Wimbledon marathon man John Isner urged locker-room rivals to ignore any niggling pain and give fans value for money after a rash of first-round retirements.
Isner spent 11 hours and five minutes on court when beating Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010, being barely able to stand after the longest match in history, and the American says only players in agony should quit contests at grand slam level.
Seven men abandoned singles matches over the first two days of this year’s championships, still pocketing £35,000 each for their efforts as first-round losers.
John Isner felt Wimbledon fans did not get value for money on Centre Court on Tuesday
Wimbledon fans were left angry after both men’s matches were cut short on Centre Court
TUESDAY ON CENTRE COURT
And while the circumstances of those withdrawals were different, Isner believes Centre Court spectators were left short-changed after the matches on Tuesday featuring Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer were cut short.
While Isner was beating Taylor Fritz in straight sets, it descended into near farce on the tournament’s biggest show court.
Djokovic was leading Martin Klizan 6-3 2-0 when the Slovakian succumbed to a calf injury, before Alexandr Dolgopolov pulled the plug in his match at 6-3 3-0 down to Federer.
Ticket prices on Tuesday for Centre Court were a minimum of £56 and Isner said: ‘I know the Wimbledon Centre Court didn’t get their money’s worth today. That’s for sure.’
The 32-year-old would not want a seriously injured player to carry on, but he suggested those with knocks should make every effort to complete their matches.
Isner said: ‘If it’s just excruciating pain, okay, you can’t play. If something is tweaked here or there and you feel like you can give it a decent go without hurting yourself, I think they should stay out there and I think you owe it to the fans.’
Federer and Djokovic called for Wimbledon to change its rules.
Federer said: ‘I felt like there was a bit of a letdown from the crowd. They couldn’t believe that it happened again, exactly the same situation.’
Fans hoping to catch Roger Federer saw him train but his actual match lasted just 43 minutes
The pull-outs highlighted the step-up in prize money at the grand slams. Wimbledon first-round losers pocket more than double the £14,500 offered five years ago.
For players with pre-existing injuries, the temptation might become too great to take to the court.
The ATP, which is the body that runs the men’s tour but not the grand slams, has introduced a rule this year whereby a player with an injury can pull out but still receive first-round prize money.
A lucky loser then takes their place and competes for prize money from the second round onwards.
Federer said: ‘A player should not go on court if he knows he should not finish.’
Novak Djokovic called for Wimbledon to change its rules over pulling out and prize money
He added: ‘The ATP has adjusted its rule. But maybe the slams should have a look at what they could do for the players to make it just a little bit easier. It’s a lot of money.’
Viktor Troicki and Janko Tipsarevic both spent less than 20 minutes on court on Tuesday before retiring from their matches. Tipsarevic won five points in five games, as a hamstring injury flared up. Feliciano Lopez also pulled out on Tuesday, when two sets to one down against Adrian Mannarino.
The grand slams and the WTA, which runs the women’s tour, are monitoring the impact of the ATP rule but no formal talks about introducing it have taken place.
Djokovic said: ‘I support that kind of rule. It’s really odd that Roger’s result and my result more or less was the same.’