Andy Murray Has A Solution To Stop First Round Retirements: Pay Players Just For Making It Into The Draw
by Tom Gainey | September 3rd, 2015, 9:36 pm

Andy Murray had to struggle today coming back from two sets down to win in five sets over Adrian Mannarino in 3-hours, 17-minutes.

“I’m proud of the way I fought,” said Murray after his eighth 0-2 comeback. “It was not an easy match to come through at all. He was making it extremely difficult for me, as well. Thought he played some really, really good tennis. He has such an unorthodox game, I didn’t really feel that comfortable at many points out there in the match. But, yeah, I was happy, very happy with the way I fought through that, you know, finished the match stronger than him.”

The story though of the first week has been the heat, and while Murray overcame it today several players have retired due to the soaring temperatures and for other reasons. All totaled, 14 players have already retired from the US Open and the 12 men are an Open Era record for any Grand Slam.

With matches ending early cheating fans out of competition, Murray says he has a solution to the epidemic.

“It’s a very easy thing to solve,” Murray said. “Obviously people can get injured in a match. In an individual sport, you can’t just substitute someone else in, like, during a match. If someone’s injured before they go out there, they’re just going to play five games or a few games just to get the first-round check, then that’s really bad for anyone that’s paid to come and watch. So the best thing to do, I think if you’ve worked the whole year to get into these events and earned the right to play, if you show up here and withdraw, give the lucky loser a chance. But the player that pulls out just takes the first-round prize money.

“If I was the lucky loser, I’d be delighted to have the chance to play for the second-round prize money. I think the player that’s earned the right to be there in the first place, you give them the first-round prize money and you avoid people walking on the court for a few games. It’s a waste of time for everyone.”

As it stands, retiring first round player still collect the full amount of $39,500. What Murray is saying is give the players that money without even hitting a ball!

Players would just show up, collect the check and leave, and the tournament would have to pay out more money and you would see far more withdrawals – why play Serena Williams, Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic when you can just pick the check up and get paid for not doing anything!

After playing five sets, Murray will have a day off before returning to face Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci on Saturday.

“I expect a tough match,” Murray said of the lefty. “I would imagine he’s pretty close to his career-high ranking just now. He’s played well this year. Good serve. Plays predominantly from the back of the court. But he’s an aggressive player. He likes to try and dictate the points from the back. Like I say, he’s had some good results this year. Won two matches here very comfortably. So, yeah, I expect a tough match and one that I’ll need to, you know, play very well to win.”

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14 Comments for Andy Murray Has A Solution To Stop First Round Retirements: Pay Players Just For Making It Into The Draw

Ben Pronin Says:

Murray’s completely right. Obviously this event has been unique with the heat and a guy like Jack Sock was probably fine until today. But I’m sure this is happening at other slams, too. I’m pretty sure the girl who played Serena in the first round was guilty of this very thing. I don’t even fault her or the other players. That’s a lot of money. And it’s not like the US Open can’t afford it. But it sounds like Murray is saying pay the guys who withdraw but let the lucky losers try to win and make money in the next round. I don’t think that quite works but I’m sure there’s a way to make everyone happy.

Margot Says:

On radio just heard there’s a cold going round, which Andy has, and that, combined with the humidity, is contributing to the retirements.
Andy sounded pretty full of it in interview.
Hope he feels better by Saturday.
Summer colds are the worst :(

jane Says:

and for goodness sake, implement a heat rule for the men, too.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Murray’s absolutely right, and the cost would be minimal for the gains. The post writer is being silly: why would anyone who is trying to make a living on tour, and has dedicated their entire life to tennis withdraw just so they don’t have to lose in public? That’s a fantasy. These players would PAY to play Fed or Novak on a stadium court.

Ben Pronin Says:

TV, I think the players who go out injured to collect the pay check wouldn’t PAY to play the top guys, but I get your point.

