Slowly, step by step tennis is starting to come out of the darkness of COVID-19. There is still a very long way to go but maybe, just maybe, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and with the continued rollout of the various vaccines more will open up. Taking all that into consideration the ATP has announced a package of measures to support players and tournaments while still under coronavirus conditions.


Some players have objected to concerns about prize money levels being cut which in the public eye has not gone down too well but the new proposals are address that at the 250 and 500 level of events along with a number of other aspects including the rankings system. A new protected ranking provision aims to give players additional security in the present environment along with several player support team allowances on-site at events.

Between the Australian Open and Wimbledon, minimum prize money levels for ATP 250 and ATP 500 tournaments will increase from 50% to 80% and 60% respectively.

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. That was certainly pointed remark as to who the tour feels are the stabilising players in men’s tennis

Andrea Gaudenzi, the ATP Chairman said tournament revenues continue to be severely impacted and any reasonable improvement is not likely till the second half of the year but even then, there is no guarantee. The ATP’s focus and rightly so is to “ensure the tour continues supporting as many players as possible”. 

The ATP ranking is the area that is the most complex as the ATP extends the ‘Best Of’ reasoning for the rankings through the week of 9 August 2021. Results from all events between 4 March and 5 August 2019, which were not played in 2020, will be extended a further 52 weeks and weighted at 50%. A player, as an example, 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.

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 16 August 2021. Providing no further changes are made, this means that a traditional ranking, incorporating only results from the previous 52 weeks, will apply again on 15 August 2022.

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 (reason for that is those events are independent and not part of the ATP tour), 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.

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. Additional PST members may now be permitted within specific on-site locations and the official hotel, subject to availability and full COVID-19 protocols.

Tournaments and players will be covered (at least in part) financially against unanticipated costs relating to health and safety as 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.