September 30, 2022

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Imagine this happening in your industry: Posted online and regularly updated for the world to see, it’s an objective black-and-white assessment of how you’re doing over the past 52 weeks, how you compare to your colleagues and competitors, and how your current status compares to a day, a week, a month, a year ago.

This is basically the ranking of a professional tennis player. Match wins are rewarded with points, which typically remain on a player’s record for 12 months and then disappear. They are, in many ways, the currency of sport.

“It’s the most stressful thing about our work,” said Paula Badosa, a Spaniard who entered Wimbledon at No. 3 in the women’s rankings. “We spend so much time thinking about the standings: ‘If you win this game…’ or ‘If you lose to this player, you’re going to lose your place.’ It’s a lot.”

At Wimbledon, the Grand Slam tournament which ends on Sunday, there is an additional – and unprecedented – source of anxiety: no one earns ranking points. That’s because the WTA Women’s Tour and the men’s ATP Tour decided not to distribute them in response to the All England Club banning Russian athletes and Belarus on the war in Ukraine.

So someone like Ons Jabeur deals with two sets of emotions. She is delighted, of course, with what she has done over the past week and a half on the grass courts, reaching her first Grand Slam semi-final and becoming the first Arab woman to go this far in a tournament. major. Her five wins brought her closer to the trophy and made big money (at least 535,000 pounds, or about $640,000).

There is also a bit of depression in the middle of the euphoria.

“I’m not going to lie to you. The more good you do, the more you regret not having (got) points,” said Jabeur, a 27-year-old Tunisian ranked No. 2 and who will face his close friend Tatjana Maria, 34, of Germany in the semis. -final Thursday. .

“I don’t just look at myself, but I also look at Tatjana,” Jabeur said. “Now she is having a good race and she has no points.”

A player like Maria, ranked 103rd, loses the jump she would have received for doing so well a year after missing Wimbledon because she had just given birth.

And players who did well at the event a year ago don’t get a chance to “defend” those points. The 2,000 won by Novak Djokovic for his 2021 championship, for example, will simply drop his record next week with zero resupply, even if he finds himself with the title again.

Returning a season later to the site of success can weigh on athletes who are well aware that those year-old spots are about to disappear.

” It’s inevitable. And if you don’t think about it, people remind you,” said Tamara Zidansek, a 24-year-old Slovenian who reached the French Open semi-finals despite being ranked No. 85 in 2021.

It was the main reason for his rise to a career-best number 22; she fell to No. 60 after losing in the third round in Paris in 2022.

“It’s probably different for everyone, but I spend a lot of time thinking about the rankings,” said Taylor Fritz, the highest-ranked American at No. 13 entering Wimbledon, who won’t get the significant bump. that his quarter-final appearance on Wednesday would usually bring. “It’s a big part of my goals to be top 10, top five.”

Djokovic already holds the men’s record for most weeks at No. 1 – he is now No. 3 behind reigning US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, who is Russian and banned from Wimbledon – and has said he does not wasn’t as concerned about rankings as he once was. This could be a good thing as the new updated ‘Live Rankings’ from the ATP unveiled as part of a recent sponsorship deal shows he will drop to 7th next week.

A vocal critic of the tour ban and response, Djokovic believes that “more than 90% of players who play in this tournament, and those who don’t, will be most affected by” the zero points situation. than he will.

So true. The rankings are a “benchmark”, as 2021 US Open semi-finalist Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada put it.

As he also noted, they are so much more than that. Approval agreements can be tied to ratings. Favorable rankings, which could make it easier to pass through a support, go through the ranking. Access to the tournament main draws is based on rankings.

“That’s how the system works,” said Auger-Aliassime, who lost in the first round last week, “and you have to accept early in your career that it’s going to happen.”

Another way the ratings affect things: When entering each match, an easy way to guess the possible outcome is to look at the numbers next to each player’s name.

The fans do that. Just like the media. And the players too.

The highest rated is the one who, at a basic and theoretical level, is “supposed” to win.

“My mind is pretty silly sometimes, where I find more negatives than positives in every situation. So I try not to think about it too much, but at the same time, I’m human. So when I play against someone higher ranked, it’s natural that I’m the underdog,” said Ajla Tomljanovic, a 44th-ranked Australian who lost in the quarterfinals on Wednesday to 23rd-ranked Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan. “I can feel my nerves rising and, especially if it’s not going my way, I can be quicker to react and think, ‘Oh my God!’ and start to panic.

Gamers know how easy – and unhealthy – it can be to become obsessed with rankings.

“I stopped looking at points and rankings because I felt it wouldn’t help me,” said Denis Shapovalov, a semi-finalist last year at Wimbledon who was in the top 10 and is now n ° 16. look at my game and how I can improve and where I am in terms of level.

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