The ATP and WTA tennis rankings give an objective measurement of who the current best player in the men’s and women’s tennis world is. Here’s a lowdown of how the tennis ranking system in ATP and WTA work, its history, what’s the purpose, the various records associated with the rankings and other aspects of these rankings.
History of ATP & WTA Rankings
The men’s rankings first began in August 1973 for the singles circuit while the doubles rankings at the ATP level followed in August 1976. The WTA rankings were brought in in November 1975.
The ranking system has evolved over the years, changing in the way points were allocated and rankings calculated. More on that can be found in the sections below.
Why are ATP & WTA Rankings Necessary?
Tennis rankings in tennis give an objective measure of who is the best player, and allows players to qualify for tournaments based on merit rather than subjectivity exercised by the tournament organisers.
How are Tennis Rankings Determined?
As mentioned earlier, the ranking system in tennis has changed with time. Here’s a lowdown of the previous systems and how it currently works.
Previous ATP Ranking System
Each tournament a player participated in helped the player win points depending on which stage of the tournament the player reached. Bigger the tournament, more the points allocated for it.
Originally, on the men’s tour, every player’s performance was averaged out over the number of tournaments he played but even this system underwent multiple iterations.
It was only in 1990 the seeds of the current system were sown when a men’s player was ranked based on his best performance across 14 tournaments in a year. This was later changed to 18 tournaments in a year.
The women’s rankings work in a similar manner to the ATP rankings with a slight difference that best results across 16 tournaments are taken into consideration.
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How are Current ATP & WTA Rankings Calculated?
Since the year 2000, players on the ATP circuit are awarded points for their best performances in 18 tournaments each year. To go with that, there’s a rollover of points after 12 months, so points earned from winning a tournament in a particular year are lost the following year before the start of the corresponding week in that year.
The ATP circuit is divided into the ITF Futures competitions, ATP Challengers, ATP 250, ATP 500, ATP 1000 Masters, Grand Slams (and a couple of others like the year-ending ATP Finals and the newly-started ATP Cup). Based on which of the aforementioned types of competitions a tournament belongs to, points are awarded for every round.
For instance, the winner of a Grand Slam tournament earns 2000 points on the men’s circuit while the winner of an ATP 250 competition garners 250 points. Similarly participation in each round earns some points as well.
This point system is not too different on the WTA circuit. There are different tiers of tournaments, and every round in every tier of competition earns different ranking points.
The 18 tournaments taken into account on the men’s circuit include the four Grand Slams, the eight mandatory Masters 1000 events and the best six performances from the remaining tournaments belonging to the non-mandatory Masters 1000, ATP 500, ATP 250, Challengers, Future and other team tournaments.
If a male player makes it to the ATP Finals, that would be the 19th tournament added to his points tally.
The 16 tournaments which are a part of the WTA circuit include the four majors, four Premier Mandatory tournaments and the WTA Finals to go with the best two results at Premier 5 competitions for the Top 20 players.
How are the Current Doubles Rankings Determined?
The tennis doubles rankings, whether ATP or WTA, isn’t too different from the singles rankings system. Players are awarded points individually instead of as a team and teams are seeded in tournaments based on their collective ranking points.
Again, the men’s doubles rankings takes into account the best 18 results from the previous 12 months while the women’s doubles rankings takes into the account the best 11 tournament results in the same period.
Ranking Points Structure for ATP Tournaments
As mentioned earlier, every appearance in each of the tournament organised at the ITF and ATP level counts for points. These can be earned in the following way. The table below has ranking points for just the singles competitions.
|(200 for each round robin match win)
|Masters 1000||1000||600||360||180||90||45||10 (25)||(10)||25 (12)
|ATP 500||500||300||180||90||45||(20)||20 (10)
|ATP 250||250||150||90||45||20||(5)||12 (5)
|Futures $25,000 +||20||12||6||3||1|
|Futures $15,000 +||10||6||4||2||1|
Ranking Points Structure for WTA Tournaments
As mentioned earlier, every appearance in each of the tournament organised at the WTA level counts for points. These can be earned in the following way. The table below consists of ranking points for both, the singles and doubles competitions.
