Two of the world’s top tennis players, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, came to Bangkok to earn a few million dollars for an exhibition match. But there were a few strings attached. Before their Friday night match, Djokovic and Nadal swapped tennis clothes for formal Thai silk jackets in baby blue and pastel yellow. The dress code was part of a tightly scripted trip meant to boost military-ruled Thailand’s image, which included a meeting with the junta leader.
One of the day’s many photo opportunities was at the Erawan Shrine, the site of a deadly bombing in August, where the players laid wreaths and posed for pictures under tight security and a pelting rain. The No. 1-ranked Djokovic and his longtime rival Nadal were playing a sold-out exhibition match dubbed ”Back to Thailand.” The event was organized by local authorities to boost confidence in the country’s safety after the bombing that left 20 people dead and more than 120 injured. The Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand, an organizer of the event, said the players would receive a total of 150 million baht ($4.1 million) for coming to Thailand.