Beginner’s guide to the ATP world tour

Posted on Apr 16 2012 - 9:40am by RSB

(Also posted on RoskillSB)

Tennis would have to be one of the most admired sports in the world. It is second only to soccer in terms of universal appeal, with people from all around the world participating at an international level. It is a sport without borders; players primarily gaining fan support based on their personalities and performances rather than the country which they choose to represent. However despite the overwhelming global support for the game, the majority of people who consider themselves tennis fans are relatively naive when it comes to following professional tennis outside the four grand slams (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open).

Now this doesn’t really bother me much; people have the right to follow a sport to whatever extent they wish to follow it. What does bother me is when my peers complain about the “lack of tennis” on during the year. Their primary concern is that there really isn’t any high quality tennis outside the four slams. Hence, I choose to write this article as an attempt to address this issue and hope to give the reader an insight into the annual on goings in the tennis world.

Basically, I wish to focus on the ATP world tour; this tour covers men’s professional tennis (in contrast, the WTA tour covers women’s professional tennis) and features almost 70 tournaments each year. The tour starts in the first week of January and ends in mid-November. Tournaments are divided into tiers; ATP 250, ATP 500, ATP 1000, and Grand Slams (ATP 2000). The number associated with each tournament reflects the amount of ranking points that the winner of the tournament will accumulate. Every entrant in the tournament’s main draw receives points based on how well they do. The eight players with the most rankings points at the end of the year face off in the Barclays ATP World Tour finals in London. Here is an example of tournament points allocation, using the template for the French Open (which is an ATP 2000 grand slam):

Points Winner Finalist Semis Quarters 4th Rd 3rd Rd 2nd Rd 1st Rd
ATP 2000 1200 720 360 180 90 45 10
WTA 2000 1400 900 500 280 160 100 5

ATP and WTA points breakdown for the French Open

Okay so all in all, that’s a lot of tournaments. Where in those 70 odd tournaments should a fan look for top quality tennis? Well, I personally follow each and every tournament but I am a die-hard tennis fan. So here’s my advice for those of you who would like to only moderately increase their tennis intake:

A player’s rankings are based on points from his best 18* tournaments in the past 365 days. As Grand Slams and ATP 1000 tournaments hold the highest ranking values, you see the majority of top players participating in these two along with some participation in ATP 500 and 250 tournaments. Most players participate in 25-30 tournaments each year to make sure they can maximize their chances to boost their ranking points. An interesting statistic however is the fact that the top 4 of men’s tennis (Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray) have each only played 19-20 tournaments in the past year.

Looking at the playing activity of the top 4, it is apparent that all of them have played in the four Grand Slams (ATP 2000) over the past 366 days. All four of them participated in at least 7 of the 9 ATP 1000 tours in the past year. When it comes to ATP 500 tournaments, 3 of the 4 participated in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and 2 participated in the Japan Open Tennis Championships.

So for those of you who would like to increase their tennis intake beyond just the four slams; I advise that you start off by following the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 series. To give an idea of the quality of tennis in this tier of play; 29 of the world’s top 32 male players participated in the latest Master’s tournament (Miami). Indian Wells (won by Federer) and Miami (won by Djokovic) have already come and passed this year and the next one to look forward to is the Monte Carlo Masters (which started TODAY). I’ll be covering ALL of the ATP 1000′s series and Grand slams on this blog so if you ever feel like you’re lacking some tennis in your life, you know where to look.

ATP 1000 and 2000 schedule for calendar year 2012

Date Tournament Current Champion
Jan 16 – 29 Australian Open (Melbourne) Novak Djokovic
March 5 – 18 BNP Paribas Open  (Indian Wells) Roger Federer
March 19 – April 1 Sony Ericsson Open (Miami) Novak Djokovic
April 16 – 22 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (Monte Carlo) Rafael Nadal
May 7 – 13 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open (Madrid) Novak Djokovic
May 14 – 20 Internationali BNL d’Italia (Rome) Novak Djokovic
May 28 – June 10 French Open (Paris) Rafael Nadal
June 25 – July 8 The Championships, Wimbledon (London) Novak Djokovic
July 29 – August 5 2012 Summer Olympics (London) Rafael Nadal
August 6 – 12 Rogers Cup (Toronto) Novak Djokovic
August 13 – 19 Western & Southern Open (Cincinnati) Andy Murray
August 27 – September 9 US Open (New York City) Novak Djokovic
October 8 – 14 Shanghai Rolex Masters (Shanghai) Andy Murray
October 29 – November 4 BNP Paribas Masters (Paris) Roger Federer
November 5 – 11 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (London) Roger Federer

Note: If a player has reached that ATP World Tour Finals, this counts as an extra 19th ranking tournament.

 

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