Ever wondered how the ATP men’s tennis rankings work? Find out in this article written by OnCourtAdvantage.
The ATP World Tour rankings can be quite difficult to follow and understand. There are a number of rules, special exceptions, penalties, things that apply to some and are different for others and a bonus points event. Just to name a few!
In order to keep this post short and sweet I will focus on the main factors that determine the rankings in professional tennis.
A large number of people follow the world’s elite or highest ranked players so I’ll zoom in on what applies to a Top 30 player.
The current ranking system calculates how many points a player earns over a 12-month period. This 12-month period is not a calendar year but a rolling 12-month period. Currently the rankings represent the 12-month period of ranking points tallied from 17 January 2011 through to 16 January 2012.
Rankings are updated weekly throughout the year, except when a grand slam is underway they are updated after the tournament.
How each player earns a particular ranking number like World No.1 is based purely on whether his total ranking points tally is greater than other players.
As at Monday 16 January Novak Djokovic is World No.1 due to having the highest points tally, 13,630 and Rafael Nadal is No.2 because he has the second highest tally, 9,595.
The trick is that it is NOT just the total points earned. There is a system called the “Best 18” which is used to arrive at a players’ ranking points total.
In terms of calculating a players ranking, a best result is defined as the highest number of ranking points earned in a tournament.
It does not factor in the perceived quality by the public of the tournaments or the calibre of opponent he defeats. For example, winning an ATP Tour 500 tournament like Memphis will yield more ranking points than making the quarter finals of a Grand Slam. Australian Open quarter finalists Juan Martin del Potro, Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori and David Ferrer all earn 360 ATP points.
For the players in the Top 30 their best 18 tournament results must include (even if it is NOT one of their best tournament results): all four Grand Slam results and eight of the nine ATP Tour Masters 1000 results (not including Monte Carlo) unless the player plays all 9 Masters 1000 events then he can have his best eight count.
The Grand Slams and the 8 Masters 1000 results account for 12 tournaments. The remaining 6 results MUST come from the player’s best four ATP 500 events and his best two ATP 250 results.
For the Top 8 players who qualify for the year-end ATP Tour Finals and any player who plays as an alternate, they are rewarded for their calendar year results with the bonus of having the points they earn at the ATP Tour Finals added in addition to their best 18.
In each of the abovementioned tournaments the number of ranking points a player wins depends on how many rounds he progresses through and what category that particular tournament has been graded.
The higher the tournament is graded or categorised the more ranking points are awarded in each round of that event. The further a player wins through a tournament, the greater number of ranking points he receives for each victory.
The highest category events are the Grand Slams.
- A Grand Slam singles champion earns 2,000 ATP ranking points.
- The next highest total possible is 1,500 ranking points to an undefeated ATP Tour Finals champion like Roger Federer in London 2011.
- The next highest possible totals for the singles champions are as the tournament category suggests Masters 1000 (1,000 points), ATP 500 (500 points) and ATP 250 (250 points).
Andy Murray is ranked right up there with Federer and Nadal due to the fact that his best 6 results in 2011 were 1,200 for being the runner-up in last year’s Australian Open final, winning 1,000 points each with the Shanghai and Cincinnati Masters 1000 titles and earning 720 points 3 times by making the semi finals of Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open.
As you can see, achieving your best possible ranking requires you to consistently win deep into the most prestigious 12 tournaments and to play a full tournament schedule. There are many other factors like the veteran’s rule, Davis Cup points and having a compulsory zero included in your best 18 if you skip a required event. However, I have covered the main factors to that make up most of the ATP men’s rankings picture.
Do you have any further queries about the ATP Tour Rankings? If so, please leave a comment below.
Visit OnCourtAdvantage.com for coverage of both the WTA and ATP Tour tournaments throughout the year.
Also have a look at the ATP Grand Slam Ranking Points for each round.