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Top Spanish players in new series, but no Rafael Nadal

Three of the top four players from Spain will be headlining the UTR Pro Series-Spain, a three-event series that will be played on successive weekends beginning Saturday in Barcelona.

Conspicuous in his absence: ATP No. 2 ranked Rafael Nadal, who has not taken part in any of the growing number of "reopening" events tennis entrepreneurs and officials have staged during the suspension of ATP and WTA tennis due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Spanish events will feature No. 12 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 25 Pablo Carreno Busta, and Albert Ramos-ViƱolas, who is No. 41. Two of the other committed players are well-known, ageing veterans Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez, both of whom are still ranked in the top 100.

The UTR Pro Series tournament format is modeled on the wildly popular exhibition event created by Roger Federer, the Laver Cup (this year's event, scheduled for Boston in late September, has been canceled due to a conflict with the postponed French Open). The eight participants in the UTR showdown will be divided into two teams. The matches will be best-three sets, but with a match tiebreaker in lieu of a third set.

UTR, or Universal Tennis Rating, is an organization built on the foundation of a rating system that differs substantially from the formal ATP ranking system. It rates all players, including top pros, solely on the basis of their results against each other in recent matches recognized by UTR. It is widely used in junior play and by college recruiters, and has sponsored a number of exhibitions in recent months.

Federer is out of action for the rest of the year due to an aggravated knee injury. Novak Djokovic made his first appearance as a player during the coronavirus pandemic in late June, but the four-tournament Adria Tour he conceived turned into a debacle due to an outbreak of the coronavirus. Djokovic was among those who tested positive for COVID-19.

Nadal has kept his distance from the exhibition circuit, and has also expressed disappointment at the prospect of playing without fans in attendance at the upcoming US Open. He has not yet decided if he will defend his title in New York.