Carlos Alcaraz and the weird ATP rankings scheme

The rankings points can be a bit weird for tennis, but Alcaraz is where he should be despite ridiculous success.
Carlos Alcaraz at Wimbledon 2024
Carlos Alcaraz at Wimbledon 2024 / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

For those who do not follow rankings points for tennis closely, they can be a bit confusing. A player who won a Grand Slam last year has his points for winning fall off just before the same major this year? What? How does that make sense?

The truth is that the ATP and WTA rankings reward players who consistently do well in tournaments and players who won events the previous year have to prove they are worthy of those same points the next. A player could be a runner-up at a major and actually lose points if they won the same tournament last year. This is why points are not accrued in a normal calendar year but on a rotating basis.

This is where Carlos Alcaraz comes in. Should Alcaraz win Wimbledon for the second-straight year, he will have won his fourth major in less than two years as well as his second-straight Grand Slam. He still will trail Jannik Sinner for the top spot on the ATP. Alcaraz is a prisoner of his own success at Wimbledon 2023; he cannot grow his points at the event, but he can lose points.

Carlos Alcaraz burdened by his own success

In fact, should Alcaraz lose relatively early at Wimbledon - unlikely but possible - and Alexander Zverev do well, the Spaniard might fall to No. 4 on the tour. Sinner would be well ahead of him. That would be a strange scenario for a 21-year-old who has won three majors and held to the No. 1 ranking in his career.

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However, there is hope later in the year for Alcaraz. He tends to fade a bit as summer turns to fall. This is either due to injuries or maybe fatigue. After winning Wimbledon last July, he did not win another tournament. Sinner, meanwhile, won three. Novak Djokovic, the current No. 2, won every event he entered after losing to Alcaraz at Wimbledon.

This means if the Spaniard can stay healthy for once late in a year and maintain his good form, he could pick up a lot of ground before the year ends. He might fall to No. 4 after Wimbledon. He could be back to No. 1 by the time the ATP Finals are done.

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