ATP ranking | How are the ranking points awarded?

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ATP ranking | How are the ranking points awarded?

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SportsCafe Desk

02/09/2017

The way the ATP Rankings work is not common knowledge. People believe it's hard to understand the ranking system in tennis, while in truth, it's probably the easiest rankings systems among all sports. Here's a simple, easy-to-understand explanation of how the ATP rankings work.

To understand how ATP Rankings works, you first need to know the different kinds of tennis tournaments there are. The Majors, also known as the Grand Slams are the highest level of tournaments in tennis. Although these majors are not ATP tournaments, players get ATP ranking points by playing in these.

There are 4 different majors held every year. The Australian Open in Melbourne, the French Open in Paris, Wimbledon in London and the US Open in New York. Players get ranking points based on how far they go in these tournaments. The winner gets 2000 points and here's how other players get points. 

  • Runner-up: 1200
  • Semi-Finalist: 720
  • Quarter-Finalist: 360
  • R4: 180
  • R3: 90
  • R2: 45
  • R1: 10

Then there are three levels of ATP Tournaments. 

  1. ATP World Tour Masters 1000
  2. ATP World Tour 500 series
  3. ATP World Tour 250 series

As their names suggest, the maximum points a player can take from these tournaments is 1000, 500, and 250. The total number of ATP Masters 1000 tournaments is 9, and most top players usually play all of them, while they generally pick and choose the Masters 500 and Masters 250 tournaments they play in according to their schedules.

Here's how the ranking points are distributed for these tournaments.

Masters 1000

  • Winner: 1000
  • Runner-up: 600
  • Semi-finalist: 360
  • Quater-finalist: 180
  • R16: 90
  • R32: 45
  • R64: 10 

500 Series

  • Winner: 500
  • Runner-up: 300
  • Semi-finalist: 180
  • Quater-finalist: 90
  • R16: 45

250 Series

  • Winner: 250
  • Runner-up: 150
  • Semi-finalist: 90
  • Quater-finalist: 45
  • R16: 20

Now let's come to the other important part of the ranking system - dropping points. So the ATP Rankings work on a 52-week period. That means the total ranking points a player has is the cumulative sum of the ranking points he has accumulated in all the tournaments he has played over last 52 weeks.

For example, if a player has 6500 points at the beginning of the US Open, and he won the US Open last year, he'd have gained 2000 points by winning last year. And let's assume this time he does not win the championship, but finished second. So he'll gain 1200 points from his runner-up finish, but lose 2000 from his win last year. And the total number of points he will have after the end of the US Open would be 6500-2000+1200=5700. That is, he'll have a net loss of 800 points because he failed to match his performance from the previous year. This addition and subtraction of points always happens on the Monday after the tournament finishes.

Apart from the usual race in the rankings, another race the players on the ATP tour have is the race to end in the top 8 places for the year. At the end of every year, the World Tour Finals are played. This tournament is different from all the others in that only the Top 8 players of the year are allowed to participate here. The first 7 players are selected simply on the basis of ranking points accumulated. The player ranked 8th usually gets to play unless there is a player who has won a Grand Slam that year but ranked between 9 and 20. In that case, the Grand Slam winner takes the last spot.

The World Tour Finals, unlike any other tournament, does not have a knockout format. The 8 players are divided into two groups of four each. They then play a round-robin league and the two top players from each group go into the semifinals. The ranking points also have a different kind of distribution. 200 points are given for every win in the round-robin league, 400 for a semifinal win, and 500 for a win the final. Thus, the champion can take home a maximum of 1500 points if he goes through the tournament undefeated.

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