Watch two athletes race to...fake an injury and lose.
In the northern hemisphere’s winter, Australia becomes the hub of professional tennis. Later this week, qualifiers for the Australian Open, a Grand Slam tournament kick off. Both Sachia Vickery (ranked #135) and Elise Mertens (#127) are slated for qualifying matches in the hopes that they’re able to advance to the field of contenders.
There’s just one problem – yesterday the two athletes were “stuck” in the second round of the Hobart International, a smaller tournament that serves as a sort of warm-up for the Australian Open. Should they advance, they’ll likely conflict with their Australian Open qualifying matches, which means they can kiss the bigger tourney goodbye.
Logic says the smart move would be to just bow out of the match, but withdrawing in the Hobart mid-tourney would disqualify them from the Australian Open.
So what are they to do?
Well, as we saw yesterday, they both threw sportsmanship out the window and raced to fake injuries as early in the match as possible to lose, guaranteeing their availability for the those Aussie Open qualifiers. You can watch a funny video recap here, courtesy of Yahoo Sports.
As you can see, Sachia Vickery won the race to lose, wrapping up her leg in a towel to really sell the sham injury. As the tweet below shows, she actually did so just one game into the first set. A game she won, it warrants mentioning.
If the announcer, the judge, and the tourney officials were hip to this strategy (and how could they not be?), they played it pretty straight for the sake of decorum.
#Vickery retires leading 1-0 in the first set of her second round match. #Mertens progresses to the quarterfinals #HobartTennis— Hobart International (@Hobart International)1484016250.0
As was expected, Mertens’ reluctant “success” in this match has resulted in her withdrawal from the Australian Open:
Let’s all band together in wishing Vickery a quick recovery. Maybe, say, by Thursday or Friday of this week?
As much fun as it is to slag these players for this sham, it’s hard not to blame the WTA for allowing this conflict to happen. The reason ridiculous situations like this don’t happen more often is because sports schedule their matches to avoid things like this. Of course, nobody’s about to move Christmas or New Year’s to accommodate the Hobart International, and since the Aussie Open has more allure, it’s not the one that needs to concede. I guess that means the Hobart’s stuck in the middle, having to contend with fake injuries so that players can be available for the REAL tourney later on.