How often do injured players retire when closer to victory, and how often when they are losing? Which players are more likely to retire, and which stay in match even though they are losing?
Tennis Magazine, who did this research, took into account the top 20 players and calculated the proportion of times they retired when close to losing a match. The aim of their work was to determine which players retire when they see that defeat is near, which, as they believe, tells a lot about a person’s attitude. So, matches where a player retired before the completion of the opening set, as well as those when a player withdrew while less than two games behind, were not included.
Some players are more prone to injuries, but you can see that some of them withdraw when they see that they can’t win. It’s evident that player’s retirement affects the opponent as well as spectators. The opponent can’t enjoy the victory as much, because things were left unfinished.
One of favorite WTA players, Kim Clijsters, had lots of injuries in her career, but retired while losing only once. Ana Ivanovic, Shahar Peer, Nicole Vaidisova and Martina Hingis have never left the match when behind.
On the other hand, an unbelieveable 11.4 % of Jelena Jankovic’s defeats are retirements while losing, which is more than one in every nine losses. Players following Jankovic are Serena Williams and Anna Chakvetadze.
A spokesperson for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, who saw the results of the research, said: “There is no evidence that WTA Tour players do anything other than compete their very best.” However, John Lloyd, British Davis Cup captain and former Australian Open finalist, claims that “really good champions don’t feel they’re going to lose until the last point, so they never throw in the towel.”
I don’t really agree with the view that players who are prone to retiring while losing are players with worse attitude and not real champions. It shows a certain part of their character, but it doesn’t make them worse people, or worse players. They are simply like that (it’s normal to lose interest when you see you have no chance to win), and after all, it’s not forbidden to withdraw while behind.