Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic said Wimbledon should consider rule changes after both their first-round opponents retired with injuries.
“We had a joke in the locker room saying we should maybe play a practice set on Center Court,” Djokovic is quoted as saying by BBC Sports’s tennis writer Piers Newbery.
Third seed Federer led 6-3 3-0 when Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov quit with an ankle injury after 43 minutes. Second seed Djokovic progressed after a calf injury saw Martin Klizan pull out after 40 minutes at 6-2 2-0 down. Both Klizan and Dolgopolov have struggled with injuries recently and their retirements were among a total of eight – seven in the men’s draw and one in the women’s – over the first two days of the All England Championships.
The ATP men’s tour introduced a rule at the start of 2017 that means a player can retire before a first-round match and retain their prize money. A lucky loser then gets the place and money earned from qualifying, plus any further prize money accrued from the second round onward.
The rule is not in place at the four Grand Slam tournaments. First-round losers at Wimbledon earn 35,000 pounds this year, potentially encouraging players to take to the court when they know they are not fit enough to compete.
“The question always is, should they have started the match at all?” Federer told BBC. “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. Maybe the Grand Slams should adopt some of that [the ATP rule], then maybe we would eliminate maybe half of the players [who retire].”
John McEnroe added: “It’s not a good look for our sport when you have to sit and watch that on Center Court.”
This story first appeared in the blog, The Sport Intern. The editor is Karl-Heinz Huba of Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached at ISMG@aol.com. The article is reprinted here with permission of Huba.