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How many tournaments does a professional tennis player have to play in a year?

I am looking to understand the workload of a top ten player in view of the complaint by Rafael Nadal during the 2018 Australian Open that player workload and scheduling is resulting in injuries to many players.

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According to the ATP world tour ranking FAQ (i.e. for men's tennis), a player's world ranking is calculated from:

  • The four Grand Slams
  • The eight World Masters 1000 tournaments
  • The ATP World Tour finals
  • The player's best six results from other ranking tournaments.

If a player fails to qualify for a Grand Slam or Masters, he can count an additional other tournament. But if he qualifies and does not participate, the Grand Slam/Masters result is the one that counts.

So that means that a player has to take part in 18-19 tournaments so as not to actively lose out on ranking points - but the more the better (since more tournaments means you discard poor results).


For women's tennis, Wikipedia suggests that it's the best 16 points scores from ranking tournaments, including:

  • the 4 Grand Slams
  • the 4 Premier Mandatory tournaments
  • the WTA Finals

I'd imagine the same or similar rules apply to in the men's case for players who do not qualify for Grand Slams, WTA Finals and Premier Mandatory tournaments.

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There is no minimum requirement for how many tournaments a player must partake in order to stay a professional. However, if a player does not play any tournaments then they will have zero ATP/WTA points and will effectively no longer be a professional. If you're looking to find exactly how many games and tournaments Nadal plays then that information can be found here. Ultimately in 2017, he played 18 tournaments and 78 matches. His complaint is understandable but it is his choice to play that many matches in order to try and compete for the top of the ATP rankings. He is currently #1 in the ATP rankings and he obviously wouldn't be able to maintain that status without playing such an obscene number of matches.

  • "he obviously wouldn't" - really? Please provide an analysis to demonstrate his ranking must drop should he play any fewer tournaments or not play any of the tournaments he did. – Nij Jan 31 '18 at 4:36
  • +Nij I thought that was super self-explanatory. He is in first over Federer by a very slim margin, if he had played even one less tournament he would not have more points than him. Are you confused about how the ATP system works? It's pretty apparent you need to play a large number of games in order to secure points. Losing tournaments doesn't negatively impact you in the standings whatsoever, other than the fact that if you play every tournament you'll be exhausted and probably get injured. – Bob Smith Jan 31 '18 at 7:44
  • If any tournament provided fewer points than the gap in total points, it wouldn't change the ranking to drop that tournament. So without showing the individual tournament point gains compared to the difference, it is neither obvious nor self-explanatory. – Nij Jan 31 '18 at 8:43
  • Unrelated: you need to use @ when trying to ping someone. There is a useful quirk that made your comment ping me regardless, and a different quirk that will make these ping you, but they can't generally be relied on. – Nij Jan 31 '18 at 8:45
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The only players required to play specific tournaments are commitment players.
These are the Top 30 players as they enter the ATP Finals of the previous year.
A 2018 ATP commitment player is any player positioned in the Top 30 in the ATP 2017 Rankings as of November 6, 2017.
The commitment for the commitment player is, the singles event of all :

  1. ATP World Tour Masters (except Monte-Carlo, see note) 1000 tournaments for which he is accepted
  2. The ATP Finals (if qualified as a direct acceptance or designated as the alternate)
  3. 4 ATP World Tour 500 tournaments, 1 of which must be held following the US Open.

Note: For commitment and ranking purposes, the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 will be included in the minimum requirements for the 500 category.

To sum up, a commitment player is required to play 8 + 1 + 4 = 13 tournaments next year.

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