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what is a walkover in tennis

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A walkover in tennis is where a player automatically progresses to the next round of a tournament, when their opponents is unable for to compete some reason. We’re going to explore the topic of what is a walkover in tennis, so you understand exactly how they work.

What Does Walkover Mean in Tennis?

what is a walkover in tennis

A walkover in a tennis tournament occurs when a player’s opponent is unable to compete in the match. Common reasons include injury, illness, or a code of conduct penalty. In such an instance, the player advances through to the next round, without having to play the match.

Walkovers in tennis often occur during a tournament, when a player picks up an injury in a match and is then unable to play in the next round. Their opponent is then given a bye, automatically gaining a win by walkover.

Examples of What is a Walkover in Tennis

To understand walkovers in tennis, it is useful to take a look at an example. The one we’re going to take a look at is about as high-profile as walkovers get. At the 2022 edition of the Wimbledon Championships tennis tournament, Rafael Nadal was due to play Nick Kyrgios in the men’s singles semi-finals.

Nadal had suffered an abdominal tear during his quarter-final match two days earlier on the Wednesday. Having trained at the All England Club the following day, the player and his team decided that he would not be fit enough to play in the semi-final on the Friday.

Nadal called a press conference on the Thursday evening, to announce that he would have to pull out of the tournament. That meant that Kyrgios received a walkover and advanced straight to the final.

Walkovers occur at all standards and levels of tennis. This example of a Wimbledon walkover demonstrates that they can even happen at the very highest level of all, when there is a Grand Slam title on the line.

Tennis Walkover Betting

Having established how the walkover rule in tennis works, you may be wondering it impacts a match that you might have bet on.

When there is a walkover in tennis betting, any wagers that you placed on the match are made void. To void a bet, is when a bookmaker cancels a wager and returns your stake, as if the bet had never been placed.

If you have bet on a player to win and they then do so by means of a walkover, it may seem unfair for the bet to be made void. Unfortunately, that is what the betting rules state. When understanding what is a walkover in tennis from a betting perspective, it can actually benefit you as a punter.

Consider the flip side. If you bet on a player and they had to pull out of a game and therefore lost via forfeit, then you’d be happy that the walkover conditions would see your bet made void and your stake returned.

The Walkover Meaning in Football

A football walkover is not as common as in tennis, but they do occasionally occur and there are rules in place for when they do. The FIFA rules on walkover state that any team that cannot play a scheduled game will lose the match 3-0.

Individual leagues and competitions may decide on a different walkover scoreline and/or also impose a further penalty, such as a league docking points. We’re now going to take a look at a couple of examples that will help to demonstrate the home / away walkover meaning.

What Does Home Walkover Mean in Football?

In 2020, during the Coronavirus pandemic, Norway were due to play a UEFA Nations League match away in Romania. Days before the match, their full-back Omar Elabdellaoui tested positive for COVID-19.

Norway’s health minister insisted that the Norwegian Football Association must stick to the official guidelines and that the squad must isolate, having had contact with a positive case. Unable to leave the country, Norway could not play their match against Romania, who were handed a 3-0 home win by UEFA.

What Does Away Walkover Mean in Football?

Back in 2019, Bolton Wanderers were due to host Brentford in an end of season EFL Championship match. Bolton’s financial problems at the time meant that they were unable to ensure that they could pay the requisite number of staff to safely host the fixture.

Had it been earlier in the campaign, the game may have been simply postponed to a later date. As it was due to take place on the final day of the season and English Football League rules stated that no match could be played after four days of the regular season ending, the game was declared a walkover. Brentford were given a 1-0 away win.

What is a Walkover in Horse Racing?

Aside from professional tennis and football, walkovers can also be found in horse racing betting and this popular equine sport. Commonly, there are a couple of reasons for walkovers happening in races under Rules and in the Point-to-Point field. These include changing ground conditions, injury or illness after final declarations and the presence of a superstar horse that puts off owners/trainers from running putting their own previously entered in the race amongst the final field.

If such situations arise and all but one runner pulls out, Jockey Club rules state that the remaining horse will have to at least ‘walk over’ the course before being awarded victory. This is where the phrase ‘walkover’ originates from. All bets on a horse race that ends up being declared a walkover, will be made void.

Examples of Walkover in Horse Racing

To help aid your understanding of walkovers in horse racing, here are a couple of examples. Back in March 2021, when racing was taking place with limited crowd numbers due to Coronavirus, a horse called Marracudja was the only runner in a race at Kempton Park. The race was intended for horses that didn’t make the cut for the Cheltenham Festival and gave Marracudja an unexpectedly easy was to end a nine-race losing run.

In November 2022, the Paul Nicholls trained horse Milan Bridge benefitted from a walkover in a novices’ limited handicap chase at Ascot. Nicholls was meant to have two horses running, but withdrew Quel Destin due to the conditions and then found that Milan Bridge was the last runner standing, he didn’t even have to jump a steeplechase fence to win.


By now, you should fully understand what is a walkover in tennis, along with in other sports. This is not something that you have to worry about when it occurs, as the bet will always be made void and your stake returned by betting sites to your account.


What does walkover mean in tennis betting?

Why is it called a walkover?

What is a home walkover in football?

How does a walkover affect your tennis bet?

What’s the difference between a walkover and retirement due to injury?

Dan Fitch
Dan Fitch
Dan Fitch

A writer and editor for some of the top names in the gambling industry for nearly 20 years, Dan also works as a freelance sports journalist for publications and websites such as ESPN, FourFourTwo and LiveScore.