OPINION ON: ATP and ITF Agree on Ranking Points for Davis Cup
by Richard Vach | April 9th, 2008, 10:11 am

Starting in 2009, ATP players will receive ranking points for competing in Davis Cup, a dicey proposition since generally only two singles players from each country get the opportunity to compete for singles points during each tie, leaving lower-ranked players and practice partners out of the points mix.

At the same time, ATP and ITF officials are hoping that ranking points will attract more top players to compete in the prestigious international event. Over the years with the increased demands of the tour, many top players such as world No. 1 Roger Federer, former No. 1 Carlos Moya, Tim Henman before he retired, etc., have taken a pass on the competition to concentrate on their rankings.

“This is a win/win situation for Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and the ATP,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti. “The calendar is stabilized for the upcoming years [until 2013] in the model that the top players requested and, for the first time in history, Davis Cup players will receive well-deserved ranking points for their performance in the competition.”

Ranking points will be awarded for singles and doubles rubbers played only in the elite World Group and World Group Play-off Round, leaving lower-ranked countries and players out of the mix, further distancing them from the top players. But the ATP says it will be worth it to lift Davis Cup, which is not even their event, owned by the ITF.

“We are delighted to award South African Airways ranking points for Davis Cup starting in 2009,” said Etienne de Villiers, ATP’s Executive Chairman. “The new ATP tour structure for 2009 is about providing fans, broadcasters and sponsors with the very best circuit possible. Like the tour, Davis Cup is a key component to the growth and future of tennis. We look forward to an exciting and memorable season to come.”

Davis Cup will be awarded ranking points under the following structure: a) Accumulated points over the preceding 52-week period for the 4 rounds of Davis Cup and the play-off round will count as one result. For 2009 onwards, this will be one of the tournaments in the new premium tier “500″ category, the best of which count towards a player’s ranking; b) Points will not be awarded for dead rubbers; c) Players who don’t play a round of matches will be awarded points based on the immediately preceding round (i.e. a player who doesn’t play the first round but plays the second round will earn 40 points for each singles match won in that second round).

Again, a dicey proposition, creating another event like the Masters Cup where only the top players receive points, further separating them from the middle pack. At the same time the Davis Cup has been in a downward slide, and organizers needed to take action before it became completely irrelevant like the women’s Fed Cup, where top players blowing off the competition (see: Williams sisters skipping the U.S.’s upcoming semifinal) has become the norm.

Before waiting a year or two to see how this unfolds, pending props to de Villiers and Ricci Bitti for proactively addressing the slumping Davis Cup, which should be held up as tennis’, if not one of sports’ greatest competitions.

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19 Comments for OPINION ON: ATP and ITF Agree on Ranking Points for Davis Cup

jane Says:

This is a good idea. Those players who devote themselves to team competition should be rewarded, and the potential to grow the sport through Davis Cup – since it’s an international competition – might actually be quite strong.

That said, the players on the ATP tour are already spread so thin; they have virtually no “down time” and adding Davis Cup to the rankings battle may exacerbate their already extremely full schedule. Will this mean more injuries, or will it mean more players skipping the smaller tournaments and focusing on the MS and GS tournaments? I don’t know. But scheduling has to be considered.

(I keep wondering about the Olympics, which adds yet another stop in the players’ schedules, not to mention, this year, raising human rights issues as well.)

PJ Says:

I don’t know if I’m a big fan of this. As noted in the article, only two people per country get to play. Some players just aren’t going to get a chance, especially in countries that are deep in talent. Also, I would assume more points will be offered in the top group. What happens when you have a country where there’s one really good player and the country continues to fail to make the top group?

jane Says:


You raise good points about parity; I suppose some of the players who don’t play Davis cup could continue to play in smaller (maybe even simultaneous) tournaments to accumulate points that way, which some do now anyhow.

“only two people per country get to play.” – technically 4 if you count the doubles team.

