ATP Tennis Men’s Rankings: Roger Federer

The ATP rankings for men’s tennis for this week of 28 February appear to have an error in Roger Federer’s singles ranking points total. Federer is listed as having 7,965 ATP ranking points using the ATP World Tour rankings formula.

Federer’s runner-up result in Dubai that earned him 300 points appears to have not yet been added to his total. By OnCourt Advantage’s calculations Federer should have 8,265 points. Federer has the Top 30 player version of the “Best 18” formula applied to him because he finished in the Top 30 rankings at the end of 2010.

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A Top 30 player must include all 4 Grand Slam singles results, the best 8 of the 9 Masters 1000 results, the best 4 of the ATP 500 results and the best 2 ATP 250 results. In addition, any player who earns points in the ATP Tour Finals can add those points to his tally as an additional tournament to make a “Best 19”.

A breakdown of Federer’s points:

  1. 1,500 for going undefeated and winning the 2010 ATP World Tour Finals in London;
  2. 2,160 from the Grand Slams;
  3. 3,305 from his best ATP World Tour Masters 1000 singles results;
  4. 800 from best 4 ATP World Tour 500 singles results; and
  5. 500 from best 2 ATP World Tour 250.

Grand Slams: Federer made the semi finals at the 2011 Australian Open semis (720) and at the 2010 US Open (720). Federer made the quarter finals at Roland Garros (360) and Wimbledon in 2010 (360) for a total of 2,160 points (720+720+360+360).

ATP World Tour Masters 1000: Federer only played 8 Masters 1000 tournaments in the past 12 months so each of those 8 results make up his best 8 results. Federer earned 1,000, 600, 600,600, 360, 90, 45, and 10 to make 3,305 points from Masters 1000 events. The following is a breakdown of his Masters 1000 points:

  1. 1,000 for winning Cincinnati;
  2. 600 each for being the runner-up in Shanghai;
  3. 600 each for being the runner-up in Canada;
  4. 600 each for being the runner-up in Madrid;
  5. 360 for making the semi finals in Paris;
  6. 90 for making the round of 16 in Miami;
  7. 45 for losing in the 3rd round in Indian Wells; and
  8. 10 points for losing in his 1st match in Rome.

ATP World Tour 500: Federer has only played in two 500 category tournaments in the past 12 months. Federer earned 500 points for winning Basel in 2010 and 300 from being the runner-up in Dubai, which makes 800. Federer gets a zero for his 3rd and 4th result for his best 4 from the 500 category to make his best 4 results (500+300+0+0).

ATP World Tour 250: Federer achieved the maximum of 500 points by winning two 250 category titles i.e. Doha in January this year and Stockholm in October 2010. If Federer plays any 250 category tournaments before Stockholm in 2011 and wins the title he will NOT be able to add any points to his ranking total. This is why Novak Djokovic did not increase his ranking points total by defeating Federer in the final to defend his points in Dubai last week.

Possible explanation: Federer has been penalised with a zero for not playing the 4 ATP World Tour 500 category events during the past 12 months. Maybe his “Best 19” is 7,965 and not his actual tally from “Best 19” results of 8,265 is because the ATP makes the three lots of zero stand for a full 12 months.

If this is the case, then after the Hamburg tournament concludes in July this year then Federer will be able to replace that 12-month zero penalty with his 300 from Dubai. OCA will check into this further and confirm if the penalties stand for a full 12 months or until a better than zero singles result is achieved at a 500 event. The result will appear here ASAP!

Further research: After checking through the fine print it seems the rules are not very clear. One thing is for sure, your “best 4 ATP 500 results” is a very misleading way to describe what really occurs. Federer’s points tally is correct at 7,965 because the zero penalty rule does apply for a full 12 months in Federer’s case.

Zero penalties: Federer has three zero penalties in effect at the moment all in his ATP 500 category points section. He has a zero for Hamburg from July 2010, another for Washington from August 2010 and the third from Tokyo from October 2010. It seems that the zero penalties in Federer’s case all stand for 12 months from when they were incurred. In terms of having 3 zero penalties it is very unclear because the rules state that more than one zero penalty CAN replace the next best positive result for each tournament withdrawal/penalty.

