How do tennis tournaments work?

How do tennis tournaments work? For instance, how do we know who will compete in each tournament? Is one tournament more prestigous than another? If you lose a tournament can you play at another? (ie- can Henin play in Wimbledon if she lost at the Australian open?). How do you get tickets to a tournament? And can you get tickets to see a specific match or player ?

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  1. Omstart: Straight Outta Teesside, 06 February, 2010

    Attempt to answer these very broad questions:-

    1) Tennis tournaments on the men’s (ATP) and women’s (WTA) tours are generally open to the top players in the world. Taking the men’s game as an example, there are four levels of tournaments, from most to least prestigious (in terms of ranking): Grand Slams, ATP 1000 Series, ATP 500 Series and ATP 250 Series.
    Players earn points from the tournaments they enter, and win more for finishing in the later stages. Winning a Grand Slam earns 2000 points, an ATP 1000 Series tournament 1000 points and so on. The more points a player has, the higher his ranking against other players is and in turn the more prestigious the position they occupy in successive tournaments.
    In Grand Slams, generally, the top 128 players in the world are considered. Exceptions are ‘wild-cards’, which are issued by the tournament to people who are outside the top 128 but deemed worthy for other reasons (i.e. past winners, been out for a while with injury) to enter. There are also ‘qualifier spots’, where again people of lower rank than 128 can attempt to qualify (three matches against other qualifiers) for the Slam.
    The other tournaments are more straightforward – simply the best players in the world get to compete on merit. Players have an element of choice in the ATP 500 and 250 series in where to compete, because several occur at the same time.
    There is always a fixed number of positions available in every tournament, and these are filled with the better players being given priority.

    2) Losing a tournament does not mean one cannot enter another – but if someone keep losing early on in tournaments then their ranking will fall, and eventually they will drop outside the top level of players who automatically qualify.

    3) Henin is a special case. Because she retired in 2007, she returned this season with no ranking points at all. So to qualify for tournaments, she needed the aforementioned ‘Wild Cards’. However, after appearing in a final, and possibly needing one more wild-card for the next tournament, she will have enough points to qualify for the tournaments on merit.

    4) Tickets vary from tournament to tournament. Here in the UK, Eastbourne, Queen’s and Wimbledon are all done on ballots – you put your name down and apply but you are not guaranteed tickets. There is small scope for buying returned tickets online but these are so sought after that it is almost impossible. I cannot speak for other tournaments outside the UK but I believe tournaments in Australia are easier to get into than most places in the world.
    Because there is an order of play for specific days in a tournament, you can never be as precise as getting a ticket to see a certain player. You simply get a ticket for play on a certain day, and can watch all the matches played on that day.

  2. Wesley A, 06 February, 2010

    Players competing on the pro tour (either mens or womens tour) get ranking points throughout the year that determines their rank. If you are ranked in the top 100 players in the world, you are automatically entered in the major (Grandslam events). If you are not ranked in the top 100, then you may have to "qualify" into the tournament in several rounds before the tournament starts, or you have to be granted a "wildcard" (special invitation) to play. A total of 128 players compete at the grandslam tournaments which includes ranked players, qualifiers and wildcards. If you loose in one tournament, but you are still ranked high enough to gain automatic entry into the next, then you don’t have to do anything special to get in. If your ranking goes down because you loose point (didn’t defend your points from the previous year), then you might have to qualify or be granted a wildcard.

    There are 4 grandslam tournaments that are considered the most prestigious in tennis. The Australian Open, the Frech Open (aka Roland Garros), Wimbledon and the US Open. Wimbledon is the most prestigious tournament, but the other 3 are almost as important. The grandslam events are worth the most prize money and give you the most ranking points of any tournaments. These four events are the pinnacle of the sport.

    In between these major championships are other minor tournaments scheduled throughout the year. These other tournaments are also important for ranking points and prize money, but not as prestigious as the grandslam tournaments. Lower ranked players can play these events to try to increase their ranking points. The further you go in a tournament, the more ranking points you get.

    You can get tickets for tennis matches by going to that tournament’s official website (ie: You cannot get tickets to see a particular player because there is no way for the tournament to know who will be playing who or in what round (or on what stadium) until the draw comes out (about a week before the tournament starts). That combined with the uncertain scheduling of matches and the potential "upsets" (favorite players loosing early in the tournament), there is no way to garauntee who you will end up seeing. But generally, the more expensive the tickets (usually towards the end of the tournament on the main stadium) are going to give you the best opperatunity to see your favorite players (if they are among the stars).

    And YES, Justin Henin will not only play at Wimbledon, but also the French Open and the US Open as long as she is not injured. She doesn’t have a ranking yet because she just came back, but she will have earned enough ranking points by the time those events come around that she’ll gain automatic entry. Even if she didn’t, those tournaments would grant her a wildcard since she’s an established star (with star power) whose won 7 grandslam titles before. A player of that magnetude gaurantees a large audience, higher attendence and more money for the event, so they will absolutely insist that she plays.

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