Well, there goes my whole theory about Bercy being the new Roland Garros. Roger Federer withdrew from the tournament with a stiff back just minutes before his quarterfinal against James Blake, and Rafael Nadal retired with a sore knee after losing the first set of his match against Nikolay Davydenko.
Neither of these players retire or withdraw very often – in fact, I believe Roger has retired maybe once in his entire career. So when they do, we can be certain that it’s with good reason. Roger’s stiff back could be anything – maybe the beds at the Hotel George V are firmer than he likes or he’s been hitting the weight room too hard. Let’s hope it isn’t a Taylor Dent type of thing. Rafa’s knee is a little scarier – did anyone else hear the trainer talking about injections? We all know what injections lead to – surgery – which means that Rafa may miss a few months next year if things don’t improve.
But let’s get to what really matters – us! What method of bowing out do you prefer, the withdrawal or the retirement? There’s something valiant about giving it a go on court, getting beat-up by your opponent, and enduring a deep tissue rub-down on the side lines before smiling ruefully and throwing in the headband. On the surface, I’d say a retirement is preferable – at least the fans see the warm up, and – before the first injury time-out – feel the buzz that a legitimate upset may be in the works. But in the end, there’s something icky about going through the motions – putting your opponent and the crowd through the wringer until you finally fess up to being unfit to play. The withdrawal, though less exciting and emotional, is the more sporting way to go.
My final verdict: a retirement is slightly better for the fans and a withdrawal is much better for the other player.
What do you think?