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Tennis is a sport loved all over the world which, in addition to the competitions themselves, arouses great interest because of its ranking system, which measures the performance of tennis players over time. In this scenario, the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) ranking is the main indicator of players’ position on the world circuit.

But how does a tennis player accumulate points to move up? What makes them move up or down the table?

These are some common questions even among those who know and are already passionate about tennis.

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What is the ATP Ranking?

The ATP Ranking is a system that ranks professional male and female tennis players based on their results in official tournaments. Created in 1973, the ranking is updated weekly and determines the best players in the world, directly influencing the entry of athletes into the main tournaments on the circuit.

In addition, the ranking is also important for defining other issues, such as the seedings for each competition, including the Grand Slam.

Another important factor when conceptualizing the ATP ranking is that it is used to establish the best tennis players in the world;

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In other words, when a tennis player is ranked number one by the ATP, we usually hear that he is the best tennis player in the world at the moment;

It’s worth noting that the calculation model isn’t talking about the best tennis player of all time, but of the season;

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How does the ATP Ranking work?

The ATP Ranking points system is based on players’ performance in events recognized by the association. Points are awarded according to the stage the player has reached in the tournament, as well as taking into account the importance of the championship.

Grand Slam tournaments, for example, offer more points than ATP 250 tournaments.

The points from each tournament are valid for 52 weeks (the average number of weeks in a year). This means that, after a year, the points from a specific tournament expire and are replaced by the points obtained in the same tournament in the current year;

Types of tournaments and their points

As we said above, each type of tournament awards a number of points to each tennis player as they progress through the competition;

  • Grand Slams: there are four competitions in total, the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open. In these events, the winner of a Grand Slam receives 2000 points. After all, these are the most important competitions of the year.
  • ATP Finals: This tournament brings together the eight best players of the year. The undefeated champion can win up to 1500 points.
  • ATP Masters 1000: There are nine tournaments in this category, and the winner of each receives 1000 points.
  • ATP 500: The winner of an ATP 500 tournament receives 500 points.
  • ATP 250: The winner of an ATP 250 tournament receives 250 points.
  • Challenger and ITF tournaments: These smaller-scale tournaments offer fewer points, but are important for up-and-coming players.

It’s worth noting that not only the winner receives points, but the other athletes as well;

Again, each competition offers its own volume of points for each stage the tennis player progresses through.

For example, in the Grand Slam tournaments, the distribution of points for the ATP ranking takes place as follows:

  • Champion: 2000 points
  • Vice-champion: 1200 points
  • Semi-finalist: 720 points
  • Finals: 360 points
  • Last 16: 180 points
  • Third round: 90 points
  • Second round: 45 points
  • First round: 10 points

In addition, there are specific points awarded in some special situations, such as in qualifiers and in the case of players who enter directly into a phase after the

  • Final Qualifier (Last qualifying round before the main draw): 25 points

Main rules of the ATP Ranking

Now that you understand how the ATP rankings work, it’s worth getting to grips with a few general rules on the subject. We’ve listed the most important ones below!

  1. Distribution of points: different tournaments have different amounts of points to offer;
  2. Points validity period: points are valid for 52 weeks, with weekly updates based on the results of the tournaments that took place that same week in the previous year.
  3. Best results: the ranking takes into account each player’s 18 best results in singles tournaments and 11 best results in doubles tournaments over the last 52 weeks.
  4. Tournament entry: the position in the ranking determines direct entry to tournaments, the seedings and the need (or not) to go through qualifying.
  5. Rank protection: in cases of injury, players can request rank protection, which preserves their position in the rankings during the period of absence.

The best Brazilian in the history of the ATP Ranking

The best Brazilian in the history of the ATP Ranking is Gustavo Kuerten, also known as “Guga”. He reached world number one for the first time on December 4, 2000, and held that position for a total of 43 weeks.

Guga is one of the greatest Roland Garros champions, with three championships, in 1997, 2000 and 2001;

He is undoubtedly considered one of the greatest clay-court tennis players.

Best Brazilian ever in the ATP Ranking

The best Brazilian in the history of the WTA rankings is Maria Esther Bueno, who reached the top of world tennis. Bueno won seven Grand Slam singles titles during her career, including three championships at Wimbledon (1959, 1960, 1964) and four at the U.S. Open (1959, 1963, 1964 and 1966).

Although the ATP ranking is exclusively for male tennis players, the female equivalent is the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) ranking. It’s also important to note that Maria Esther Bueno predates the creation of the WTA ranking, but she did reach the top of the world in her time.

Also read: 10 Greatest Brazilian Women Tennis Players of All Time: ranking and medals 🥇

Which male tennis player topped the ATP rankings for the longest time?

The record holder for the longest time as number 1 in the ATP Rankings is Novak Djokovic. Until June 2024, Djokovic led the rankings for a total of 389 weeks, an impressive feat that includes multiple dominant seasons and several year-ends as number 1.

With his withdrawal from Roland Garros to have surgery and prepare for the 2024 Olympics, Djokovic lost the top spot in the ATP rankings to Italian Jannik Sinner.

Which female tennis player has topped the ATP Rankings for the longest time?

As we said, the women’s ranking is called the WTA ranking, in which case the record holder for the longest time as number one is Steffi Graf, who topped the ranking for 377 weeks. Graf, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, is known for her brilliant career, which includes 22 Grand Slam titles.

If you like tennis and sports in general, following the ATP rankings will help you learn more about each tennis player’s potential and better evaluate each match by comparing their position in the ATP rankings in real time;

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