While Nadal has taken part and won the Mexican Open a few times in his career, Federer has never set foot there. The Swiss star has historically preferred the Dubai Open, which coincides with the event in Acapulco.
Roger Federer’s brand value and global fan-base make him a star attraction at every tournament, and thus at the top of the wishlist of every tournament director. He is closely followed by Rafael Nadal, who has his own legion of loyal supporters.
Zurutuza thinks along those same lines, as he revealed during a recent interview. According to the Mexican Open TD, having both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at his event would prompt him to imitate a famous local exercise - jumping into the Pacific Ocean from a high cliff.
"It would be incredible to have Rafa and Roger in the same year," Zurutuza said. "Have you heard about the divers in Acapulco? They are very famous, because there is a cliff, where there are divers who throw themselves from very high into the water. I tell you something - if Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal play together in Acapulco one day, I will jump off the cliff into the sea."
I do not lose hope that Roger Federer will come to Acapulco: Raul Zurutuza
Raul Zurutuza also jokingly marveled at Roger Federer’s longevity, claiming that the 39-year-old might well play for another decade. But the Mexican Open TD remains hopeful of Federer taking part in the Mexican Open even if his career doesn’t last that long.
"This is something we have discussed with Tony Godsick (his agent) many times," Zurutuza said about Roger Federer. "Look, maybe 10 years from now, we'll both have more gray hair and Roger will still be playing tennis. Nothing tells us that he will continue playing for several more years. I do not lose hope that he will come."
Rafael Nadal ensures you sell many tickets: Raul Zurutuza
Rafael Nadal pulled out of this year’s Mexican Open amid some controversy surrounding his appearance fee. In that context, Zurutuza was asked if the absence of a player of Nadal’s stature caused any noticeable difference to the event.
The Mexican Open TD answered that a decade ago, he would have measured Rafael Nadal’s absence in terms of revenue generated from ticket sales. Now, however, ticket sales remain at a healthy figure even in the absence of top stars.
To prove his point, Zurutuza cited an instance from 2018, where a majority of the tickets were sold out despite Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal from the event.
"If you asked me this question 10 years ago, I would have answered that the difference was between selling tickets or not selling them," explained Zurutuza. "Having a figure of the caliber of Rafa ensures you sell many tickets. But to this day, ticket sales, fortunately, have been maintained."
"We found out a couple of years ago," Zurutuza added. "Just before the tournament presentation press conference, Rafa was injured at the US Open and we could not confirm it. Despite this, in 20 days more than 60% of the tickets had been sold."