ATP Announce Rankings Adjustment due to COVID-19

Novak Djokovic sits atop the ATP rankings

The ATP have announced that they will adjust their rankings when tennis returns from the suspension caused by the coronavirus. The ATP froze their rankings on March 16th meaning that players did not drop points for the tournaments that were not played this year, including the Sunshine Double. That also meant that the weeks whilst the rankings were frozen did not count towards players’ totals, notably leaving world #1 Novak Djokovic stuck on 282 weeks in possession of the top spot.

But with tennis now set to return in August, the ATP have elected to adjust their usual rankings system. Typically, a players ranking is determined by their point tally from 18 events that they have played over the last 52 weeks, with players mandated to play in eight of the nine Masters, the four Grand Slams and four ATP 500 events if they are eligible. Now, however, players will instead be able to take their best 18 results from the last 22 months, instead of the usual 52 weeks.

The intended impact of this adjustment is to allow players to find their feet in the early weeks of the season, without risking dramatic drops in their ranking point total, as well as to cope with the severely adjusted schedule. Rafael Nadal, for example, faced having to defend both his French Open and US Open crowns in the first weeks of the returned season, whilst Djokovic’s 2000 point haul at Wimbledon was preserved by the tournament’s cancellation.

Players who are unable to play due to travel requirements or ill-health will also be protected by the new system. However, players will not be able to count the same event twice in their point totals. For example, a player who competed at the Madrid Open in both 2019 and 2020 will have to take the best point total from their two entries. Any points they do win in 2020 will stay as part of their total either until the corresponding week in 2021 or until the corresponding event is next played.

This should allow the ATP rankings to maintain their usual ‘week-to-week’ feel, whilst also accounting for the dramatic change in circumstances brought about by a worldwide pandemic. As of this article’s publication, it has not yet been announced whether the WTA intends to make similar adjustments when their tour resumes in August. But it would not be a surprise to see the women’s tour alter their rankings system.

The ATP Finals are intended to go ahead as normal, with the eight best players according to the ATP Rankings qualifying at the end of the season. The ATP Race to London, however, will not be promoted by the ATP, as this would likely not accurately reflect the achievements of the players after the season was so severely curtailed. Similarly, the ATP’s Race to Milan, used to highlight the players in contention for a berth at the NextGen Finals, will not be promoted.

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