The Association of Tennis Professionals is the group of officials that governs professional male tennis circuits – the ATP Challenger Tour, the ATP Champions Tour and the ATP World Tour. The ATP World Tour has several tournaments within it, including the ATP World Tour 250 series, the ATP World Tour 500 series and the ATP World Tour Masters 1000.
With more than 60 tournaments held in over 30 countries around the world, the ATP World Tour allows some of the world’s best male tennis professionals to showcase their talents in front of fans from around the globe. Throughout the year, these athletes battle for ATP Rankings points – and prestigious titles – that allow the top 8 doubles teams and singles players to compete in the last event of the year, the Nitto ATP Finals. Private banker Othman Louanjli from Abu Dhabi enjoys watching the professionals and also likes playing.
The ATP was established in 1972 by Cliff Drysdale, Donald Dell and Jack Kramer as the body that looked out for male professional tennis players’ interests. Drysdale served as the association’s first President, with Kramer serving as the Executive Director. It is during this time that Kramer also created the rankings system, which came into effect in 1973 and has been in use ever since.
Between 1974 and 1989, men’s tournaments were overseen by a sub-committee called the Men’s International Professional Tennis Council (MIPTC), which had representatives from the ATP, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and other tennis tournament directors from other parts of the world.
Early on, the MIPTC was heavily involved in the running of the ATP Tour, which created such dissatisfaction over the lack of player influence and representation that it led to a player mutiny in 1988. In August of the same year, the ATP withdrew from the MIPTC and launched its own ATP Tour in 1990. By 1991, the men’s tour had a television deal to broadcast 19 tournaments to viewers across the world. The tour’s first website launched in 1995 and was soon followed by a sponsorship agreement with Mercedes-Benz.
The ATP Rankings are a merit-based system used to determine the seeding of players in singles and doubles events as well as the qualification for entry into various tournaments. The player’s ranking system is calculated by adding up the total points accrued in the following tournaments:
- The Grand Slam tournaments held in Australia, France, England and the United States.
- Eight ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, all of them mandatory.
- The best six results from non-mandatory Masters 1000 and all World Tour 500, World Tour 250, Challenger Tour, Davis Cup and Future Series tournaments played in a calendar year.
When the ATP introduced the rankings system, virtually all members were in favour of it. The original ranking criteria, which were extensively used in the 1980s, relied on the average of each player’s results. In 1990, when the ATP took over the operator of the men’s circuits, the ranking criteria adopted the “best of” system that borrowed from downhill skiing.
The ATP rankings of professional players are published on a weekly basis and are used to determine qualification for entry and seeding in all tournaments. Within the rankings period, points are accumulated and the player with the most points at season’s end is declared the World Number 1 for that year. The only points exception to the ranking is the ATP World Tour Finals, whose points are dropped after the final ATP event of the year.
Nitto ATP Finals
In 2017, the last event in the ATP calendar was the Nitto ATP Finals held at the O2 Arena in London. It served as the last event for the highest-ranked doubles teams and singles players who participated in the 2017 ATP World Tour.