Tennis Walkover

Last Modified Feb 08, 2022 02:21 GMT

A walkover in tennis is one of the possible outcomes for a given encounter, which in essence results in unopposed victory for one of the participating players/doubles teams.

Walkovers are awarded to a player/teamduring any stage of a tournamentif their opponent(s) forfeits a match or has been disqualified prior to the start of a given encounter.

Let’s take a hypothetical quarterfinal encounter involving players P and T to better explain how a walkover works. If player T decides to forfeit the encounter because of an illness or previously unidentified injury or any other reason that is keeping them from playing, player P will receive a ‘walkover’. They will then move into the semifinal round of the tournament without having to step out on the court.

Walkovers are different from mid-match retirements and defaults as the latter two happen after a match has started. Unlike the latter two, walkovers do not affect a player’s win-loss record as they never stepped out on the court.

When are walkovers usually awarded?

In case a player decides to withdraw from a tournament well before the first-round action is scheduled to start, they are replaced in the draw by alternate players (players who were next on the entry cut-off list) or lucky losers (players who lose in the last round of the qualification matches). Hence, walkovers are rarely ever awarded for first-round encounters.

Walkovers are more common at the latter stages of a tournament as swapping an injured or unavailable opponent is no longer an option. In these cases, the opponent is declared the unopposed winner i.e. given the walkover.

Walkovers are fairly common in tennis, given the unpredictable nature of the tour. Players often find themselves unfit to participate in matches for varied reasons including picking up an injury or an illness mid-tournament or not recovering in time between matches among others.

What are some of the more talked-about walkovers in tennis?

Roger Federer’s injury forced him to forfeit his round-of-16 match against Matteo Berrettini at the 2021 Roland Garros, giving the Italian a free pass into the quarterfinals.

Petra Kvitova was forced to give a walkover to Elena Vesnina in the second-round of the 2021 Roland Garros after suffering a leg injury during a press conference after her first-round win.

Also at the 2021 Roland Garros, Naomi Osaka gave Ana Bogdan a second-round walkover citing her mental health.

Naomi Osaka gave Victoria Azarenka a walkover for their final encounter at the 2020 Western & Southern Open, handing her the title without having to play. Osaka cited fatigue and an inability to have recovered from her last encounter as the reason for the walkover.