‘Ambitious’ Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is reportedly exploring the possibility of an exhibition match between tennis stars Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to open a renovated Santiago Bernabeu.
The 81,000-seater stadium is currently being given a £500million facelift and talk has now turned to how the site will be inaugurated, with a blockbuster tennis exhibition among the discussions.
According to Defensa Central, Real Madrid fan Nadal ‘has always dreamed of playing at the Bernabeu’ and he could take on long-standing rival Federer to make that dream a reality.
Rafael Nadal (left) and Roger Federer (right) are being lined up for an exhibition match in Spain
Real Madrid are renovating their 81,000-seater stadium and want a landmark event to open it, with president Florentino Perez ‘keen to break the attendance record for a tennis match’
The £500m redevelopment is seeing a new four-storey car park installed, a retractable roof, a 360-degree video screen and a new seating section.
The inclusion of a retractable pitch is the key to the stadium hosting events of different disciplines, such as tennis.
Part of the motivation to host Nadal at the Bernabeu is a desire, from the club’s side, to break the single tennis match attendance record.
Nadal (left) was due to play a charity match at the Bernabeu in 2012 against Novak Djokovic
Nadal and Federer, who both have 20 Grand Slam titles on their career CVs, hold the current attendance record after they played out a very popular exhibition in front of 51,954 spectators in Cape Town, South Africa, on February 7, 2020.
Real Madrid’s 81,000-seater site would comfortably surpass that figure and it would also represent redemption for Nadal, who saw his last match at the Bernabeu cancelled through injury.
Nadal had previously agreed an exhibition match against Novak Djokovic at the Bernabeu in 2012.
But the Spaniard was sidelined with a knee injury and as such the event was cancelled.
The redevelopment – including the retractable roof – is set to be completed by October 2022
World No 1 Djokovic is expected to be first reserve if Federer, who when work is complete on the stadium in October 2022 would be 41 years old, is unable to take on Nadal.
‘We are facing one of the great projects of the future for Real Madrid, and, of course, it will be also for the city of Madrid,’ club president Perez said back in April when the plans were unveiled.
‘The new Santiago Bernabeu stadium will entail an important improvement for the club, but also for its surroundings.
‘The new stadium will allow us to keep growing. It will allow Real Madrid to remain competitive in an increasingly difficult scenario in international football.’