Sachia Vickery (ranked No. 135) and Elise Mertens (ranked No. 127) are set to play qualifiers later this week to try and earn slots in the main draw of the Australian Open. That’s a Grand Slam, a far more alluring attraction than the Hobart International, where these two met in the second round yesterday. What do these players do after they find themselves tied up in a smaller tournament when they have much more pressing obligations ahead?
Vickery and Mertens can’t simply withdraw before the match, since that would get them removed from the list of qualifiers for the Open. Instead, they tank as soon as possible. After the very first game of the match, which Vickery ends with a second-serve ace, both players call for trainers, desperate to retire before the other:
Vickery had her calf wrapped up like a mummy to better sell the story—and look, the announcer believed it. She’ll be all better by the time the Open qualies come around. Officially, Mertens won and advanced:
The Hobart match was a joke, but it’s probably on the WTA to rework schedules or incentives so players can avoid this kind of bind. In terms of ranking points, Vickery will have to both qualify for and make it through the first round of the Open to equal what she would’ve earned for winning this match at Hobart, but that analysis ignores the glory—and money—to be had at a Grand Slam.
H/t to @TheBoiledEgg