Monday, August 09, 1999

ATP to overhaul rank system


New system to be more of a race year-to-year

BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — The No.1 ranking in men's tennis has changed hands seven times this year, the most since 1983. And there have been a record five different players atop the poll (Pete Sampras, Patrick Rafter, Andre Agassi, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Carlos Moya).

        Sampras, the top seed at the Great American Insurance ATP Championship, will remain No.1 when the new rankings come out today for the record 272nd week in his career.

        But starting Jan. 1, the ranking system changes.

CHANGING HANDS
  No. 1 in 1999
  • Pete Sampras: (29 consecutive weeks dating back to Aug. 24, 1998)
  • March 15: Carlos Moya (2 weeks)
  • March 29: Sampras (5 weeks)
  • May 3: Yevgeny Kafelnikov (6 weeks)
  • June 14: Sampras (3 weeks)
  • July 5: Andre Agassi (3 weeks)
  • July 26: Patrick Rafter (1 week)
  • Aug. 2: Sampras

 All-time top five
  • Sampras 271
  • Ivan Lendl 270
  • Jimmy Connors 268
  • John McEnroe 170
  • Bjorn Borg 109

        The ATP Tour hopes it will be easier for fans to follow next year. The players are undecided. There is some concern that people will be more confused than ever.

        “They think it's going to be better for the players, for the tour and for the spectators,” eighth-ranked Alex Corretja said. “I respect the decision. We will have to see if it works good or not. I hope so. I don't know if I think so.”

        • How does the present computer ranking system work?

        It is based on a players' best 14 results during the previous 52-week period. Players receive tournament points and bonus points at each tour nament in which they participate.

        Tournament points are based on what round a player reaches. Bonus points are awarded based on the opponents' rankings.

        “I don't know the calculating system with the tournament points and bonus points, but I think it's nice to have the 12-month ranking,” No.7 Richard Krajicek said.

        • How will the new ranking system work?

        Everyone gets a fresh start on Jan. 1. The winner of the first tournament of the year will be No.1. A points race will continue through the year, with totals increasing weekly.

        The ranking will be based on a maximum of 18 events — the four Grand Slams, all the Super 9s and any five other events for top players.

        There also will be an internal ranking system kept by the ATP Tour which will be used for seeding and entry purposes. That will be based on the same new system, but for a 52-week period.

        A player might be No.1 in the “standings,” yet come into an event unseeded.


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        “If they make it clear, then OK, but if Pete's 60 (in the standings) and then top seeded, it will be confusing,” Corretja said.

        The rankings got especially perplexing for tennis fans this year:

        • Kafelnikov lost his opening match in seven straight events, then became No.1 (May 3).

        • After Agassi won the French Open, Sampras became No.1 (June 14).

        • Two weeks after Sampras won Wimbledon, Agassi became No.1 (July 5).

        • Without winning a tournament, Rafter became No.1 (July 26).

        “It does open the doors to just some freaky things,” Sampras said. “... The way the current system is, it just comes down to December. I'm not so sure how good it looks for the sport to have four or five different No.1s. It sure is exciting, but I think you can get a little bit lost in the shuffle and lose a little bit of respect.

        “Now with the new ranking system ... it's more of a race than a ranking. I think that's just much easier to follow, much easier to talk about and people will understand it better.”

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