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I have noticed that Benoit Paire plays this week challenger tournament in Sophia Antipolis and he is listed among players who received wildcard. Paire is currently No. 40 in ATP rankings.

Does a player from top 50 need a wildcard in order to play in a challenger tournament? Are there some other restrictions which could prevent players which are high in ATP rankings from playing ATP Challenger Tour?

  • I have encountered the claim about top 50 players needing wild card in an internet discussion - although it seemed a bit suspicious to me. Then it occurred to me that the reason might be late entry - I have asked a separate question, which mentions also cases where this happened in higher level tournaments (ATP World Tour, WTA Tour). Sorry for posting two questions which are rather similar so close after each other. – Martin Apr 9 '17 at 12:20
  • See your other question where I provided a comment on it - since it seems you were already familiar with the reason why this happens. – jamauss Apr 9 '17 at 22:40
  • @jamauss I found some rule in the ATP Rulebook which seems to confirm it. Still, I am able to find a few cases where top 50 players played in challenger tournaments without wild cards. – Martin Apr 11 '17 at 0:22
  • Interesting. I'm not sure if those rules are strictly enforced or not and I also wonder if the tournament directors are given discretion to allow certain players to participate in challengers. It seems as though you've found some exceptions to the rule(s). – jamauss Apr 11 '17 at 6:35
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After checking 2017 ATP Rulebook (Internet Archive) I found out that there are indeed restrictions for high ranked players which disallow them playing at challenger level without receiving a wild card.

Here is quote of the relevant section:

7.07 Play-Up Regulation (ATP Challenger Tour Tournaments)

A. Restrictions

1) Players positioned 1-10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings twenty-one (21) days prior to the first Monday of the ATP Challenger Tour tournament are prohibited from entering, accepting a wild card and/or competing in an ATP Challenger Tour tournament. Players who would have been, had they and all other players entered, a direct acceptance on the original acceptance list for a Grand Slam are prohibited from entering, accepting a wild card and/or competing in an ATP Challenger Tour tournament in the first week of the Grand Slam tournament.

2) Players positioned 11-50 in the Emirates ATP Rankings twenty-one (21) days prior to the first Monday of the ATP Challenger Tour tournament are prohibited from entering but may receive an ATP-approved wild card in order to compete in the Challenger tournament. The Challenger Supervisor will make wild card determinations consistent with the limitations outlined below. Players positioned 11-50 are also prohibited from entering, accepting a wild card or competing in ATP Challenger Tour tournaments that offer less than $75,000/€64,000 in on-site prize money plus Hospitality.

3) ATP Challenger Tour tournaments scheduled the same week as an ATP World Tour tournament may offer wild cards to players positioned 11-50 in the Emirates ATP Rankings who have received approval from the ATP on-site Supervisor according to the following breakdown:
$150,000/€127,000 in prize money up to (2) two wild cards
$125,000/€106,000 in prize money up to (2) one wild card
$100,000/€85,000 in prize money up to (1) one wild card
$75,000/€64,000 in prize money plus Hospitality up to (1) one wild card
$75,000*/€64,000* in prize money no wild card
*Plus Hospitality

4) ATP Challenger Tour tournaments not scheduled in the same week as ATP World Tour tournaments, or during the 2nd week of a Grand Slam, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami and Indian Wells, may offer wild cards to players positioned 11-50 in the Emirates ATP Rankings who have received approval from the ATP on-site Supervisor according to the following breakdown:
$150,000/€127,000 in prize money up to (4) four wild cards
$125,000/€106,000 in prize money up to (4) four wild cards
$100,000/€85,000 in prize money up to (3) three wild cards
$75,000/€64,000 in prize money plus Hospitality up to (2) two wild cards
$75,000*/€64,000*in prize money no wild card
*Plus Hospitality

I will ad also link to this blog post from 2015, which analyses success rate of Top 50 players in challengers: Benoit Paire and Overqualified Challenger Contenders.

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