Rafael Nadal set to take centre stage as Netflix announce first live tennis match
Rafael Nadal is set to make a long-awaited comeback to tennis later this month and now it has been confirmed that he will take centre stage in the first live match to be broadcast on Netflix.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion has not played a competitive match since suffering a hip injury during his second-round defeat by Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open in January.
He was planning to make a return at the French Open last summer but was forced to abandon plans to play in the 2023 tennis season after undergoing surgery in a bid to cure his hip problem.
After weeks of speculation, heannounced will be at the Brisbane International that gets underway a the end of December, with all eyes set to be on Nadal as he made his comeback to the ATP Tour.
He is then expected to play at the Australian Open and now it has been confirmed that he has inked another date into his diary for March.
Netflix has announced that they will screen a match featuring Nadal and his Spanish compatriot Carlos Alcaraz live from Las Vegas on March 3.
“I’m very excited for my first visit to Las Vegas, one of the most iconic and entertaining cities in the world,” said Nadal.
“I’m also very excited to be playing with my fellow countryman Carlos Alcaraz. I am sure it will be a fantastic night of tennis.”
READ MORE: ‘Someone like Rafael Nadal doesn’t come back to do a farewell tour – the tournaments will not be catwalks’
Wimbledon champion Alcaraz also gave his views on the event as he said: “I’m honored and so happy to be sharing the court with Rafa in Las Vegas. He’s an all-time great, of course, and his records and achievements speak for themselves. Rafa also is one of the nicest guys on Tour and I look forward to our match on March 3.”
That will coincide with the build-up to the Indian Wells Masters, which also takes place on America’s west coast.
It is an intriguing development for Netflix, who have not been a part of the live sports broadcasting bidding up to this point.
There was an expectation that they may get in the mix for Premier League football rights in the UK, but the high cost of that bidding process saw those rumours fail to materialise.
Tennis365 understands the streaming service also considering bidding for live tennis rights after the success of their behind-the-scenes documentary series Break Point, which went behind the scenes on the ATP and WTA Tours.
It remains to be seen how significant this one-off live event may be in the future role of Netflix in sports broadcasting, with the reaction to this Las Vegas show likely to impact their future plans.
“I’m thrilled that with The Netflix Slam, we can give our global audience an opportunity to watch two tennis greats battle each other in a one-of-a-kind live event,” said Gabe Spitzer, Vice President, Nonfiction Sports, Netflix.
“A legend like Rafa and a champion like Carlos together on the court, along with tons of other action, promises to be a live show fans won’t want to miss.”
Nadal and Alcaraz are certain to be receiving a huge sum for playing in this match, with the viewing figures set to be monitored by Netflix as they consider their next move in sports broadcasting.
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