The ATP – The Association of Tennis Professionals – has announced in London a package of measures to support players and tournaments under continued COVID-19 conditions.
The package covers a range of areas including prize money at ATP 250 and ATP 500 events, and an update to the FedEx ATP Rankings system. The ATP has also introduced a new COVID-19 Protected Ranking provision to give players further security in the current environment, and an update to the number of player support team allowances on-site at events.
The package involves prize money levels for ATP 250 and 500 events and a bonus pool. For instance, between the Australian Open and Wimbledon, minimum prize money levels for ATP 250 and ATP 500 tournaments will be raised to 80% and 60% respectively, up from 50%.
The increases, which equate to a maximum expenditure of $5.2m, will be primarily funded through a redistribution of part of the ATP Bonus Pool, ordinarily distributed to the Top 12 eligible players at the end of the season. Redistribution of the funds has come with the support of the ATP Player Council, including Top 10 representatives Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Like other sports events, ATP’s tournaments revenues have been severely impacted by restrictions on ticket sales, and Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman, said in a statement that a substantial improvement on this front looks unlikely before mid-year. The focus is therefore to ensure that the Tour continues to support as many players as possible. Gaudenzi thanked the top-ranked players and the Player Council for helping out in the support package, which he said, will help improve conditions for the larger player group over the coming months.
Meanwhile, an update of the ATP rankings shows that the ‘Best Of’ logic for the placement through the week of 9th August 2021, including the Toronto tournament. Results from all events between 4th March and 5th August 2019, which were not played in 2020, will be extended a further 52 weeks and weighted at 50%. This reduction will occur at the originally designated drop date for each event and the ‘Best Of’ logic will only count the better of a player’s two scores from the same tour-level event.
For example, a player will be able to count either 50% of his 2019 Madrid result, or 100% of his 2021 Madrid result, whichever is greater, for the next 52 weeks.
Results from rescheduled 2020 events in Kitzbühel, Hamburg, Rome & the French Open in Roland Garros will also be included for an additional 52 weeks at 50% from their originally scheduled drop date and be compared against the 2021 event in a ‘Best Of’ logic. The 2019 edition of these four events will drop from the rankings as per their currently scheduled drop date.
In 2021, all results prior to Wimbledon will be counted as ‘Best of Other’ in a player’s rankings breakdown, with a review of subsequent events to follow. Automatic entry and commitment rules for the ATP Masters 1000s continue to apply with respect to eligibility for the ATP Bonus Pool.
At this time, it is anticipated that the rankings will resume with points dropping off on 52-week basis beginning 16th August 2021, with Cincinnati. Providing no further changes are made, this means that a traditional ranking, incorporating only results from the previous 52 weeks, will apply again on 15th August 2022.
The decision to retain 50% of points earned in 2019 during the period corresponding to the 2020 suspension, aims to provide players a measure of security in months ahead, while travel restrictions and stringent health & safety measures continue to apply.
Provisions have also been made for a special COVID-19 Protected Ranking and players who are out of competition for four consecutive weeks will be eligible for a COVID-19 Protected Ranking. This measure is designed to allow players greater flexibility in their scheduling, without having a negative impact on their ability to enter future tournaments.
Eligible players will be granted four entry opportunities, excluding Grand Slams and/or the Olympic Games, using their ‘frozen’ ranking. Players will only be able to use their COVID-19 Protected Ranking for entry into as many ATP Masters 1000 events as they missed during their time away from competition.
In addition, as part of an ongoing review of on-site health and safety protocols, the ATP has worked with tournaments to provide increased Player Support Team (PST) allocations, offered to players on a first-come, first-served basis.
Players have been restricted to +2 support team members at ATP tournaments as part of health & safety protocols implemented since the resumption of the Tour in August 2020. Additional PST members may be permitted within specific on-site locations and the official hotel, subject to availability and full COVID-19 protocols.
The ATP said it will continue to explore additional measures to provide increased flexibility for players, while continuing to prioritise health and safety.
On COVID-19 isolation costs, the ATP has allocated up to $10,000 for each ATP Tour and ATP Challenger Tour event in 2021 to cover hotel costs that may arise from additional isolation or quarantine periods, required in the event of positive COVID-19 test results or close contact situations. Tournaments and players will be protected against incurring unanticipated costs related to health & safety.
The ATP is the global governing body of men’s professional tennis. It organizes tennis events that showcase the world’s greatest players, at the most prestigious tournaments, and inspire the next generation of fans and players. From the ATP Cup in Australia, to Europe, the Americas and Asia, the stars of the game battle for titles and ATP Rankings points at ATP Masters 1000, 500 and 250 events, and the 4 Grand Slams – Australian Open at Melbourne Park, (Hard court) French Open at Roland Garros, (Clay), Wimbledon Championships at the All England Tennis & Croquet Club (Grass) and the US Open at Flushing Meadows, New York, (Hard court).
The ATP also hosts ATP Finals, the prestigious season finale held in Turin, Italy, featuring only the world’s top 8 qualified singles players and doubles teams. The tournament sees the official crowning of the year-end ATP World No. 1, considered the ultimate achievement in tennis.
The top ten on the current ATP Ranking are:
- Novak Djokovic , (Serbia)
- Rafael Nadal, (Spain)
- Daniil Medvedev, (Russia)
- Dominic Thiem, (Austria)
- Roger Federer, (Switzerland)
- Stefanos Tsitsipas, (Greece)
- Alexander Zverev , (Germany)
- Andrey Rublev, (Russia)
- Diego Schwartzman, (Argentina)
- Matteo Berrettini , (Italy)
The WTA – the Women Tennis Association – is expected to set up a similar package for the ladies to enable them weather the pandemic times.
IMAGE CREDIT: ATPTOUR.COM