TORONTO – There’s nothing in the rules to prevent it, and so Mikhail Youzhny is in the second round of the Rogers Cup.
The Russian veteran, who is retiring after the ATP Tour event in St. Petersburg next month, got there without playing a single point in the final round of qualifying – or in the first round of the main draw.
Nice work if you can get it.
Youzhny, the No. 13 seed, won his first-round match in qualifying, 6-3, 6-4 over Canadian wild card Alexis Galarneau.
He was to face No. 6 seed Evgeny Donskoy, a 28-year-old fellow Muscovite.
Except … he gave Donskoy a walkover.
The official reason given: left calf strain.
Clouding the picture in this one is that Youzhny and Donskoy share a coach, the venerable Boris Sobkin.
And their relationship goes well beyond that. The two practice together often.
Sobkin wasn’t on hand last year as both Russians played in Dubai. And so after Donskoy defeated Youzhny in the first round of the main draw, Youzhny was the one supporting Donskoy. And he ended up beating reigning Australian Open champion Roger Federer.
In this interview, Donskoy said he preferred to face Federer than meet his friend Youzhny. And when he looked at the qualifiers’ spots in that Dubai draw, he would rather have faced Tomas Berdych than Youzhny.
That, even though Donskoy has won their last four encounters. That includes a Youzhny retirement in Rotterdam, a five-setter at the Australian Open and this week’s walkover.
In the end, it worked out well for both.
Donskoy upset another Russian, youngster Andrey Rublev, in the first round in Toronto and will face No. 4 seed Kevin Anderson Wednesday – weather permitting.
Bye to the second round for Youzhny
Youzhny was the third lucky loser to enter the Rogers Cup draw this week, after Mackenzie McDonald and Mirza Basic (who got Novak Djokovic in the first round).
But he’s the only one to get a pass straight into the second round, because he replaced top-eight seed Juan Martin del Potro.
He was facing unseeded Robin Haase on Wednesday, although the match was interrupted early in the second set by some significant rain showers.
And he looked to have recovered well.
Donskoy will take home $35,055 US even if he loses to Anderson.
Youzhny will earn his final-run qualifying money $4,360), plus the difference between the first-round money the tournament will have to play del Potro and whatever he ends up earning. So a minimum of more than $20,000.
But according to the ATP rules (if we interpreted them accurately), he would only earn first-round ranking points even if he technically loses in the second round.
All of it is kosher according to the rules.
You’d think a player who gave his opponent a walkover in the qualifying would automatically be disqualified from accepting a lucky loser’s spot, for obvious reasons that he was, you know, too injured to play.
Not the case, though.
Sweden’s Elias Ymer, seeded No. 14 in the qualifying, also gave No. 7 seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert a walkover in the final round of qualifying.
Ymer might been ahead of unseeded Basic on the lucky-loser list, but he didn’t play.
Yoshihito Nishioka, a late alternate into the qualifying, came back from a set down in both his matches to make the main draw. But after he lost the first set of his first-round main draw match against Pablo Carreño Busta 6-0, he retired.
The official reason given: fatigue.