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High Angle View Of Various Sport Equipments On Green Grass

Required knowledge.

On December 29, the new tennis season started. Organizing a tour is about as complicated as the history of a tennis score. But we’ll help you sort it all out.

Tennis is fragmented: men and women in different federations, at different levels, their own organizers

One of the main features of tennis is that it has three governing organizations.

There is an Association of Tennis Professionals ATP, which is responsible for most of the major men’s tournaments.

The WTA Women’s Tennis Association, as the name implies, hosts women’s tournaments.

And then there is the International Tennis Federation (ITF). She is responsible for the most important competitions on the calendar – the Grand Slam tournaments: the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open. In addition, it hosts many, many of the smallest tournaments – the so-called “Futures”, which are mainly played by people who are not included in the top 200.

The ITF also manages the largest team tournaments – the men’s Davis Cup and the women’s Billie Jean King Cup (formerly the Fed Cup).

Keep in mind that the Grand Slams are so rich and powerful that they are essentially independent. For example, they themselves sell TV rights.

Fragmentation is said to be one of the main reasons why tennis has not fully realized its commercial potential: TV rights, match data and other assets are sold in a piecemeal manner, as a result of which tennis competes not only with other sports, but also with itself.

And it’s also inconvenient for fans: to follow the season and watch matches, you need to buy several subscriptions to different streaming platforms.

The basis of the tour is the rating. How does he work?

Since the late 1970s, the ATP and WTA have maintained official computer-generated rankings. They are published almost every week – the only exceptions are the periods when two-week competitions are held.

In tournaments, players earn rating points, the number of which depends on the stage they have reached and the prestige of the competition. These points are summed up, and, based on their number, the players are ranked.

At the same time, it should be taken into account that a player can play at least 40 tournaments per season, but not all results will be included in the rating. For example, the ATP counts 19 tournaments: all Grand Slams, eight mandatory Masters, and seven best results from all other competitions. Plus, if a player is selected for the final tournament, then the points for him will also be included in the rating. (We will talk more about how the different categories differ from each other below).

Women have a slightly different system. The rating is calculated based on 16 results: from four Grand Slams, four WTA 1000 tournaments (Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing), plus eight best results are added to it during the season. If the tennis player gets to the final, then the points for it are a bonus.

And to get into the rating, you need to earn points in three different tournaments or get at least 10 points in one tournament. And if a player has not played a single tournament in the last 52 weeks or has not won a single point in them, he drops out of the rating.

Under normal conditions, points in the rating are stored for 52 weeks, after which they burn out. This rule is violated only for the final ATP tournament – points for it are burned before it starts, because it is considered a bonus tournament. In addition, during the pandemic, the ratings were frozen, and they were calculated so complicated that you don’t even want to remember.

Since points expire, they must be earned anew each year – or protected. And the more points a player won in the previous season, the less new ones he can get in the next one. For example, Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal will no longer be able to earn new points in 2023 – only to keep the old ones if he wins the tournament again. And Novak Djokovic can significantly improve his rating, because in 2022 he was not allowed into Australia, so he had a zero rating for this tournament.

In addition, there is a championship race in the tours, in which only points for the current season are taken into account. According to the results of the race, there is a selection for the final tournaments. It restarts after the final one ends, unlike the ratings, which never completely reset.

The rating is needed for selection for tournaments – the higher it is, the more chances to get into the most prestigious competitions.

There is nothing more powerful in tennis than the Grand Slams – they are the richest, most prestigious and most popular

The main events in tennis are the Grand Slam tournaments:

• Australian Open, which takes place in Melbourne at the end of January. This season – 16-29th.

• Roland Garros, held in Paris in late May and early June. This season – from May 28 to June 11.

• Wimbledon London, which will take place July 3-16 in the 2023 season.

• The US Open, which closes the Grand Slam season in New York. In 2023, it will take place on August 28 – September 10.

Grand Slams are tournaments where the most money and points are played. And they have the largest draws – 128 people each, so it takes two weeks to determine the champion.

Please note that points are awarded differently in the men’s and women’s rounds – they are the same only for the first round and the title.

And why the “Grand Slams” became so important, you can read here . In short, they were simply designated as such in the mid-1920s, because at that time they were the main competitions in the main tennis countries for the widest possible range of participants.

The second level of prestige is Masters and WTA 1000 tournaments. In the women’s tour, they are very chaotic

The next most prestigious regular season tournaments are the ATP 1000 and WTA 1000. Since they have been part of the Tennis Masters Series in the men’s tour since 2000, they are also called the Masters.

This category has a mix – both tournaments that received this status for historical reasons, and those who paid a lot of money for it. Now both the ATP and the WTA have nine tournaments of the 1000 class each. There are joint:

• Indian Wells;

• Miami;

• Madrid;

• Rome;

• Toronto/Montreal (where the women play in one city, the men in another, and they change every year);

• Cincinnati.

There are only men:

• Monte Carlo;

• Shanghai;

• Paris.

And only for women:

• Doha/Dubai (they alternate categories);

• Wuhan;

• Beijing.

