Explaining the WTA Points Ranking
With the coronavirus shutting down the sporting world we thought now was a good time to explain the point ranking system in the WTA.
The points ranking is one of the most important things in professional tennis.
Over the course of 52 weeks, the WTA Tour players try to score the maximum amount of points available to claim the number 1 crown at the end of the year.
For those new to the sport, this rating system can look fairly difficult to understand at first glance.
After all, the scoring isn’t straightforward, and the many different tournaments pay off a varying number of points.
Let’s take a look at how the WTA points ranking works.
In order to enter a tournament, a player must first earn eligibility.
The climb starts from the ITF tournaments, which are open for all professional players.
The WTA 125k and the WTA Tour events, meanwhile, require the entrants to achieve a specific ranking in order to earn eligibility.
A tournament is split into a qualifying round and a main draw.
The main draw will usually feature from 28 up to 96 players, depending on the tournament.
The tournament’s organization is also awarded a number of wild card entries, which allow for players that do not meet the qualifying criteria to enter the main draw.
These entries are given out at the discretion of the tournament’s organization.
Let’s use this year’s canceled Brisbane International as an example.
The main draw featured 32 players, with four coming from qualifying, while the other four were awarded wild card entries.
The 24 best-ranked players that had initially signed up for the tournament were then given direct entries into the main draw.
Four players that did not meet this criterion were then awarded with wildcard entries.
Finally, 32 players were distributed in four qualifying brackets to fill the remaining four spots.
Each bracket is a miniature three-round, single-elimination tournament, with the winner from each bracket being awarded an entry into the main draw.
Depending on the number of players in the main draw, the highest seeds, as decided by the points ranking, are given a first-round bye.
If a player withdraws from the main draw, then the top-ranked player eliminated from the final round of qualifying is drafted in as the “lucky loser”.
Every tournament in the Tour follows this same format, with the number of entrants being the only variable.
The main draw is a single-elimination tournament, with the top 2 seeds starting at the opposite ends to make sure their paths don’t cross before the final.
How the WTA Tour Points System Works
The WTA has a total of 14 different tournament types, with two year-end finals.
The low-level events are run by the International Tennis Federation or ITF for short.
ITF-level tournaments pay from 50 up to 150 points to the champion.
Eligible players may then move on to the WTA 125k level, which pays 160 points.
Once a player achieves a high enough rank, she may then move on to the WTA Tour level.
While all these tournaments count towards the points ranking, they aren’t considered part of the WTA Tour, which works merely for statistical purposes.
The WTA Tour has five different tournaments.
It begins at the WTA International level, which pays off 280 points to the champion.
Next up the order are the WTA Premier events, with a 470-point reward.
Then come the WTA Premier 5 events, which pay off 900 points to the winner.
The WTA Premier Mandatory events pay off 1,000 points.
Finally, we have the majors, or slams, which pay off 2,000 points to the champion.
The WTA Tour has four slams, four Premier Mandatory tournaments, five Premier 5 events, 12 Premier and 32 International level tournaments.
The top 8 players at the end of October qualify for the year-end WTA Finals, while positions 9 to 16 qualify for the other year-end tournament, the Elite Trophy.
A player’s final points ranking consists of 16 results.
For top players, this means the four slams, the four Premier Mandatory, the five Premier 5, one year-end tournament and two Premier or International events.
The ranking gets updated every week, with the results counting back to the last 52 weeks.
As a result, the points total mixes results from the current and from the previous year.
When entering a tournament, a player has to defend the points from the previous edition.
By going farther, the player is then awarded more points, while an early elimination means losing points compared to the previous week’s standings.
Check out the top 5 WTA earners in 2019.