ATP Rankings Flawed: Who's Really No. 1?

Sam YoungerContributor IIMarch 27, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 25:  Roger Federer of Switzerland poses with the ATP World Tour Champion Trophy during the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena on November 25, 2009 in London, England.  Federer was crowned ATP World Tour Champion for the fifth time, after becoming just the second player in the history of the ATP Rankings to regain the year-end No. 1 ranking. Federer clinched the 2009 ATP World Tour Champion title by beating Andy Murray at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on November 24.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

I regularly go to atpworldtour.com to check news, or make my picks for upcoming tournaments, so on Monday, the day after Ivan Ljubicic defeated Andy Roddick to win Indian Wells, I scrolled down to the movers of the week, to see how far up Ivan had jumped.

The two movers were of course Ljubicic, who had jumped 13 spots to be No. 13 in the world. The second was Andy Murray, who had jumped one spot to attain the No. 3 ranking.

I rubbed my eyes to make sure I had read correctly, Murray had lost in the quarterfinals to Robin Soderling, whereas the previous No. 3, Rafael Nadal had gotten to the semis and lost to Ljubicic.

There was my confusion, if Murray had improved on his past result, fine, he could gain points and jump Nadal. But, the previous year, Nadal had defeated Murray in the championship. Both of them should have been subtracted points, and around the same amount, leaving the ranking intact. Instead, Rafa lost 640 points, and Murray only lost 420?

Instead of confusing the fans, the rules should be simple:

We'll take an ATP 1,000 tourney as our example

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The champion gains 800 points

The runner-up gains 650 points

The semifinalists gain 400 points

The quarter-finalists gain 250 points

The fourth-rounders gain 100 points

The third rounders gain 0

The second rounders who won one match gain 0

The second rounders who had a bye lose 150 points

The first rounders lose 200 points

In January, you keep your points from the 12-month cycle, and in February, you keep your points from that one-year long cycle.

In that tourney, Rafa would have gained more points than Murray, and kept his three spot.

The current rankings mean that your result relies on your past result, there is no points gained for a repeating champ, you lose points for being a finalist if you won the year before.

My updated rankings make you have to win at least three matches to gain points, and you gain points from there on out. Those rankings would be much more fair.

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