At the same time, tournaments in China have not been held at all in recent years – formally in the ATP because of the coronavirus, and in the WTA because of the Shuai Peng case. In the men’s round, they were not replaced by anything, and in the women’s round they added competitions in Guadalajara.

It is important that in the ATP all Masters, except for Monte Carlo, are mandatory for participation – if a player is selected by rating, then he must play it. If he misses it, he gets zero points in the rating, and if he does not play without good reason, then he may still face fines and other sanctions. At the same time, there are criteria that allow you to skip a certain number or even all the “Masters” without punishment – they are mainly related to length of service.

There are four mandatory tournaments in the women’s round: Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing. And related to this is an interesting feature of scoring.

In the men’s round, the category of the tournament indicates how many points the champion receives. Accordingly, 1000 points go to win the ATP 1000 in the ranking. At the same time, it should be taken into account that there are different grids at the Masters – 96 people get into them in Indian Wells, and 32 seeded players start from the second round.

In general, the distribution scheme is as follows:

In the WTA, categories with numbers appeared only in 2021, and in the WTA 1000, two different classes of competition were combined. And now the champion receives 1000 points only in four mandatory tournaments.

And on optional numbers less.

Tour base is 500 and 250 tournaments

We have dealt with the most prestigious tournaments – now let’s move on to the basis of the tours, the most numerous competitions.

These are tournaments of categories 500 (there are 14 of them in the ATP, somewhere around 11 in the WTA) and 250, occupying more than half of the places on the calendar. Their only feature is that in the women’s tour, top 10 tennis players can only play three per season. Well, as already mentioned, not all of them go to the rankings.

In general, this is the base for simple hard workers of the tour.

And, again, in the women’s round, the number in the category name does not correspond to the number of points that the champion will receive.

For the strongest, there are still final tournaments. They have a special format.

According to the results of the season, the eight best players leading in the championship races are selected for the final tournaments. These are the only individual competitions in the tennis calendar where there is a group stage – tennis players are divided into two groups, from which two people come out, then play the semi-finals and the final.

The final tournaments are a great opportunity to earn a lot of points, especially in the women’s round, where even three defeats in the group stage can get points, like in the Grand Slam quarterfinals.

And there are many, many small tournaments. Some can be accessed from the street

Above we talked about the so-called main tour. It is not known how correct it is to call it that, because in fact the vast majority of professional tennis players play in other tournaments.

Those who are below all in the ranking play in ITF tournaments, which are also called “Futures”. They have the lowest prize pools, the fewest points up for grabs, and sometimes there are just horrible conditions – for example, crooked courts with crooked lines.

In principle, anyone can get into the Futures bracket, especially in the qualification. So, a couple of years ago, the bettor announced his friend there , who did not know how to play at all and did not take a single point for the match. And the legend of the ITF tour was the 75-year-old Gail Falkenberg , who periodically performs at such tournaments and mostly loses 0:6, 0:6.

In general, these tournaments are not an opportunity to earn money with tennis, but a chance to gain points and experience in order to break through to a higher level.

A level higher are the ATP Challengers and their women’s counterpart, the WTA 125K tournaments. Quite serious tennis players are already playing there, who use them as a platform for breaking into the top 100 and a little higher, so that later they can completely move into the main round.

And don’t forget team tournaments – which reform, kill, revive

In addition, there are four team tournaments in tennis.

The oldest are the men’s Davis Cup and the women’s Fed Cup, which has recently been renamed the Billie Jean King Cup. Over the past few years, these tournaments have been held according to a new abbreviated format. If earlier the matches of the elite division, where the cups are actually played, were held throughout the season, now the Davis Cup has been laid down in two weeks: first, the group stage is held, and at the end of the season, the playoffs. The women’s tournament is held according to the same scheme, but in one week.

Matches between national teams now consist of two singles and one doubles matches – and before, four singles and a doubles. In addition, men now play in a three-set format instead of a five-set format.

It is widely believed among players, journalists and spectators that these reforms killed the great team tournaments.

In addition, a revival of the Hopman Cup, the great mixed doubles tournament, is planned. If earlier it was held at the beginning of the season in Australia, now it is held in the summer in Nice. In 2023 and 2024, six teams will take part, from 2025 the number will increase to eight. Each meeting between the countries will consist of three matches: men’s and women’s singles, as well as mixed.

These three tournaments are hosted by the ITF and do not award ranking points.

But they will be in the new mixed tournament – the United Cup, which starts the 2023 season. It will be held for the first time, and this is one of the steps to bring together the currently disparate tours.

18 teams play there – 6 were selected by the men’s rating, 6 by the women’s, and another 6 by the mixed one. These 18 teams were divided into six groups that will play in three cities. And the peculiarity of the tournament is that after the group stage, the leaders of the groups in the same city compete for a place in the semi-finals, and the best of the second places will compete for the fourth place in 1/2.

Each team consists of two men and two women. Team meetings consist of two men’s singles, two women’s and one mixed.