The much reviled Sergiy Stakhovsky wrote about how little the guys who aren’t winning slams all the time really make. Journeyman, challenger-level players, these guys are generally lucky to break even. Think about how tough it is for qualifiers at the US Open. They basically spend all their money just trying to get into the main event. They’re not paid a lot just for the qualifying matches. And they have to pay for almost everything out of pocket; flight, hotel, coach. And it’s NY, so you know it’s expensive.

RZ Says:

I’ve heard this suggestion from others too. It’s sort of like unemployment insurance for grand slam entrants. The slams would need to put some of the prize money aside for those who would withdraw.

@Ben – I agree that lucky losers making it to the first round would need to be paid something. But if such a rule were instituted, there wouldn’t be too many lucky losers as those with ongoing injuries would withdraw ahead of time and still get paid. It would only be those with last minute issues or those who were biding their time in hopes of getting healthy enough to play.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

The fairness of pay scale is another issue. Murray is addressing more the competitive aspect and value for fans. Makes a lot of sense. Ben, as you say, these players coming through qualifiers are desperate for cash- so they’ll play injured just for it, and ruin the entertainment value. Makes much more sense to take that cash pressure off.

RZ, I think you misunderstand. This would have nothing to do with the qualifier rounds, only with those who MAKE it through qua lies and earn the right to play in the first round. So, if they’ve won their qualifying matches but come through to the main draw with new injuries, this would allow them a financial break so that they could withdraw and allow a lucky loser to take their place.

Ben Pronin Says:

RZ, you might be opening up a can of worms that way, though. Are you saying ANYONE who qualifies for direct entry into the tournament should be paid even if they’re not going to fly out?

RZ Says:

@TV, I get that the rule would apply to those who qualify properly to be part of the slam, not those who have to play qualifying to be able to enter. My point is that there may not be as many last minute withdrawals if this rule was instituted.

@Ben – it could open a can of worms, maybe. A lot of players have ongoing injuries that are known about ahead of time. But I see your point – that a low ranked player who thinks he/she is unlikely to get through a first round match could end up just taking the money and not play. I think there has to be some other rules in place – for instance, you couldn’t take the first round money, and then go and play a challenger tournament. And perhaps they should fly out and get checked out by the tournament doctor. A lot of things to figure out here if this would become policy.

Ben Pronin Says:

Here’s something to think about:

What this insurance rule was implemented? A guy either makes it through qualifying or is a direct entry and gets injured before the first round. But instead of pulling out and taking the prize money anyway, he thinks he can play through it and ends up retiring anyway. I would think there’d be even more backlash, then. People would say why didn’t he just take the cash? But maybe he liked his match up and really thought he could get through it and progress in the tournament.

I ask because we’ve heard Federer say that he’s often played through injuries throughout his career and it’s worked out for him. He’s been lucky enough to do that and, I mean he’s Roger Federer, so we just accept it. But if it’s a guy ranked 80 who does this, who also simply believes he can play through an injury, but then loses, he’d get eaten alive.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Ben, I think you’re over imagining a problem. No one will blame a competitor who thinks they can go! Andy is talking about players who KNOW they shouldn’t be playing but do anyway. Under Murray-Rules, if a player tried to play, but has to retire, at least we would know he didn’t do it just to grab the cash.

Ben Pronin Says:

You’re probably right. But just based on how the media reacts to everything, I just think there’s always going to be backlash for something. First the people won’t like the idea. Then they’ll find reasons to say “see, we were right for not liking it” and so on. Until it becomes completely normal and people say “man, can you believe this WASN’T the case before?”

Giles Says:

Federer, injuries?? What bloody injuries has he suffered apart from the odd twinge or two? Pronin just stop with your garbage now please. Oops sorry. he was injured at the O2 last year and hence his withdrawal from the final. ROFL

addicted Says:

Huh. No one’s gonna give up a chance to play a Federer or a Novak just because they are worried they will lose.

And is absolutely right. You don’t become p 150 tennis player in the world and then shy away from playing the best.

That comment by the author makes me wonder if he’s ever even played a street pickup game in any sport before.

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