The decision to strip Wimbledon of rankings points will have huge repercussions for the sport, leaving the rankings effectively “null and void” for the next 13 months, according to Australian tennis legend Todd Woodbridge.
The sport’s most prestigious event was stripped of rankings points following the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players, over the invasion of Ukraine.
But the implications of such a decision are far reaching.
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Novak Djokovic, who will forfeit his world No.1 ranking in the next fortnight, will fall further down the rankings by virtue of the fact he can’t defend the points he accumulated by winning Wimbledon last year.
Djokovic received 2000 points for winning in 2021, while Daniil Medvedev‘s fourth round appearance earned him just 180.
It raises the absurd possibility that Djokovic will lose points relative to Medvedev, even if he wins Wimbledon, a tournament the Russian player is banned from competing in.
Perhaps even more ridiculous, Rafael Nadal could be the reigning Australian Open, Roland-Garros and Wimbledon champion, and still not be ranked number one.
The situation won’t be resolved until after Wimbledon 2023, assuming points are once again available at the All England Club.
“With all the scenarios that could play out, the ATP has effectively ruined their own rankings system,” Woodbridge told Wide World of Sports.
“By virtue of the decision they’ve made, the rankings are inaccurate and don’t reflect reality.
“It’s been a very accurate system in the past, but it will be another 13 months before we get the rankings back to where we have the players in their right place. They’re effectively null and void.
“There are more people that suffer from this decision than just the Russians and Belarusians.”
Hungarian player Márton Fucsovics, a quarter finalist at SW19 last year, pointed out on social media that he will drop from his current ranking of 57 to outside the top 100.
He wrote on Instagram: “No ranking points in Wimbledon and ranking points will drop from 2021. No chance to defend them. Are you serious ATP Tour? From No.60, I will drop to 130. Thank you”.
Woodbridge explained that many like Fucsovics will suffer.
“This is where the ATP and WTA has got the whole thing wrong. What’s happened now is that every player is being punished, and it will have a trickle down effect across the board,” he said.
“Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic will suffer, she made the quarter finals at Wimbledon last year and has no opportunity to defend those points.
“It just does not seem fair that for the benefit of a handful of players, a much larger number will suffer.
“It has a massive impact in the back half of the year, in terms of who gets into tournaments, or who is seeded. The repercussions are huge.”
Woodbridge backed former player Tim Henman, now a member of the AELTC board, who recently told Eurosport the club was left with little choice.
“There’s no winners,” Henman said.
“The directive from the government is that the players are not allowed to play as neutral athletes. Are Wimbledon expected to turn around and say to the government, actually we think we know better? It’s not going to happen.
“Then the next question is, are you going to get the players to sign a declaration against the government in Russia, and the war?
“The stance from Wimbledon is there’s no way they’re going to jeopardise the safety of players and their extended family. That’s before you talk about the propaganda of a Russian or Belarusian receiving a trophy on centre court.
“Your first two options are horrific, and your third option is you don’t invite the Russian or Belarusian players. They’re horrific decisions whichever way you turn.
“That’s not much fun to be a part of.”
Woodbridge said the grand slam tournaments are the backbone of the tennis year, subsidising the lead-in events. He pointed out that the events that make up the Australian summer are heavily subsidised by the Australian Open, likewise the LTA funds the grasscourt tournaments ahead of Wimbledon.
He also noted the “significant” financial implications for the top players, whose endorsement deals have considerable financial bonuses relating to their ranking, both where they get to, and where they finish the year.
“The International Tennis Federation’s decision to take points away from both the junior and wheelchair competitions is also surprising, as their leadership continues to strangely separate itself from the grand slam tournaments, with which they have historically been aligned,” Woodbridge said.
“This is the most fragile the tennis political landscape has looked in my time. It’s a far bigger issue than just saying we’ll take points away.
“If the ATP or the WTA was serious, they’d look at a boycott, but that’s the last thing anyone wants.”
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