|Grand Slam (S)||2000||1300||780||430||240||130||70||10||40||30||20||2
|Grand Slam (D)||2000||1300||780||430||240||130||10||–||40||–||–||–
|WTA Finals (S)||1500*||1080*||750*||(+125 per Round Robin Match; +125 per Round Robin Win)
|WTA Finals (D)||1500||1080||750||375||–
|WTA Premier Mandatory (96S)||1000||650||390||215||120||65||35||10||30||–||20||2
|WTA Premier Mandatory (64/60S)||1000||650||390||215||120||65||10||–||30||–||20||2
|WTA Premier Mandatory (28/32D)||1000||650||390||215||120||10||–||–||–||–||–||–
|WTA Premier 5 (56S,64Q)||900||585||350||190||105||60||1||–||30||22||15||1
|WTA Premier 5 (56S,48/32Q)||900||585||350||190||105||60||1||–||30||–||20||1
|WTA Premier 5 (28D)||900||585||350||190||105||1||–||–||–||–||–||–
|WTA Premier 5 (16D)||900||585||350||190||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–
|WTA Elite Trophy (S)||700*||440*||240*||(+40 per Round Robin Match; +80 per Round Robin Win)
|WTA Premier (56S)||470||305||185||100||55||30||1||–||25||–||13||1
|WTA Premier (32S)||470||305||185||100||55||1||–||–||25||18||13||1
|WTA Premier (16D)||470||305||185||100||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–
|WTA International (32S,32Q)||280||180||110||60||30||1||–||–||18||14||10||1
|WTA International (32S,16Q)||280||180||110||60||30||1||–||–||18||–||12||1
|WTA International (16D)||280||180||110||60||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–
|WTA 125K series (S)||160||95||57||29||15||1||–||–||6||–||4||1
|WTA 125K series (D)||160||95||57||29||1||-||–||–||–||–||–||–
|ITF $100,000+H (S)||150||90||55||28||14||1||–||–||6||–||4||–
|ITF $100,000+H (D)||150||90||55||28||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–
|ITF $100,000 (S)||140||85||50||25||13||1||–||–||6||–||4||–
|ITF $100,000 (D)||140||85||50||25||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–
|ITF $80,000+H (S)||130||80||48||24||12||1||–||–||5||–||3||–
|ITF $80,000+H (D)||130||80||48||24||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–
|ITF $80,000 (S)||115||70||42||21||10||1||–||–||5||–||3||–
|ITF $80,000 (D)||115||70||42||21||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–
|ITF $60,000+H (S)||100||60||36||18||9||1||–||–||5||–||3||–
|ITF $60,000+H (D)||100||60||36||18||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–
|ITF $60,000 (S)||80||48||29||15||8||1||–||–||5||–||3||–
|ITF $60,000 (D)||80||48||29||15||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–
|ITF $25,000+H (S)||60||36||22||11||6||1||–||–||2||–||–||–
|ITF $25,000+H (D)||60||36||22||11||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–
|ITF $25,000 (S)||50||30||18||9||5||1||–||–||1||–||–||–
|ITF $25,000 (D)||50||30||18||9||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–
What Do They Mean by a Player Defending Points at a Tournament?
The points earned by a player in a particular tournament are lost at the start of that same competition the following year. So, going into this next year’s tournament, the points earned by the player from that very tournament the previous year is the number of points the player would be defending going into new tournament.
Take, for e.g. Roger Federer who was 2018 Wimbledon winner. He won 2000 ranking points for lifting that trophy which meant going into the 2019 edition of Wimbledon, he was defending 2000 points.
In 2019, Federer made it to the final again but lost that thriller to Novak Djokovic. A men’s singles runnerup at Wimbledon earns 1200 points, which meant he lost 800 points (2000-1200) from his overall tally despite making it to the final.
Similarly, Simona Halep was ousted in the third round of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships which earned her 130 points that year. She was, as a result, defending 130 points which is why when she won the 2019 Wimbledon by defeating Serena Williams in straight sets in the final, she had successfully added 1870 points (2000-130) to her tally.
Latest ATP Rankings
The latest men’s singles and doubles rankings are updated on the official ATP website. You can check these rankings and order them by ranking and by country here. These ATP rankings are updated every Monday.
Latest WTA Rankings
The latest women’s singles and doubles rankings are updated on the official WTA website. You can check these rankings and order them by ranking and by country here. These WTA rankings are updated every Monday.
