Many fans had been crying out for it over the past few months, as the ATP circuit activity has returned to very close to normal. The highest body of the circuit decided to extend this measure in time, but today it has made official what was advanced a few months ago: the ATP ranking will return to its usual formula in the coming weeks. The freezing of some points is over, the 50% rule and drag 2019 figures: all that will come to an end after the ATP Cincinnati 2021.
Indeed, the event played in Ohio will be the first in which players will return to the traditional method of defend the points obtained in the previous year. That is: if a player who lifted the title in Cincinnati (in 2020 it was Novak Djokovic) does not appear for the tournament in the 2021 edition, for the first time since before the pandemic the player will see how the 1,000 points obtained fly from his ranking. After returning to the circuit last year, in full spread of the virus and still with uncertainty as a flag, these points would have remained frozen until the following year.
As of March of this season, however, the ATP saw that the vast majority of tournaments were held again, making cancellations an exception rather than a rule. The decision they made to resolve the mess in the rankings was clearly Solomonic: only 50% of the points earned in 2019 would be saved in case your performance in 2021 in that same tournament was not better than the last one. This has allowed many players to still have a large number of points harvested in 2019 … in the middle of 2021.
The Washington ATP 500 and the Canadian Masters 1000 will be the last tournaments where this 50% rule is still applicable. From there, what was given was over. Many, yes, could ask a question of vital importance: in what way will the ‘thaw’ of points be applied? Once the ranking returns to normal, does this mean that all the points that are saved from 2019 will be taken from the system?
There is no formal response from the ATP in their statement, but if we take a look at the detailed ranking of each player, we will verify that the points they have collected in a 2019 tournament still count towards their ranking … fall in 2022, on the date on which the same tournament is supposedly played and the points are defended (we do not know what will happen to Indian wells, relocated in October 2021; Will the 2019 points be defended on the usual date of 2022 or on that of the extraordinary edition of 2021?) We will therefore not see exaggeratedly abrupt changes in the coming weeks.
Canceled tournaments, will they follow the same logic?
There are other scenarios for which we can figure out without a clear answer yet. Take the case of events that have already been canceled heading into the last leg of the week: ATP 500 from Beijing or Tokyo, within an Asian tour that still hopes to celebrate the Masters 1000 in Shanghai, but whose chances are slim; the Basel ATP 500, last conquered by Roger Federer in 2019. Will these ranking points also fall applying the normal formula, or the impossibility of the tennis players being able to defend them will make the ATP raise exceptions to the rule?
As we say, it is a question that must be seen over the weeks, as well as the organization in the circuit Challenger, since last season’s calendar has little to do with that of 2019 (the vast majority of tours and events have been disrupted by the pandemic). The first step, totally official, is that the ranking will return to normal as of August 23, in just under a month. So get ready to see new ups and downs on the roller coaster of the circuit.