What Is Walkover In Tennis? [Meaning and Impact]

By Lin
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what is walkover in tennis

You may be asking yourself what a walkover is in tennis and how it affects your match play moving forward. Whether you are the player who needs to call off a game or are at the other end of the spectrum, this is something to try and avoid during tennis events.

When a walkover occurs in tennis, one of the players cannot play in their scheduled match. For example, your opposing player gets a walkover win if you get sick, injured, or have a scheduling conflict and cannot play. According to section ten of the ATP rulebook, winners of walkovers receive points as if the match had been played.

Are you curious about what counts as a walkover and what to do if you get one during a game? Keep reading; there’s more to learn!

Table of Contents

Why Is It Called A Walkover?

Walkovers get their name from a somewhat literal play-by-play of what causes them to happen. When a walkover occurs, the forfeiting player “walks over” to the net to inform their opponent or the chair umpire that they do not wish to play in their scheduled match. As we said, this is more of a last resort, as neither player wants to forfeit the game.

In the event of a walkover win, the remaining player gains two points. If they’re playing in a quick league, the walkover earns one point.

These typically happen when one tennis player becomes sick, seriously injured, or has something that requires them to leave the court. You don’t want to call these regularly, as you can build a negative reputation for yourself, so keep that in mind.

It might also be best to initiate a walkover between sets in your tennis events if you suspect something isn’t right.

The Most Famous Walkovers in Tennis

2014 atp finals roger federer
Photo Credit: Twitter

One of the most famous walkovers in tennis was during the 2014 ATP finals, when Roger Federer, who was suffering from persistent back issues, had to call off his match against Novak Djokovic. This match was set to bring the rivals against each other again, so understandably, people weren’t happy with Federer’s decision.

Another high-profile walkover happened between Federer and Djokovic in 2019, when Federer suffered an injury in the fifth set, deeming him unable to continue playing.

Which Professional Tennis Player Has Received The Most Walkovers?

Photo Credit: Twitter

Roger Federer takes the crown for most walkovers and has received 14 during his 24-year professional career. The first came when former World No. 4 Thomas Enqvist pulled out ahead of a last-16 meeting with the Swiss at the 2002 Rotterdam Open.

He’s had four walkovers in Majors, five in Masters 1000 tournaments, three in ATP 500 events, and two at ATP 250 level.

Do Walkovers Affect Your UTR?

Whenever you get a walkover in tennis, this doesn’t affect your Universal Tennis Rating (UTR). Because the rating system is based purely on scores, it does not consider defaults or walkovers. Therefore, if you get one: you do not have to worry. One thing to note, however, is that walkovers are shown on your player’s profile page alongside your other scores.

What Are The Different Types Of Walkovers In Tennis?

Regarding the various kinds of walkovers in tennis, a few are applicable during a match. According to the USTA Mississippi, tennis players can qualify for a walkover in these situations:

  • Injury
  • Illness
  • Personal injury

Your absence will be considered a default if you do not fall into one of these three categories. Additionally, if a player decides not to play their first match but is allowed to play in the consolation, the first match is treated as a walkover.

It’s not uncommon for tennis players to get injured, often causing them to initiate walkovers.

Similar Terms To Walkovers

Now that you know what a walkover is, here are a few other calls/definitions for tennis players to be aware of.


This occurs when a tennis player decides not to play all matches in an event. Typically, you would withdraw only before (or during the warm-up for) your first match in an event. If you need to withdraw from a tennis match/tournament/event, your reason would be an injury, illness, or personal emergency. These can also be made due to a tournament administration error.


Retirement is when a tennis player cannot complete their match or resume a suspended match due to injury, illness, personal emergency, or adult decision. Refusing to play for any other reason will be considered a default.


When a default happens, the referee does not allow a player to start or resume a match. Examples of defaults are when an athlete does not show up or is defaulted for lateness. You will get defaulted via the Point Penalty System.


If a tennis player is not eligible for an event, this is considered a disqualification. The referee will remove the player from the match or event, prohibiting them from playing.


Do You Get Ranking Points For A Walkover?

Yes, ATP players will get ranking points for moving to the next round despite not winning a match. As long as you aren’t the person initiating a walkover, you will get the points for your ranking. It’s also worth noting that a player earns more ranking points for a walkover win in an ATP tournament than in a WTA tournament.

What Is The Difference Between A Walkover And A Withdrawal?

In a walkover, a player will call this after an event starts, while a withdrawal typically happens before it begins. If someone cannot play, but a match has already begun: they receive a walkover.

How Many Points Do I Get For A Walkover In Tennis?

When you receive a walkover win, you’re awarded two points. However, in a short-format league where both players get a point for completing the match, you don’t receive the extra point.

Is A Walkover Considered A Win?

Yes and no. When you receive a walkover “win,” this essentially deems you the default winner of the match, progressing you to the next. It will be recorded as a walkover win on your record, so it doesn’t add or take away from your credibility or ranking whatsoever.

Final Thoughts

This article discussed what qualifies as a walkover and when these typically happen during a tennis event. Generally, walkovers should only be initiated if someone is hurt, sick, or cannot make it to a match for a personal emergency, or in the worst case: someone can withdraw from a match before it starts.

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Editor of All Points Tennis and a huge Roger Federer fan, I've spent countless hours studying his moves, especially his forehand and one-handed backhand. I also love writing about all the technical stuff like rackets and strings. I'm super pumped to share my insights with fellow tennis lovers here.