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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