Janko Tipsarevic and the Masters of Retirement

When Janko Tipsarevic retired six points away from defeat against Jerzy Janowicz on Friday, many tennis fans were … unsurprised.   The Serb has quite the record when it comes to quitting early, having retired from matches at all four Grand Slams, the Olympics, and nearly half of the Masters 1000 events.  He has retired on every surface and in every round.

It’s hardly a record to be proud of.  Tipsarevic’s departure on Friday was his 17th career tour-level retirement–about 1 in every 25 matches over his 434-match career.  His “retirement rate” of 3.9% is the highest among active players with at least 400 matches.  It’s more than double the tour average of about 1.5%.

But that “at least 400” hides some context.  Expand the field to a still-respectable minimum of 200 tour-level matches and we have the following leaders in career retirement rate:

Player              Matches  Ret Rate  
Sergiy Stakhovsky       209      4.8%  
Michael Llodra          370      4.6%  
Yen Hsun Lu             222      4.5%  
Janko Tipsarevic        434      3.9%  
Denis Istomin           211      3.8%  
Paul Henri Mathieu      456      3.7%  
Filippo Volandri        367      3.5%  
Potito Starace          347      3.5%  
Xavier Malisse          531      3.0%  
Viktor Troicki          300      3.0%

Tipsy is still a standout, yet not an egregious one.  Both Paul Henri Mathieu and Xavier Malisse have retired in three of the four slams.  Michael Llodra has dropped out of Wimbledon three times, and the US Open twice.  (Not to mention retiring against Jo Wilfried Tsonga three times, and perhaps more remarkably, against both Tipsarevic and Mathieu.)

For a fuller view of the state of ATP retirement–including the 22 members of the top 100 who have never done so–click here for a sortable table with more fun stats.  (A few numbers are different than above, because my full database doesn’t yet include 2012 Bercy.)  Janko may quit early, but that doesn’t mean you have to.

2 thoughts on “Janko Tipsarevic and the Masters of Retirement”

  1. I think you should look only on losses, since winning players tend to finish the game and giving WO to the next opponent…

    1. Depends what you want to measure. If the goal is to measure a player’s health consistency, you want to look at all matches — how often did he show up to play, but was unable to complete the match? If the goal is about *why* players are losing matches, or perhaps to identify which players are the type to walk away rather than play it out, then retirements divided by losses may be more appropriate.

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