Rafael Nadal believes that Britain might need to change its tax laws in order to keep the prestigious season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London. Speaking here last night after his 7-6, 6-3 defeat by Germany's Florian Mayer left Andy Murray as the top seed in the Shanghai Masters, Nadal said that playing in tournaments in Britain was becoming "more and more complicated".
Overseas sportsmen are taxed on their worldwide endorsement earnings for every day they spend in Britain, which has already caused athletes like Usain Bolt not to compete in the country. The World Tour Finals are being staged at the O2 Arena until 2013. The tournament has been a huge success in London, but it could move elsewhere when the present deal expires.
When asked if he felt the situation might lead players to want to go to another city, Nadal said London was "a fantastic event" but said that the tax position was a "really negative factor". He added: "If that changes, the chances to keep the World Tour Finals in London are going to be very, very high."
Nadal has decided not to play at Queen's Club next summer in preparation for Wimbledon and will instead compete in the tournament at Halle in Germany. He denied that the amount of appearance money being paid by Halle was the reason. "The tax regime from the UK is complicating a lot of things," he added. "The problem is I can lose money if I go [to Queen's] to play for one week."
Murray, chasing a third successive tournament victory, moved into the quarter-finals with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Stanislas Wawrinka. In today's quarter-finals he will play the world No 124, Australia's Matthew Ebden, who enjoyed the biggest victory of his career when he beat Gilles Simon, the world No 12.
The winner will face Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov (world No 18) or Japan's Kei Nishikori (world No 47) in tomorrow's semi-finals. The highest ranked player in the other half of the draw is the world No 5, Spain's David Ferrer.
Torrential rain meant that matches were played with the roof over the Qi Zhong stadium closed. With the balls flying, Murray needed to make a rapid adjustment to the conditions. He also had to survive a gutsy fightback in the second set by Wawrinka.
"I got myself pumped up right at the beginning of the third set," Murray said after winning his 12th match in a row. "Stan was playing very well. I was trying to control the ball. Especially in the middle of the second set, I was really struggling. I really had to make sure I got my feet moving."
Ebden, 23, has been making steady progress in recent months and is now the Australian No 2 behind Bernard Tomic. In reaching the quarter-finals here he has already guaranteed himself $77,800 (£49,700), the biggest pay cheque of his career.