In Depth

Wimbledon row as players pull out of matches

Spate of withdrawals could lead to changes in allocation of prize money

Never mind the swarms of flying ants, Wimbledon's biggest concern so far this year has been the spate of first-round withdrawals, which could result in changes to the way prize money is decided.

Fans on Centre Court hoping to see Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in action on Tuesday were left feeling short-changed after both players' opponents withdrew halfway through the second set.

Indeed, Johanna Konta's three-hour match against Donna Vekic on the same court on Wednesday lasted longer "than the entirety of play the day before", reports The Guardian.

Federer himself seemed critical of the actions, saying: "A player should not go on court if he knows he should not finish."

The situation has prompted "considerable angst… around the corridors of SW19", says Mike Dickson of the Daily Mail, adding the issue was "compunded" by Bernard Tomic's admission that he had barely tried in his straight-set defeat by Mischa Zverev.

"The adverse publicity will focus minds when the Grand Slam Board - representing the four Majors - meets at Wimbledon next week," says Dickson.

It is claimed that several of the players who withdrew knew they would not be able to play properly, leading to accusations they only stepped foot on court to make sure they got paid, says the Daily Telegraph. "Players who pull out before the tournament are not entitled to the prize money," it says.

The row "intensified" when Viktor Troicki and Feliciano Lopez, who both withdrew from singles matches, went on to re-enter themselves in the doubles tournament.

A possible solution is already in the pipeline, says Dickson. The ATP tour is trialling a "scheme where those who pull out before a match are guaranteed first-round money, while a loser from qualifying can step in and play for the chance to make the second round and earn that portion of the purse.

"However, some senior officials question the ethics of paying players handsomely for not performing, and it has to be remembered that the four Grand Slams operate as a separate entity from the rest of the tour, which is controlled by the ATP."

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