‘Been Pulling This Trick on Him’: Mubadala WTC Owner on his Long-Running Gag with Rafael Nadal

Published 12/13/2021, 8:43 AM EST
MADRID, SPAIN – MAY 14: Rafael Nadal of Spain bites the winners trophy after his win over Dominic Thiem of Austria in the final during day nine of the Mutua Madrid Open tennis at La Caja Magica on May 14, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)


Abu Dhabi is all set to host the Mubadala World Tennis Championship this week. In that vein, the world waits with bated breath to see their favorite, the Spaniard Rafael Nadal, finally return to the tournament.

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Nadal has been out of professional tennis since the Washington Open owing to a foot injury. However, the 20-time Grand Slam champion is now ready to return, and embark on his 2022 season journey. It will start from the exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi, where he currently holds the crown.

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Rafael Nadal has an ongoing annual joke with the tournament owner

The Spaniard has won the Mubadala World Tennis Championship a record 5 times. Moreover, he will be looking to announce his return to the sport by bagging his sixth title, something the fans would love to see.

In an interview with The National News, John Lickrish revealed that he and Rafael Nadal have an annual joke between them. Lickrish is the CEO of Flash Entertainment, who are the tournament owners of this exhibition championship.

Lickrish revealed how big tennis stars like Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, and Andrey Rublev love the atmosphere at the MWTC. Furthermore, it is their affinity for the tournament that makes them recurring players.

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So much so that Lickrish even has a running gag with the 5-time champion at Abu Dhabi. “I’ve been pulling this trick on him every year,” he shared. He says that it began when he complimented Rafa on his jacket one time, suddenly asking if he could have it.

 

Understandably, Nadal was baffled by the request. From then on, the joke has always been active every year the two meet.

Lickrish even tried taking Nadal’s watch

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – FEBRUARY 07: Academy Member Boris Becker passes the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award to Rafael Nadal during the award ceremony for the 2011 Laureus World Sports Awards at the Emirates Palace on February 7, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images for Laureus)

Lickrish further shares the trick he attempted the last time the championship was held in 2019. “The last time I did it with his Richard Mille watch. I was like, ‘that’s a great watch’ and he’s like, ‘yeah, you know it’s super light,'” he recalled.

 

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However, Rafa was ready this time, as he took the watch off and handed it to the tournament owner. Of course, Lickrish declined. “I would have taken the jacket if he had given it to me,” he joked.

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Rafael Nadal is set to grace Abu Dhabi this week. Thus, he and Lickrish are sure to have a new trick up their sleeve. After all, this time, they had two years to think about it!

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Samarveer Singh

222 articles

Samarveer Singh is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. Holding a degree in English Literature and a diploma in Fitness Sciences and Training, Samarveer is obsessed with tennis and basketball. A collegiate athlete himself, he admires all sportspersons who put in the work in order to achieve excellence.

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