LONDON (AFP) – Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic quit his Wimbledon first round match after just 15 minutes on Tuesday (July 4) but insisted players who pocket prize money for such brief encounters should not be judged.
The 33-year-old was 5-0 down to Jared Donaldson when he quit with a leg injury, becoming the sixth man to retire from the first round.
That total soon became seven when Spain’s Feliciano Lopez, the Queen’s Club champion, retired trailing 5-7, 6-1, 6-1, 4-3 to France’s Adrian Mannarino.
Earlier, Roger Federer reached the second round when Alexandr Dolgopolov quit when trailing 6-3, 3-0 after just 43 minutes complaining of an ankle injury.
Title rival Novak Djokovic also moved on in just 40 minutes when Martin Klizan, suffering from a calf injury, retired at 6-3, 2-0 down.
All first round losers at Wimbledon receive £35,000 (S$62,000).
But Tipsarevic insisted that had he known he was carrying a serious injury he would not have stepped on court.
The 33-year-old said he had been assured by tournament doctors that he had not suffered a tear in his hamstring despite feeling searing pain following a practice earlier this week.
“I was 110 per cent sure that I had torn my right hamstring, I could hardly walk. But the doctor said all seemed clear,” said Tipsarevic.
“I was expecting him to say that I had broken a tendon. I even took an epidural in my lower back.
“I went back to see him. I said please check, but he said all was clear. If he had said you have a tear I would not have stepped on court.
“It would be unfair if I did that when I knew just to take the prize money.” Tipsarevic said that having made more than $8 million in his career, he had no pressing need to bank the first round cheque.
But he was adamant that players down the rankings who scrape a living on the second and third-tier circuits should not be judged if they see such prize money as a much-needed windfall.
He believes that the four Grand Slams should adopt the ATP rule whereby an injured player can withdraw from the tournament but keep the prize money.
His place would go instead to a ‘lucky loser’ from qualifying who would only collect a cheque from the second round onwards.
“Lots of players fight through Challengers to get to the main draw of a Slam. They have to pay coaches and their teams,” added Tipsarevic.
“They get the chance to earn £35,000 and I don’t think anyone has the right to judge them because the same guy may then go on to a Challenger and make just 300 euros.
“I think the ATP rule should be introduced – it’s a win-win.”