Grand Slams Considering Cutting First Round Prize Money To Stem The Tide Of Early Retirements
by Tom Gainey | July 5th, 2017, 6:37 pm

In the men’s draw at Wimbledon this week, seven players retired in the first round, with four players failing to even play two full sets. For their efforts, they each collected roughly $45,200 and for those on Centre Court like Alexandr Dolgopolov and Martin Klizan, they left fans hoping to see full matches from Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, heartbroken.

The ATP has already adopted a trial rule this season allowing injured players to collect their first round monies then give up their spot to a “lucky loser” from qualifying who plays for second round dough. But in Slams where the money is greater, no such rule exists. So players who are injured can and do just show up to get their money and exit without even finishing the match.

They earned. They deserve, they will argue. But it’s not good for fans and not good for the sport.

In order to combat this recent trend, the Slams are now considering slashing first round prize to give less incentive to the already-injured to show up.

“The question always is, should they have started the match at all,” Federer said after a 43-minute win over Dolgopolov on Tuesday. “That only the player can answer really, in my opinion. You hope that they would give up their spot for somebody else, even though they deserve to be in there, but fitness not allowing them.

“I don’t know how much of that has something to play with it. On the ATP level we have a different sort of situation, whereas if you can’t play, you still get your prize money twice in the year. Maybe the Grand Slams should adopt some of that, then maybe we would eliminate maybe half of the players.”

Added Djokovic, “Maybe it should be addressed. I think the new rule that the ATP has reinforced allows players who deserve already, who have made it to the Grand Slam main draw, to get what they deserve, but at the other hand allow someone else to play if they can. I support that kind of rule.”

Janko Tipsarevic, who played just five games, took the other side and said this, “If a guy is all his life is playing challengers and suddenly has a chance to play Wimbledon main draw where the first round loss is £35,000, I don’t think anybody has the right to judge him, to say ‘you didn’t do the right thing, you’re unfair for going there and picking up a check'”.

Players like Feliciano Lopez and Viktor Troicki retired in singles but remain eligible in doubles. Lopez even played doubles today and lost but still collected. Troicki is on the schedule tomorrow. Will he play despite a nagging shoulder?

That’s why there’s reportedly talk of taking first round money away and redistributing it to the later round.

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12 Comments for Grand Slams Considering Cutting First Round Prize Money To Stem The Tide Of Early Retirements

t4t Says:

I think grand slams should be more generous and not think of taking away the first round loser’s prize. Just imagine if they do that, 64 players will not get anything. ATP’s rule is more fair.

t4t Says:

In fact, correct that to read 128 players, 64 men and 64 women players.

skeezer Says:

“They earned. They deserve, they will argue. But it’s not good for fans and not good for the sport.”
They do not deserve if they cannot play.

Wog Boy Says:

“In order to combat this recent trend, the Slams are now considering slashing first round prize to give less incentive to the already-injured to show up.”

That’s extremely unfair, they are contemplating punishing 256 players because of handful of players (1-2%) and on top of that for something they can’t prove, they can only have suspicions that they entered the match injured.

Then again, how many players are openly entering matches injured without knowing they will be able to finish the match or perform well enough to justify money that fans spent for tickets. They don’t even hide it. Almost everyone has done it at some stages of their career starting with Nole, Roger, Rafa, Andy…

Another question, are they going to not pay somebody who does WO for that particular round, I mean he qualified but hasn’t played the match, doesn’t deserve to be payed? If they pay him they should pay players who qualified for the first round but decided to pull out due to injury, at the end of the day they qualified, one or the other way?

Wog Boy Says:

^^^ paid

Margot Says:

I hope Grand Slams put this idiotic idea straight in the trash can. So unfair I can hardly believe they are even “considering” it. The ATP scheme is much better.

gonzalowski Says:

Darcis has suffered considerable pain in the back in a bad movement, he can not just run, and has retired. 3-0 for Ferru

RZ Says:

Even if they slash the first round money, there will still be a lot of retirements, as the paycheck will still be more than what some of these guys would make at a satellite or challenger tournament.

James Says:

Taking away first round money, or even reducing it, is just plain wrong and cruel. the top 30 players do well, but if you are outside the top 50, its not exactly a lavish life. And for someone breaking into the top 100, $45,000 is a lot of money, AND THEY DESERVE IT.

Again, this is ideology overruling logic. The simple solution is to give them the prize money (ALL of it), and replace with a lucky loser from qualifying if they don’t show up in the first round. Win-win. Lucky loser gets something he wouldn’t have gotten otherwise – a great chance of moving forward to a big payday, or at least a first round match in a slam. The injured player gets the money THEY deserve.

Why slash that money? Then why not just make it “Winner take all” – give $20 million to the champion, and zero to others?

skeezer Says:

I posted on the Tomic thread about this. I disagree.
“Get paid for losing the first Round? Would rather see players who enter have their expenses paid to enter that is all(if they qualify). If they win a match, then they get paid. No pay the first rd, only if they win….”
And another thing, you don’t think the competition would be any better that first round by doing this??
Taking your stance it is encouraging injured players to play, just to receive a first rd paycheck. Would rather them give that spot to a player who can play. That is what the fans pay to see, not someone limping or hobbling around to cash a check. How does the fan feel when he/she pays to watch a match that is not really a match, its just a show up to get my check? Oh…it’s ok, cause he/she’s EARNED it? Refund please……

James Says:


My recommendation is similar to Cahill – give them all the prize money even for NOT playing the first round, IF they qualify for the first round. Then they have no incentive to play if they are not fit enough, since playing won’t give them any more money, just increase risk of injury AND they won’t have a chance to move to second round anyway if they KNOW they are injured. So give them the money even if they don’t play, as long as they withdraw the day before. THEN a lucky loser can step in, and everyone is better off.

So my recommendation DOESN’T encourage injured players to play, quite the contrary.

skeezer Says:

Got it and makes sense, 👍

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