There’s an interesting story coming out of the Luxembourg Open today, following Caroline Wozniacki’s first round retirement (hamstring) against local gal Anne Kremer on Tuesday. Wozniacki was up 7-5, 5-0 when she tapped out, offering this explanation later:
“I could possibly have finished the match, but felt there was no way I could get ready for the second round on Thursday, so I chose the sporting way and let her go through. She’s also [playing] at home,” Wozniacki told Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet. (via tennis.com)
Reportedly, it was Wozniacki’s father and coach who recommended the “sporting way” during an on court coaching session at 3-0 in the second set:
“I said to her, ‘Caroline, whether it is 5-0, 4-1 or 3-2 at the next change of ends, you have to decide if you will be able to play the next match. Then make the right decision. I have spoken to the tournament director, who spoke to the WTA, who was also at the match. They all said Caroline showed a lot of sportsmanship.” (via tennis.com)
The catch about the televised courtside chat in Polish was that one viewer understood what was said. Realizing Wozniacki would stop in two more games at 5-0 ahead, the person was able to alert bettors to the opportunity to make money on Kremer, which reportedly some people did on the Betfair.com website.
Piotr Wozniacki is reportedly “amazed” by the fuss, saying: “That (betting) can never be Caroline’s or my responsiblity… [It's like] Lotto. You take the risk.“ (via tennis.com)
I agree with Mr. Wozniacki that the players should not and can not concern themselves with how their actions may impact online betting (unless, of course, they are being paid or otherwise coerced.) But obviously this type of thing worries the sport’s governing bodies. I know, how about we do away with the on-court coaching rule? It’s the one situation where I’d support caving to the bookies.
And what do you think of the “sportsmanship” defense of Caroline’s retirement? I can see why the Wozniackis would think it was a nice thing to do, but I still think it stinks. If you can physically finish a match you should, no matter who your opponent is or what the home crowd and the tournament director may prefer. Once you start making these kinds of calculations (or letting your dad make them for you) things get sticky – as Caroline has discovered.