How Often are the Rankings Updated?
Both, the men’s and women’s rankings in tennis change once a week, updated every Monday.
What are Live Tennis Rankings?
While tennis rankings on both, the men’s and women’s circuit are updated and put up on their official website every Monday, as mentioned above, there is a constant update to players’ points after every match played in the week.
This match-by-match update takes into account the points a player is defending and the points earned after having played his/her latest match to give you a live update of the player’s possible rank if he/she was to lose the next encounter.
There are a few sites which update the men’s and women’s tennis rankings live on a match by match basis. You can check one of them out here.
The aforementioned website can also be used as a tennis rankings predictor.
What is the Race to London Rankings?
The Race to London or the Race to the ATP Finals Rankings are the rankings which are used to decide which eight players qualify for the ATP Finals played at the end of the ATP season. These rankings are decided on the basis of the points earned by players in a calendar year, with each player starting on zero and accumulating points based on his performance in that year.
The performance from the best 18 performances in tournaments is taken into account and totalled at the end of the season. On the basis of these points, the top seven players get a direct entry into the ATP Finals. This is followed by an additional two Grand Slam winners ranked between 8th and 20th, based on their ranking and then the player ranked eighth in this Race to ATP Finals rankings.
If there are more than eight players found through the aforementioned method, the extra player(s) are made Alternates in case of any withdrawals.
The Race to London Rankings are updated here.
What is the Race to Shenzhen Rankings?
The Race to Shenzhen or the Race to the WTA Finals Rankings are the rankings used to decide which eight women’s players qualify for the WTA Finals at the end of the WTA season.
All players start from zero at the start of the year.
A player’s best performances over 16 tournaments played in the year, including four Grand Slams, four Premier Mandatory competitions and the best results from two Premier 5 events for players ranked in the top 20 are taken into account to award ranking points.
The top eight players then qualify for the WTA Finals based on these Race to Shenzhen Rankings.
The Race to Shenzhen Rankings are updated here.
ATP Rankings Records
- Since 1973, a total of 26 players have reached the number one spot in the men’s rankings as on May 2020.
- The first male player to be ranked world number one was Ille Nastase, while Andy Murray is the latest to become the number one for the first time.
- Roger Federer holds the record for the most number of weeks as number one at 310 weeks. Novak Djokovic is closing in with 282* weeks an counting (*updated till May 2020)
- 17 of these 26 players have ended the year as number one too
- Patrick Rafter is the only player to have remained the number one for just one week. Carlos Moya (2), Thomas Muster (6), Marcelo Rios (6), Yevgeny Kafelnikov (6), John Newcombe (8), Juan Carlos Ferrero (8) and Marat Safin (9) have all been number one for less than 10 weeks.
WTA Rankings Records
- Since 1975, a total of 27 players have reached the number one spot in the women’s rankings as on May 2020.
- The first female player to be ranked world number one was Chris Evert, while Ash Barty is the latest to become the number one for the first time.
- Steffi Graf holds the record for the highest number of weeks spent at the number one spot with 377 weeks. Serena Williams, with 319, has an outside chance of overtaking that record
- Graf also spent a record 186 weeks in a row as the number one player which is an Open Era record. This was equalled by Serena Williams later.
Tennis Juniors Rankings
The juniors rankings in tennis are maintained by International Tennis Federation, or the ITF. These rankings are available for both, boys and girls singles. Based on these junior rankings in tennis, players are seeded in tournaments like the Grand Slams for juniors.
What Happened to ATP and WTA Rankings during Coronavirus Pandemic?
Both, the ATP and WTA ranks were frozen during the coronavirus pandemic, i.e. no player could lose or gain points during this period and hence there would be no change in the rankings. It was also deemed the number of weeks at number one wouldn’t change during the time tennis was suspended because of the pandemic.
What are the Frozen Tennis Rankings?
Tennis competitions across both the ATP and WTA calendar were suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result of this, no tennis tournament was played across all competition from the lower levels, i.e. ITF and Challengers, to Grand Slam tennis.
As a result of this, player ranking points – and the player rankings as a result – were all frozen, i.e. there would be no changes to the points or rankings till the situation doesn’t improve enough for tennis to resume.