x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

British visit does not add up for Spaniard Nadal

That Nadal felt it necessary to cite British tax law is interesting, in that he could have decided to play in Germany, at Halle, without having to mention the tax ramifications.

Tennis players have a history of fleeing from the tax man. Bjorn Borg moved to Monte Carlo in the 1970s to avoid the Swedish revenuers, and Boris Becker decamped to Monaco in the 1980s to frustrate the German authorities.

Perhaps it is the individualism of the game, the idea of "income derived from personal sweat of brow", that makes tax bills so repellent to the tennis elite. Or perhaps it is their standing in the upper edge of wage earners.

Rafael Nadal became the latest to make a career decision based on taxes when he said last week that he will not play at Queen's Club in London next year.

Nadal insisted that he could actually lose money by playing the traditional grass-court warm-up tournament, citing recent British law which taxes prize money and appearance fees in Britain, and also duns a proportion of athletes' worldwide endorsement earnings. The law also affects musicians and actors.

That Nadal felt it necessary to cite British tax law is interesting, in that he could have decided to play in Germany, at Halle, without having to mention the tax ramifications.

Consider it, then, an attempt to influence British public opinion by the Spaniard. "If you want to see more of me, rescind the law."

He will play at Wimbledon next year, and in London at the ATP World Finals next month.

Sometimes saving on taxes is eclipsed by the magnitude of the event. Players like Borg, Becker and Nadal have done the maths.