What is a Walkover in Tennis? [Complete Guide]

What is a Walkover in Tennis

Tennis lovers flock to London each year to experience Wimbledon, the annual prestigious tennis tournament known for its rich history and tradition.

The excitement, however, can sometimes overshadow instances when a player moves on without even stepping on the court.

Tennis refers to this phenomenon as a “walkover.” Let’s explore What is a Walkover in Tennis and why it matters at Wimbledon.

What is a Walkover In Tennis?

What is a Walkover in Tennis

If a tennis player is unable to participate in a match, their opponent advances automatically to the next round.

Injuries, illnesses, and personal circumstances are among the reasons for this.

Walkovers result in a victory without a single point being played by the player who receives them.

Why is it Called a Walkover?

Originally, walkovers were used in horse racing. There were instances when a dominant horse caused the rider to walk over the finish line in an effectively one-horse race. 

There are many sports that use the word, and it describes an easy victory in a match or contest. 

There is, however, a specific meaning to tennis, which is different from other sports.

Types of Walkovers in Tennis

What is a Walkover in Tennis

There are several reasons why players may choose to walk off a tennis match. Among the highest levels of professional tennis, injuries are the most common way to retire. 

There is, however, the possibility that players may walk over at the lower levels of the game if they have overlapping tournament schedules.


A walkover is most commonly caused by an injury. A player who sustains an injury may be able to make it through the match, especially if it occurs late in the game or adrenaline is acting as a natural painkiller. 

In spite of the match win, players may feel their injury has worsened and will hinder them significantly in their next match once the excitement wears off. As a result, the player pulls out of the next match to avoid worsening their injury.

Scheduling Issues

The possibility of playing their scheduled match overlaps with another, less common reason for a walkover. 

There is a possibility that a player’s schedule will overlap between two tournaments at the recreational or even lower professional levels. 

Players may, under these circumstances, withdraw from a match towards the end of a tournament so that they can play in a more prestigious event the following week. 

Tennis players will occasionally withdraw from one tournament to play another when prize money or ranking points are on the line.

You can also check Monte Carlo Masters Prize Money 2024

Walkovers at Wimbledon

Over the course of Wimbledon’s long and storied history, walkovers have been commonplace.

In the tournament, walkovers are relatively rare, but they do happen. There are specific rules for handling situations like these at Wimbledon, the organization behind the game.

Players who withdraw before the tournament begins usually have their spot filled by a lucky loser, a player who lost their final qualifying round.

A walkover, however, results in the withdrawing player’s opponent advancing to the next round if a walkover occurs during the tournament.

The impact of walkovers on a tournament can be significant when high-profile players are involved.

As a result, players receiving walkovers may gain an unexpected advantage over those not receiving them. In addition, walkovers can disappoint fans eagerly anticipating a thrilling game.

It is important to remember that walkovers are an integral part of tennis, even though they may not be the most exciting part.

The walkover occurs when a player can’t compete, which means the opponent advances without playing a single point.

The Most Famous Walkovers in Tennis

What is a Walkover in Tennis

The professional tennis world has seen some pretty high-profile walkovers, despite millions of dollars, ranking points, and big trophies on the line!

Roger Federer ATP Finals 2014

A high-profile walkover in men’s tennis was Roger Federer’s at the 2014 ATP finals due to persistent back pain. The match with Novak Djokovic was supposed to be a thriller, but Federer was unable to compete after defeating Davis Cup teammate Stan Wawrinka in three sets in the semi-finals. 

Consequently, Djokovic won the final, and Murray played an exhibition match instead.

Rafael Nadal French Open 2016

Similarly, Rafael Nadal also withdrew from the tournament. When Nadal reached the 2nd round of the 2016 French Open, he was forced to withdraw due to a wrist injury. 

A year later, Novak Djokovic won the French Open and became the first man to win it and beat Andy Murray in the final.

Rafael Nadal Wimbledon 2022

It was also Rafa Nadal who walked over at Wimbledon 2022. The Spaniard withdrew from his semi-final against Nick Kyrgios due to an abdominal tear he suffered against Taylor Fritz in the quarterfinals. 

In the final, Nick walked over Novak Djokovic, who beat him in four sets.

Milos Raonic Miami 2016

ATP World Tour tennis player Milos Raonic is known for his hard work. It must be noted, however, that Milos has suffered a few injuries in the course of training and conditioning. 

A hamstring injury forced Raonic to withdraw from a match with Andy Murray at the Miami Open in 2016. Despite this victory, Murray lost in three close sets to a determined Grigor Dimitrov.

Nancy Richey 1966 Australian Open 

During the 1966 Australian Open, Nancy Richey had one of the most unusual walkovers in women’s tennis. 

In the match, Richely was to play Margaret Court, a 24-time grand slam champion. As a result of Richely’s withdrawal prior to the match, Court won the match.

Roger Federer French Open 2021 

In 2021, Roger Federer played in one of his last clay court events at the French Open, beginning his comeback trail. Following three rounds on dirt, the great Swiss player was forced to withdraw from the tournament because of ongoing knee injuries. 

Novak Djokovic would proceed to defeat Matteo Berrettini in the following rounds, giving Berrettini the walkover. The final was won by Djokovic from a two-set deficit to Tsitsipas!

Naomi Osaka Western & Southern Open 2020

A very entertaining match was expected to take place between Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka at the Western & Southern Open in 2020. 

Osaka has, however, decided not to play her semi-final match in protest against the shooting of Jacob Blake by US police, one of the most unusual withdrawals in tennis history. A number of high-profile sporting events were suspended as a result of civil unrest following the killing. 

You can also read Longest Tennis Rallies

How a Walkover Affects Tournaments

What is a Walkover in Tennis

Organizers can lose competitive integrity if a walkover disrupts the tournament schedule.

A player may end up with more rest than their opponents, giving them an edge in subsequent rounds. Fairness must be ensured by tournament organizers when it comes to walkovers.

How to Improve Your Game

Overall, Walkovers in Tennis are not that common, but when they do occur, the player receiving them gets a well-deserved break. A week-long, best-of-three-set tournament can be disrupted by this sometimes. You can also read about break point in tennis by clicking here.

It is, however, possible for players to be injured and unable to compete, and have no alternative but to withdraw from the game, giving the advantage to their opponent. 

Our goal with this article was to provide you with an understanding of what a walkover in tennis is, why they occurs, and some examples of the most memorable walkovers in tennis history. 

You can also read a guide on How To Put Tennis Balls On A Walker?


Does a walkover count as a win in tennis?

Walkovers are not recorded on players’ records because the match did not take place. If a player receives a walkover, he is still eligible to collect the prize money for reaching the next round.

What is the difference between a walkover and a withdrawal?

During the warm-up for the first match, withdrawals can occur before the first match is played. When a player completes a match and cannot continue with the next match in an event, they walkover.

Why did Djokovic get a walkover?

As a result of a left groin injury, Novak Djokovic advanced to the finals of the Sony Open Tennis in Key Biscayne on Friday following the withdrawal of his semi-final opponent Kei Nishikori of Japan (20). The third round was also a walkover for Djokovic when Florian Mayer withdrew.


To conclude, walkovers are a unique and sometimes controversial part of tennis. While it may provide an easy path to victory for one player, it often causes frustration and disappointment for the other.

To maintain tennis integrity, walkovers must be managed properly.

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