Understanding Men’s Tennis Rankings #1

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit:nicogenin

Pictured above is Rafael Nadal extending his racquet out through the ball with his mighty forehand ground stroke. Nadal became the 24th man to earn the world No.1 ranking since the ATP ranking system began in August 1973.

The ATP World Tour calculates the men’s tennis rankings over a rolling 12 month system. The rolling system is the amount of ranking points a player accumulates for the previous 52 weeks. Currently the rankings represent the points tallied from 4 August, 2008 through to 3 August, 2009.

There are only 2 exceptions to the previous 52 week rule. The 1st exception is the ATP World Tour Finals. The points won in the 2008 Finals are deducted once all ATP events, except for the 2009 ATP World Tour Finals, are played.

This exception is made to ensure that players who played in the 2008 ATP World Tour Finals DO NOT have any selection advantage over the rest of the players who failed to qualify in 2008. The year end finals aim to select only the best performed players for that calendar year, e.g. 2009.

The 2nd exception is for the ranking points won at Futures Series Tournaments. These points are added 8 days AFTER the event has concluded as opposed to the very next day for all of the other tournaments.

Ranking points are awarded in all of the 7 categories of tournaments. These categories are outlined in 2 earlier posts on this tennis website, click these links for further details: Understanding the Men’s Pro Tour #1 and Understanding the Men’s Pro Tour #2.

In each of the above mentioned 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 (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 Grand Slam graded tournaments offer the most ranking points as the highest category event on tour. The winner of the final of a Grand Slam is awarded 2,000 ATP ranking points.

The 2nd highest number of ranking points can be earned at the ATP World Tour Finals. If a player goes through undefeated to win the year end event, then he achieves the maximum of 1,500 points.

The 3rd highest amount of ranking points that can be won is in one of the 9 ATP World Tour  Masters 1000 tournaments. As the name suggests the winner of one of these events has 1,000 points added to their personal total.

A players ranking only includes the points he wins from a maximum of 18 tournaments within the previous 52 week period.

The only exception to the maximum of 18 rule is for the ATP World Tour Finals. The players who play in this final event of the season are rewarded by being allowed to count 19 events.

Further explanation of the ATP rankings including, the rules for the breakdown of which 18 tournaments must be included in each players rankings points total will be covered in part 2 of this series.

Please comment if any of the above is unclear. The aim is to make it easy for everybody to understand the tour!

© OnCourtAdvantage.com 2009


  1. Hi Terrie,
    Thanks for the question.
    The 18 year old Gianni Mina from France is currently the World No.655 on the men’s ATP Tour. The rankings do not factor in who you play against. So unfortunately for Mina, playing against Nadal in the 1st round of Roland Garros as a wild card entrant means he does not receive any ranking points at all. Last year he did not play at Roland Garros, so he will not lose any points, which means he still has 29 ATP ranking points. When the next rankings are out, he will stay pretty much where he is, in the mid to high 600’s.
    Mina was the runner-up in the 2009 Junior Roland Garros boys singles final, is currently the Junior ITF World No.3 and was No.1 just 2 months ago. Mina will be playing the Junior event again this year, so watch out for how he does. The Junior tournament runs for 1 week and begins on Monday 31 May.

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