Nadal extends lead over Federer using WTA points system

Published by Matt Trollope & Leigh Rogers

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have both had outstanding seasons in 2017. Photo: Getty Images
We took the ATP top 20 and applied the WTA ranking points system to their 2017 results. While largely unchanged in order, there were some interesting finds in the list.

After recently ranking the women using the ATP points system, we decided to do the reverse now that the ATP season is over.

Somewhat anti-climatically, the ATP top 10 remained unchanged in its order when using the WTA’s points system.

What did differ was the gaps between the players within that top 10.

As you can see from our number-crunching, top-ranked Rafael Nadal’s lead over No.2 Roger Federer – currently 1,040 points under the ATP system – extends to 1,144 points when the WTA formula is applied.

The WTA rankings have long been said to reward consistency of results and quantity of performance. Nadal, who played more frequently than Federer throughout 2017, was somewhat a beneficiary of this system.

ATP system Rank WTA system
Rafael Nadal 1 Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer 2 Roger Federer
Grigor Dimitrov 3 Grigor Dimitrov
Alexander Zverev 4 Alexander Zverev
Dominic Thiem 5 Dominic Thiem
Marin Cilic 6 Marin Cilic
David Goffin 7 David Goffin
Jack Sock 8 Jack Sock
Stan Wawrinka 9 Stan Wawrinka
Pablo Carreno Busta 10 Pablo Carreno Busta
Juan Martin del Potro 11 Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic 12 Juan Martin del Potro
Sam Querrey 13 Sam Querrey
Kevin Anderson 14 Kevin Anderson
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 15 Andy Murray
Andy Murray 16 Lucas Pouille
John Isner 17 John Isner
Lucas Pouille 18 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Tomas Berdych 19 Roberto Bautista Agut
Roberto Bautista Agut 20 Tomas Berdych

Here’s how the WTA system works, according to

“The WTA rankings are based on a 52-week, cumulative system. A player’s ranking is determined by her results at a maximum of 16 tournaments for singles and 11 for doubles.

“The tournaments that count towards a player’s ranking are those that yield the highest ranking points during the rolling 52-week period. They must include points from the Grand Slams and Premier Mandatory tournaments; for those players who qualify, ranking points earned at the WTA Finals will count as the 17th bonus tournament. For Top 20 players, their best two results at Premier 5 tournaments (Doha, Rome, Cincinnati, Toronto and Wuhan) will also count.”

The minor difference between the two systems is the number of players’ results the ranking system considers; the WTA caps it at 16, while the ATP permits 18.

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The major difference is the number of “countable” tournaments. While the ATP requires players to include their results from the four majors, eight of nine Masters events, and, for top-30 players, their four highest points totals from 500-level events, the WTA factors less mandatory events into each players’ points tally.

On the WTA tour, players are also awarded more handsomely for early-round losses. Marin Cilic walked away from the ATP Finals winless, which under the ATP system meant he earned zero points in London. Using the WTA system, he earned 375 points, because the women’s rankings reward players with 125 points for each round-robin loss at the WTA Finals. In another example, second- and third-round losers at Grand Slams earn 70 and 130 points under the WTA system; on the men’s side, it’s just 45 and 90 points respectively.

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Although it’s not a perfect adaptation, here’s how we applied the WTA points system to the ATP top 20:

  • the Grand Slams remained the same
  • the ATP Finals were treated as the WTA Finals
  • Masters events at Indian Wells, Miami and Madrid were considered as Premier Mandatories, as was Shanghai (the closest equivalent of the WTA’s China Open)
  • the five remaining Masters events – Monte Carlo, Rome, Canada, Cincinnati and Paris – became the WTA Premier 5 events
  • in the “next best” category, ATP 500s became WTA Premiers, and ATP 250s became WTA Internationals

Players highlighted in yellow in the rankings table finished in last year’s ATP top 20; under WTA rules, top 20 players are required to include their best two “Premier 5” results in the ranking (which are also highlighted in yellow).

No.4 Zverev closed the gap on third-ranked Dimitrov under the WTA system to 355 points, from 540 points in the ATP rankings. This is mostly due to Zverev’s higher points total for going 1-2 in London and failing to reach the semifinals (500 points according to the WTA system, while just 200 using the ATP system).

VIDEO: Djokovic overcome with emotion

In other changes, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro swapped places (although their points tallies under both systems were extremely similar) while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga fell three places from No.15 (ATP system) to 18th (WTA system).

This seems more drastic that it perhaps actually was; with players from 15th to 19th bunched up so closely – just 100 points separated all of them – Tsonga could have avoided this fall by simply winning one or two more matches at a single tournament.

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