ATP and WTA tennis rankings explained: How does the points system work?
Reaching the world number 1 ranking in tennis is a huge achievement for any player, but how does the points system algorithm work?
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Tennis is one of the great individual sports. It does have its team events like the ATP Cup, Davis Cup and doubles, but at the heart of the sport is the one-on-one dual. Anything can happen in any given game. And at no stage during a match can one player not make a comeback and win.
It's why we love it. And if you want to watch any WTA or ATP match live in Australia, you can explore our how to watch tennis guide for more.
Tennis is a truly global sport and being crowned the number one player on the ATP or WTA tour is an achievement not to be taken lightly. Since 1973 when the ATP rankings system came to be, only 26 men from the thousands that have played have been number 1.
It's similar over in the WTA. The women's rankings were introduced in 1975 and only 27 individuals have been considered world number 1.
So, let's take a look at how the points system works.
ATP and WTA tennis rankings explained
Tennis rankings are all about form, not legacy. That's what makes it such an accurate litmus test of the player talent actually hitting the court and playing in that moment in time.
In every tournament that a player enters, they will be awarded points based on their performance. (We'll detail the points system shortly.) Those points are added to their total tally and stay there for 52 weeks. Those points are then deducted from the player's total, but they have the opportunity, of course, to earn them back, or more, by playing the tournament again.
An example. Let's say that Ashleigh Barty arrives at Wimbledon with 8,000 points. In 2019 she finished in the fourth round, which earned her 180 points. Let's say that in 2020 Barty goes on to win the tournament, earning her 2,000 points. So, what would be her total rankings points after Wimbledon?
Barty would drop instantly to 1,720 as the 180 points she earned 52 weeks prior at Wimbledon 2019 will come off her tally. However, she receives 2,000 points for winning the tournament in 2020. As a result, her points tally has become 9,820.
This fundamental core to the tennis rankings system transcends both the ATP and WTA (as in the men's and women's) rankings. However, the points awarded for tournaments and the expectations and requirements of players differ between the two tennis tours.
Are ATP tennis players required to play certain tournaments?
Yes, if a tennis player is eligible to play in a Grand Slam, ATP 1000 or WTA Premier Mandatory event, then they are obliged to do so. Obviously, injury, pregnancy, family emergency and other such unknowns can mean a player has to miss the event, but they're not granted exemption from their point deduction. So, missing such an event will grant them zero points, while deducting the points accrued the year prior from their tally.
This is why Novak Djokovic fell out of the rankings completely when he suffered a year-long elbow injury. And why Serena Williams went from number one to off the table altogether following the birth of her child.
As for lesser tournaments, on the men's side players are obliged to play at least 4 ATP 500 tournaments, but there is no expectation to play ATP 250 tournaments. On the women's side, the top 20 are obliged to play at least 2 Premier 5 tournaments on top of those mentioned above.
Does each tennis tournament grant the same ranking points?
Not all tennis tournaments are considered equal. And to make matters more confusing, the ATP and WTA tennis tours look at the year's available tournaments in different ways.
ATP tournament rankings points
Obviously, there are the big four; the Grand Slams in the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open. There are also 8 Masters events, sometimes known as the ATP 1000. There are then ATP 500 and ATP 250 events, followed by a number of Challenger tournaments.
The points from all Grand Slam and all Masters events are counted regardless of the result. Then the next six best results from the other ATP events make up the rest of the points tally. So even if you were to win 10 ATP 500 events, only a maximum of 6 of them could count towards your rankings point tally.
Additional points can be earned from the ATP Finals and the ATP Cup. Below you will find a breakdown of how that looks in practice.
|Tournament||Winner||Runner's Up||Semi-Final||Quarter-Final||R16||R32||R64||R128||Qualifyer Bonus|
|ATP/WTA 1000 (Draw > 56)||1000||600||360||180||90||45||25||10||12|
|ATP/WTA 500 (Draw > 32)||500||300||180||90||45||20||0||0||10|
|ATP/WTA 250 (Draw > 32)||250||150||90||45||20||5||0||0||5|
|ATP Challenger 125||250||150||90||45||20||5||0||0||0|
|ATP Challenger 110||110||65||40||20||9||5||0||0||0|
|ATP Challenger 100||100||60||35||18||8||5||0||0||0|
|ATP Challenger 90||90||55||33||17||8||5||0||0||0|
|ATP Challenger 80||80||48||29||15||7||3||0||0||0|
|ATP Finals||900||400||200 points for each round robin victory||0||0||0||0||0||0|
WTA tournament rankings points
Like the ATP, the women's tennis tour also puts the Grand Slams on the highest pedestal. The next tier down is the four WTA Premier Mandatory events, followed by the Premier 5 tournaments. You then drop down to lesser Premier, International and 125K tournaments.
The points from all Grand Slam and all WTA Premier Mandatory events are counted regardless of the result. And the Top 20 players must include 2 Premier 5 results in their tally as well. After that, it's a case of six next best results from the other tournaments.
Additional points are earned from the WTA Finals and the WTA Elite Trophy. Below you will find a breakdown of how this all looks in practice.
|Tournament||Winner||Runner-Up||Semi-Final||Quarter-Final||R16||R32||R64||R128||Qualifier Winner||Qualifier 3||Qualifier 2||Qualifier 1|
|WTA Premier Mandatory (96 players)||1000||650||390||215||120||65||35||10||30||0||20||2|
|WTA Premier Mandatory (60 players)||1000||650||390||215||120||65||10||0||30||0||20||2|
|WTA Premier 5||900||585||350||190||105||60||1||0||30||22||15||1|
|WTA Premier (56 players)||470||305||185||100||55||30||1||0||25||0||13||1|
|WTA Premier (32 players)||470||305||185||100||55||1||0||0||25||18||13||1|
|WTA International (32 players)||280||180||110||60||30||1||0||0||18||14||10||1|
|WTA 125K series||160||95||57||29||15||1||0||0||6||0||4||1|
|WTA Finals||750||330||250 points for winning, 125 points for losing each round robin matchn||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|WTA Elite Trophy||460||200||120 points for winning, 40 points for losing each round robin matchn||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
How often do the ATP and WTA tennis rankings come out?
Do players earn ranking points for the Olympics?
No, players no longer earn ranking points for the ATP or WTA tours from the Summer Olympics. Players also no longer earn points from the Davis Cup.
How do rankings points work for the ATP Cup?
In 2020, the ATP tour introduced the ATP Cup, a unique event that mixes up the tennis in more ways than one. It's a team-based men's only tournament, where players qualify to represent their country based on their singles rankings. However, unlike other team-based tennis events, players do earn ATP Tour ranking points. And those points change depending on the quality of the opposition. Here's a breakdown of how it works:
|Opponent Ranking||1 to 10||11 to 20||21 to 30||31 to 50||51 to 100||101+|
Do you get bonus points for beating a top seed in tennis?
Outside of the ATP Cup, there is no points benefit to beating a player who is a top seed. Many see this as unfortunate given that a rank outsider beating a top 10 player should probably deserve some bonus credit. However, this is not granted. Instead, the player does get the bonus of going deeper into the tournament, while the defeated star will likely suffer a significant points drop. This brings the two closer together.
Image source: Kayo Sports website
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