If Federer has his “next best positive result replaced then his zero for Tokyo will stay until the 2011 Tokyo event concludes, the zero for Hamburg cancels Dubai and the zero for Washington COULD cancel his 500 from Basel in November 2010. The 500 from Basel have been included in his ranking though. Therefore, you could speculate that Federer will not get his 300 points from Dubai after Hamburg concludes because the 2nd zero (together with Tokyo), from Washington will cancel Dubai still!

This means after Washington 2011 concludes Federer should have his 300 points for Dubai added to his ranking points tally because his zero penalties from Hamburg and Washington will expire. The reason is not so much that his 12 months is served for one specific penalty but because he will no longer have more than one zero penalty in effect!

BOTTOM LINE: The ranking system is far too complex and a lot of work needs to be done to communicate it more effectively so that it is EASILY understood! OCA will write a series of posts about the rankings in both men’s and women’s tennis in order to help improve everyone’s understanding of the ranking systems for both tours.

Stay tuned to this tennis website for coverage of every major women’s and men’s tennis tournament on both the WTA and ATP Tours. For details about the next Grand Slams click-> Roland Garros 2011: May 17-June 5 and Wimbledon 2011: June 13-July 3.

© photo credit: 6cab



  1. Hi,

    I’ve been wondering about the ranking system all since Dubai, and now finally I get it – thanks a lot! I agree with everyone here, the ranking system isn’t very well explained by ATP, and perhaps it’s too complicated.

  2. Thank you for addressing this issue; I have been wondering since the day the rankings came out but have seen no one else explain.
    I assume you are correct about the zero pointers but the rule makes no sense — it isn’t only difficult to understand, it is inconsistent with how other rules are applied. I don’t agree with forcing people to play but okay, they want four so you get a zero for any fewer than 4. But now, he has 2 so he should be assessed 2 zero pointers? For the best of ‘others’ something can roll off when something else replaces it prior to its 52nd week on. Why is this seemingly on a calendar year but everything else is on a rolling 52 week year.
    And why didn’t they assign him a zero pointer for Dubai last year? – then it could have come off now and been replaced. He could have fulfilled his four with Dubai, Rotterdam, and Memphis and then Basel late in the year. Why weren’t any of those assigned to him as zero pointers. In fact, they specify one has to be after US Open, so if they want them evenly spread thru the year, at least one of the one he ‘missed’ should have been early.
    Who decides which phantom 500s he gets assigned to (and therefore when they come off). And therefore whether he is in danger of losing his #2 ranking this week – those 300 points would have been a real nice cushion!
    It also appears that Monte Carlo is a magic tournament — it still gets the 1000 points although usually weaker field – and it apparently can count as one of your 500s. No wonder Federer just announced he will play – I wonder if that will give him any points as he earns them or only later?? Bizarre! But again, thanks for addressing this.

  3. You are definitely right. Everything needs to be thoroughly explained so all involved can fully understand it. I know a lot of people want to play for their country and are patriotic! But some will find out that they don’t get points in the lower grades and will decide not to play. I believe this will become a regular occurrence, especially with the top 20 to 30 players with their nations being in the 2nd tier grades.


  4. Thank you for explaining the ranking system as a keen tennis fan I found it very easy to follow and now I have a better understanding of the way the rankings work.
    I would be interested to know when any amendments if any are made.


  5. Dear Brad,

    Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment. I think that either the system for calculation needs to be streamlined to make it very simple, transparent and easy for everyone to follow and understand. The KEY thing is that WAY more needs to be done to clarify the whole rankings calculation issue and communicate that to tennis followers. OCA will do its part and release a number of articles to clarify ALL of the many scenarios.

    Kind regards,
    Editor – OCA
    OCA Twitter:!/OnCourtAd
    OCA Facebook:

  6. You also didn’t mention that Djokovic didn’t receive atp points for his win over Federer in Dubai.
    Why is that?… seems shady to me.

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