“Some players just aren’t going to get a chance, especially in countries that are deep in talent. ”

- maybe there could be some kind of rotation system implement to circumvent this problem? This way, the same players would not be called on to travel/play in every single tie. Of course this makes it perhaps more difficult for the coach, and it may be tougher to create the kind of camaraderie of the present US team. But it’s a thought…

allcourt Says:

Geez! Here we go again with the seemingly required nasty comment about the Williams sisters. Within the last 4 or 5 years, I’ve actually SEEN Venus and Serena appear in Fed Cup quarterfinals in Delray Beach TWICE, Venus played in Moscow right after winning Wimbledon(Davenport went home claiming injury), and again almost singlehanded she tried to win the FC final for the USA in Vermont a year ago.

The fact that neither Venus nor Serena is playing this tie should not be enough of an excuse for your ridiculously unfair comment. Go chastise Sharapova and Bartoli etc etc instead.

It is because of their participation in FC– way beyond the minimum requirement (see Sharapova),I might add — that both Williams sisters are eligible to represent the USA in the Olympics this summer.

PJ Says:

Jane, I was only talking about singles. But, yes, four people. I also agree about camaraderie. That was almost my point. There’s no wild card, no qualifying; if you’re not chosen, you can’t get points.

Allcourt, I’m confused at your comments. This doesn’t even involve the WTA.

John Says:

Considering they put all their eggs in one basket with Venus last year where she won both her singles matches, they should cut her some slack. I didn’t see you mention Maria who also chose to skip out on moscow.

PJ Says:

Oh, I just re-read the article and noticed the mention of Fed Cup. I didn’t really see that as a dig. Even before injuries, they decided not to play. It was used as an example. It didn’t say that they are the only top players skipping. As for Maria, I read an article where it was already decided that Maria was going to play the first tie, and if they won, Kuznetsova would play the next.

MMT Says:

I think this is a great idea. It’s time Davis Cup had some prominence in tennis.

I also have a structure (http://tennis-column.blogspot.com/2007/12/why-not-count-davis-cup-in-rankings.html) that I think could alleviate some of the problems with awarding points for Davis Cup; basically it consists of round-robin tournaments on Davis Cup tie weekends, where players can earn ATP points as well.

Finally, the author’s attempt to villify the Williams sisters for no playing Fed Cup are wholly unwarranted. If you compare their participation to that of Sharapova and Henin, you’ll see they’ve done more than their fair share.

Susan Says:

I don’t want to compare Venue & Serena to other players from other countries. I only care about our Fed Cup Team.

The fact is, it is terribly disappointing to the US team that they have chosen not to commit.

Thanks for past efforts but it doesn’t help out now. Their choice I guess but I wonder what they’d be saying if they weren’t asked???

allcourt Says:

PJ: Your post about not seeing what my comment had to do with the subject of the article (before you noticed the Williams refence) so helps to make my point! Here we are, talking about points being given for Davis Cup play, and the writer just has to grab a chance to slam Venus and Serena? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to use as an example, as you mention, one or more of the ATP players who regularly dodge DC? Why bring in a WTA player at all?

I see it as a sad and deliberate and unnecessary dig at two players who have supported FC often — even in the early rounds.

jane Says:

MMT – Thanks for the link to your blog – well written and interesting stuff there.

I like the idea of supplementing Davis Cup points with ATP sanctioned events for non-Davis-cup-players. As an alternative, I had suggested some kind of rotation system for tie players, but that might be more difficult to implement for a number of reasons.

Richard Vach Says:


Read the story. The reference was to the sad state of Fed Cup and top players skipping. Why would I use an ATP player as an example? I used examples of ATP players skipping earlier in the story.

Yes, other players skip, but in the case of U.S. Fed Cup, we are in the semis, one step from the final, and the Williams sisters have no interest. Davenport is willing to drag her baby half way around the world, she is so excited to have the U.S. have an opportunity to make the final.

It is all fine and well to point to past instances when the Williams sisters played Fed Cup. Yes, they have given in the past. But now, with the U.S. in the semis and the potential to win for the first time in almost 10 years, and with a non-existent bench to pull from, they are not interested. This is why Fed Cup is in such a bad state, and it is a pity for women’s tennis fans and fans of U.S. Fed Cup.

If the U.S. Davis Cup team beats France they will be in the semis. Could you see Andy Roddick and James Blake then saying, “We’ll take a pass, no thanks.”?

Would you then say, ‘They’ve given so much in the past.’? The Williams’ also skipped out on the first round, held in the U.S., when Davenport and Ashley Harkleroad pulled the team through. Guess this is their Fed Cup skip year?

