmed that when tickets for the Cape Town Stadium game had gone on sale at Computicket outlets, all available seats priced from R150 to R1 850 at the refurbished soccer venue had been sold in 10 minutes - with many of those failing to gain admission questioning whether 48 000 tickets could be sold in 10 minutes.

Also, those now in possession of entry, will doubtless be holding thumbs that the veteran Federer and 33-year-old Nadal emerge from the gruelling Australian Open without injuries or other disabilities.

Nadal recently replaced Novak Djokovic as the world's top-ranked player and could arrive in South Africa as the No 1 player, although this is not certain and will depend on what happens in the ATP World Team Cup and the Australian Open, with Federer still in all probability holding onto his current third position.

While 48 000 spectators are due to watch Nadal and Federer in Cape Town, as an exhibition match it would not be recognised as a world record, with that honour remaining the often sold-out 24 000-capacity Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows.

Incidentally, also, 42 000 were present at another recent exhibition game in Argentina when Federer edged out Zverev.

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