'Can of worms': Rafa Nadal injury sparks fiery tennis debate

Should a ‘lucky loser’ be able to carry on if their opponent withdraws from the following round?

That question has prompted a lively debate in the tennis world, after the massive rule change was suggested by veteran tennis scribe Christopher Clary on Twitter.

Clary, the global sports columnist for the New York Times, suggested the change after Rafael Nadal withdrew from his semi-final clash against Roger Federer, allowing the Swiss maestro to cruise through to the final.

Rafael Nadal pulled out of the Indian Wells tournament on Saturday. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal pulled out of the Indian Wells tournament on Saturday. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

Under his proposal Karen Khachanov, who Nadal beat 7-6, 7-6 in the quarter-final, would instead face Federer in the semi-final.

Truly think it’s time for tennis to at least consider possibility of allowing a defeated opponent to advance if the player who defeats them is unable to play next round,” he said.

Would open up other cans of worms but the show really needs to go on.”

Clary’s proposal divided fans, with some fearing it would be open to exploitation by match-fixers.

Others thought it would work well for fans, ensuring people who bought tickets for big games didn’t lose out.

Clary went on to admit match-fixing would be the biggest problem with his proposed change.

I realise that risk would be there. That is the biggest worm in the can but still worth an extended debate in an increasingly physical sport in a competitive sporting landscape,” he wrote.

Others pointed out that if Khachanov had truly earned his place in the semi-final, he should have defeated the injured Nadal in the first place.

Nadal pulled out of his match against Federer after consistent knee pain troubled him.

“I wanted to try my best to be competitive today,” he said.

“I warmed up today in the morning, and I felt that my knee was not enough good to compete at the level that I need to compete, to play semi-finals match of this event.”

Federer later paid tribute to his long-time foe.