I think they owe a little more to U.S. tennis, but I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. Tennis in the U.S. can use all the headlines it can get, and the U.S. being in the Fed Cup final would certainly be one. I’m not nearly as a disappointed as Davenport, or captain Zina Garrison.

MMT Says:

Nobody has asked Lindsay Davenport to drag anyone anywhere – if she chooses to bring her son with her, it is her interest to do so, and shouldn’t be given special credit for it.

I’m sure her interest in playing Fed Cup this year has a little something to do with her desire to play in the Olympics as well.

Speaking of the Olympics, Sharapova, who is ignominiously absent from your post, has also evaded Fed Cup throughout her career, as has Henin in the last 3, so why have they been excluded from your rebuke?

The reason folks are so annoyed with your reference to them is that it seems to selectively pick on the Williams sisters for doing what so many other top players do regularly, and to a greater extent than they have.

Richard Vach Says:


Sharapova is “excluded from my rebuke” because she played in the first round, and has a deal with the Federation to play every other tie with Kuznetsova because their bench is so deep — and this next tie is on clay, which is another reason to pass on Sharapova.

jane Says:

What Richard says about Sharapova, that she “has a deal with the Federation to play every other tie with Kuznetsova ” seems like a viable alternative for ATP players too – why not rotate through a few players as teams make it deeper into ties, particularly is the “bench is deep”? It would give players a break, others a chance, and maybe it would circumvent some vilifying?

MMT Says:

Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004 and has played Fed Cup exactly once since then. She has only recently shown any interest because the Olympics have are on the horizon.

Maybe she wouldn’t have been selected anyway – but that’s not the question here – her committment is. To that end, you’ve given the answer: a special arrangement in which she is only required play half the ties. Is the same arrangement is in place for all Russian women due to the team’s depth?

And Henin has skipped Fed Cup for 3 of the last 4 years. Does she also have a special arrangement, or are there too few quality Belgians still playing to make such a subterfuge plausible?

I know I’m being a bit hard on you, but it still seems to me that your comment is unjustly skewed against the Williams sisters.

allcourt Says:

Thanks, MMT.

I guess that if you can’t or won’t play 100% of the time, the best policy would be to play once every 4 years or more of eligibilty (like Sharapova) instead of playing half a dozen or more times in a typical four-year period.

Let the word go out!

oscil8 Says:

“Dicey” – bah. The ranking points are purely to ensure players don’t actually miss out completely by playing Davis Cup instead of some tournament. However it’s a shame the points aren’t on offer further down the food chain.

This should have happened decades ago. I guess the ATP were finally able to take on board the notion that the fanatical partisan support you see in Davis Cup is actually healthy and exciting for tennis as a whole, even if it’s owned by the evil empire.

Joshua Says:

With all the many problems plaguing Davis Cup, it’s interesting that the only solution offered by any tennis governing body has come not from the ITF but from the ATP. Since, as this post points out, the ATP has no control over Davis Cup anyway, it’s not surprising that the solution would be so anemic and virtually worthless. Almost all top players with produce results in the “500″ category better than their Davis Cup results, so it’s unlikely that these points will count toward total scores for the likes of Federer anyway. Davis Cup suffers far more from the insane schedule, best-of-five format and almost insurmountable home court advantage than it does from the “lack” of player participation.

After all, 8 of the Top Ten men in the world participated in Davis Cup last weekend. The only two who didn’t were Federer (who would have to single-handedly carry his nation up from its less-than-World Group status) and Djokovic, whose nation was eliminated in the first round. Even Spain, which has a ridiculously deep bench, produced its two top players, as did Russia, the United States, Argentina and the Czech Republic and France (although Gasquet only played the dead rubber, for which he’d get no ATP credit even though he and James Blake, unlike Andy Roddick, seem to believe that the paying fans deserve to see quality tennis even after the tie is clinched).

How exactly would ranking points have made this year’s Davis Cup better? Federer’s nation didn’t qualify, Djokovic’s lost early.

The highest ranked player who hasn’t played in a single tie this year even though his country was in the World Group is Carlos Moya (currently 16 in the world) and Spain is hardly hurting from his absence.

Do we really think ranking points will turn CYPRUS into a tennis powerhouse?

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