The ATP's decision to extend its changes to the ranking system during the coronavirus pandemic has received mixed reaction from players. Some have found it tough to move up the rankings, while others back the greater flexibility and protection offered during this period.
World No. 7 Alexander Zverev says it has made the rankings less relevant.
The interim system allows players to count points from up to the past two years instead of one (depending on the tournament). Zverev, who finished 2020 with back-to-back titles in Cologne and runner-up finishes at the Paris Masters and US Open, notes that he's still ranked behind No. 6 Roger Federer—who has played just one event in the previous year.
"The ranking doesn’t really matter, especially with the system that we have now," Zverev, 23, was quoted as telling press at Acapulco, where he is playing this week. "I should be Top 4, Top 5 in the world right now in the normal ranking system. But the ranking system that we have now is a little bit absurd.
"I am the biggest fan of Roger Federer, but he hasn’t played in a year and he is ahead of me in the rankings. Right now the ranking system is just so messed up that you don’t need to pay attention to it."
Andrey Rublev, who has won four consecutive ATP 500 tournaments, most recently in Rotterdam, would also prefer a return to the regular system.
"If we would have the normal system, I would be like No. 4 in the world I think. So what do you think is better for me, to be No. 8 or No. 4?" he was quoted as saying at this week's event in Dubai. "With the system that we're having now, for me, it's much tougher to be No. 4, so here is the answer."
While the original change allowed players to count their full points from an event in either 2019 or 2020, the ATP has announced that points older than a year will now be counted as 50 percent of their full value. This reduces the weight of older events, but is still more than the regular system.
Denis Shapovalov says he understands the frustration of fellow players, though he is happy he will get to keep half his Miami semifinals points if he doesn't go deep at the event next week—especially since he plans to play a reduced schedule.
"There's always going to be positives and negatives in the rankings system. Honestly, I don't know," the world No. 12 said in Dubai. "I was amazed Rublev has won like 25 [ATP] 500s and he hasn’t been able to climb so much. So one sense, it's good you're not dropping, but on the other sense, it's difficult to climb, so I'm not really sure."
Measured words from Denis Shapovalov on the pros & cons of the revised ranking system currently in place:— Reem Abulleil (@ReemAbulleil) March 17, 2021
"I was amazed Rublev has won like 25 500s & he hasn’t been able to climb so much. In one sense, it’s good you’re not dropping but on the other it’s difficult to climb." pic.twitter.com/AUupUbTY1I
Stefanos Tsitsipas, who moved in front of Federer by reaching No. 5 in the rankings this week, said players should concentrate on their own performances, regardless of the system used.
"I understand Zverev's position and I understand what he wants to say, but at the same time there is also something fair about this system, which has also helped the players in recent months," he was quoted as saying by local press in Acapulco. "It's really up to us to improve in the rankings and we've had all kinds of opportunities to do that in these couple of months when Federer hasn't been playing."
Tsitsipas added that he doesn't want to spend a lot of attention on such issues.
"To be honest, I don't want to get involved in the ATP [Player] Council. I think that is the job of the ATP, to keep building everything for the players," said the 22-year-old from Greece. "Obviously here are players who keep an eye on their interests and really on mine and all the rest, so I leave these topics for them."