Jeers reverberated around Wimbledon on Tuesday as eight players got injured in the first round and Australian Bernard Tomic confessed to being “bored” in his opening match.
The retirements prompted boos on Centre Court, while Tomic’s behaviour angered former pros commentating on the London tennis tournament.
Meanwhile, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic suggested that Grand Slam appearance fee rules should be changed to fall in line with the rest of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tour.
Djokovic faced Martin Kližan in the first round on Tuesday. Djokovic, 30, controlled the match with a 6-3 first set before Kližan retired in the second set.
Also on Centre Court was Federer who, like Djokovic, was up by one set before his opponent, Alexandr Dolgopolov, retired in the second set.
The back-to-back retirements prompted boos and Federer sympathised, claiming the crowd paid to watch “proper tennis.”
The former world number one was asked whether he believed some players turned up for a £35,000 paycheque. “It’s a lot of money,” Federer told The Guardian. “You never know what the player’s motives are.”
He and Djokovic said Grand Slam’s could adopt new ATP rules, which mean a player can retire before a first round match and keep their prize money. A player who didn’t quite make the cut then takes their place in the competition.
“I think the new rule that the ATP has reinforced allows players who have made it to the Grand Slam main draw to get what they deserve, but at the other hand allow someone else to play if they can,” Djokovic said, according to the BBC. “I support that kind of rule.”
Tomic ‘The Tank Engine’
Meanwhile, world number 59 Tomic stoked anger on Tuesday.
The Australian has been dubbed ‘The Tank Engine’ because of the way he flops in matches. His performance against Mischa Zverev on Court 14 on Tuesday was no exception as the 24-year-old lost in straight sets.
Tomic later admitted that he called a “medical timeout” as an attempt to disrupt Zverev’s momentum, rather than because of a legitimate injury.
“I just thought I’d try to break a bit of momentum, to use that as my strategy, because I was just playing very bad and feeling bad out there,” Tomic said. “I tried to use something different maybe, you know, slow him down a bit on the serve.”
He admitted his heart was not in the game. “It was [just] a mental issue out there. I don’t know why, but, you know, I felt a little bit bored to be completely honest with you,” Tomic said.
Former Wimbledon winner Pat Cash was not impressed. “A lot of ex-players are cringing, Aussies, especially the guys who started this pro circuit. We wouldn’t be here without these guys,” he told BBC highlights show “Wimbledon Today.”
The former Australian pro suggested Tomic could be punished for his actions. Wimbledon officials can fine players £15,500 if they suspect them of “unsportsmanlike” behaviour.