In 2012, David Goffin lost in the third round of Roland-Garros qualifying, 6-3 7-6, to Portuguese Joao Sousa. Despite this defeat, the Belgian, a week later, played in the round of 16 of the Parisian Grand Slam against his idol Roger Federer. For the record, it was during this tournament that the world really discovered David Goffin.
How, will you tell me? How could he lose twice in the same tournament? Thanks to the status of lucky loser, of course! This repechage which allows players participating in the qualifying round, and having lost in the last round, to still integrate the final table.
The instructions are quite simple: once a player has lost the last round of the “qualifiers”, he is invited to wait until the end of the first round of the final table – the latter can run up to to Wednesday – to possibly take the place of a player who withdrew before his first match. This is not a rare case. There are lucky losers every week. And fortunately, otherwise we would end up with players who would have qualified for the second round without having played a single match. With a bye, I understand, but there, it would be unjustified. This would create a sporting imbalance and, as a bonus, would have an impact on the ticketing of the tournament in question which would end up, for once, with one less match to offer.
No sparks. No match at all.
That being said, I would like to tell you about Jannik Sinner. Not that I have anything against this talented and nice guy, only here, at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Sinner played a complicated third round against Benjamin Bonzi, the Frenchman currently having the wind in his sails. It was a good match, I was there, and it was with a heavy heart, not as much as “Bonz” but still, that I left the court after the defeat of Nîmes. The following day, in the round of 16, Sinner was scheduled to face Nick Kyrgios, in a match that would undoubtedly have sparked off. I know it, because there is no “normal” match with the Australian. And very often, when his racket is thrown violently on the ground, it creates incandescent patches. But not there. No sparks. No match at all. Sinner was unwell and forfeited. As a result, the spectators who were waiting, drooling, in Stadium 2, this match full of promise, were entitled to nothing, nada!
I don’t hold it against Sinner at all, who was probably physically unable to play this match. On the other hand, I find it regrettable for the spectators, the tournament, the television viewers and all tennis fans.
A few days later, Jannik Sinner, in Miami this time, had to give up against Francisco Cerundolo, when he was down 1-4 in the first set and after only 22 minutes. Again, everyone I mentioned previously had a big shortfall. So certainly, it was not about Kyrgios on the other side of the net, on the other hand it was this time about a quarter-final. 25% of the quarter-finals therefore went up in smoke.
A priori, this abandonment occurred due to a blister on the foot. Again, I don’t doubt it at all, but I think Sinner should never have entered the court. However, following his withdrawal in California, the Italian did not want to repeat and he tried his luck. But as much to say that if there had been no match at all, it was the same.
I don’t understand why nothing is being done to prevent this kind of situation. Rather than finding a solution, fatalism takes over and a simple “It’s like that” closes the subject.
Novak Djokovic won without breaking a sweat
But no ! It is not like that “. I absolutely do not agree. Especially when the solution is so simple and clear.
When a player loses a match in a tableau, he must be asked to wait until the start of the next match that the player who has just beaten him is going to play. If the latter is unable to play, he is replaced, post for post, by the loser of the day before. Unlike Lucky Losers, mid-tournament forfeits don’t happen that often. It would therefore be an epiphenomenon, but which would have the advantage of preventing holes in the programming. You will tell me, a second Grand Slam round goes unnoticed. Certainly, but on the occasion of a final, it shows much more.
A specific example comes to mind: the Masters final in 2014. Roger Federer had played a very complicated semi-final against his compatriot Stan Wawrinka. The next day, in the Masters final, therefore, due to back pain, the Swiss could not play a single point and Novak Djokovic won without breaking a sweat. Don’t you think Stan would have liked the opportunity to play this game? And don’t you think that the public around the world would have preferred to see a Djokovic-Wawrinka (drafted), rather than bumping into any replay of yet another historic match?
Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. So, I officially make this proposal to introduce the repechage in the final table and not just in qualifying. So I’m launching a consultation.
For or against?