Photo DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images via Daylife
Per the NYTimes, the US Open issued a rare, NFL-style injury report on Saturday due to the record number of retirements at this year’s tournament. As of today, there have been 14 player tap outs during matches – including Tomas Berdych (shoulder) and Marcel Granollers (abdominal) in Saturday’s third rounds. Add walkovers like Robin Soderling (virus) and Venus Williams (chronic autoimmune disease) and we’re looking at 18 lame, ailing and/or maimed players before the first weekend’s through. That’s 7 percent of the men’s and women’s singles fields (NYTimes.) Here’s hoping someone shows up to play the finals. . .
It’s no shocker that Roger Federer, a guy with a single, solitary walkover and zero – YES ZERO – retirements in some 970 total matches played in his pro career is, well, shocked by this development. He spoke to reporters about it after winning his third round vs. Marin Cilic on Saturday afternoon:
Q. There has been more retirements, more players retiring this…
ROGER FEDERER: Than ever, right?
Q. Than ever.
ROGER FEDERER: It’s a record.
Q. Can you pinpoint any possible reason? There has been some talk about balls being different.
ROGER FEDERER: The balls? I think the balls are the same. I’d say 50% of them aren’t lucky because, you know, not feeling well or getting injured or carrying in an injury. Depends where that player comes from. Maybe did they overplay a little bit? Has he been playing too long with an injury already? I mean, comes out in best of five set tennis. Can’t hide it, in my opinion. Could some guys finish the matches? I’m sure, but they didn’t decide to. For me it is shocking to see so many retirements. I have never retired in my whole life except once when I played against Blake in Paris, but I didn’t even walk on to the court. For me it doesn’t matter how bad I’m feeling, I will be out there and giving it a try, because you never know what’s gonna happen. Look, every player feels different. It’s unfortunate it happen for the fans, I guess.
As a non-athlete, non-physician, it’s impossible for me to judge too harshly – especially when it comes to walkovers or an obviously suffering player on the court. But I agree for the most part with Roger’s old school philosophy. It’s bad for the sport when fans – especially the casual types who only tune into the Majors – witness player after player tapping out. And I don’t think it’s going to improve anytime soon, given the growing, new-school attitude reflected in recent comments by players from Nadal to Fognini that there’s no point continuing to play if you know you can’t win. To this I say: No mas!