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.
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.
In theory a nice way of dealing with the issue, in practice an absolute nightmare that is completely unworkable, I'm afraid.
— Paul Timmons (@PaulT_Tennis) March 16, 2019
I totally agree Chris. We have to think more than we do about the fans, the people who paid their ticket, the ones who watch tennis on tv.
— Patrick Mouratoglou (@pmouratoglou) March 16, 2019
Just like the lucky loser idea from last summer!! Why should a lucky loser only be from qualifying event? Why not include Monday or Tuesday 1st round losers from MAIN draw, when someone withdraws late Tuesday Or Wednesday. In this era we need NEW RULES!!!
— Pam Shriver (@PHShriver) March 17, 2019
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.
This is actually the dumbest idea I've heard. How can you justify the possibility of Khachanov winning Indian Wells after losing a match earlier? Or Kohlschreiber advancing after winning 2 games versus Monfils? There's no way you could possibly allow for this type of change.
— Reva (@VamosReva) March 16, 2019
I’m sorry but if khachanov couldn’t beat an injured Nadal, there’s no way he deserves to have another chance at the title. I think the best option for the fans is if they had both men and women’s semifinals on the same day. If one player is unable to play there is still 3 matches
— Sadp Ric (@sadpRik) March 16, 2019
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.”