Tennis explained: explaining the Tour | TBEN | Tennis

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New to the tennis game? Our Tennis Explained series brings you quickly up to speed on everything you need to know to fully enjoy the sport. This introduction provides an overview of the TBEN.

How to tour

How many tournaments are there around the world?
The 2023 TBEN calendar features more than 60 events in nearly 30 countries.

How do players decide which tournaments to enter?
Far from a carefree trip around the world, a number of factors play a role in a player’s schedule on the TBEN.

The first consideration is whether a player’s Pepperstone ATP ranking earns him or her a seat in the main draw or the tournament’s qualifying draw. Other factors include Pepperstone ATP Rankings points and prize money on offer. Since all things are relatively equal, players can choose their destination based on the city they most want to play in.

Learn more about the Pepperstone ATP rankings in the next section.

How many levels of tournaments are there?
There are four levels of tour level tournaments – three on the TBEN, plus the Grand Slams.

The TBEN includes ATP 250, ATP 500 and ATP Masters 1000 events – the categories that indicate the number of Pepperstone ATP Rankings points awarded to the champion. Grand Slams award 2,000 points to the winner.

What different surfaces will players compete on? How does the nature of the game differ on each surface?
TBEN events include hard courts, clay courts and grass courts.

Hard courts are generally a more neutral surface. Clay courts, with their slower and higher bounces, lead to longer base rallies. Grass courts, with lower and faster bounces, often yield faster points.

Even within any surface, court conditions can vary from tournament to tournament. You will often hear players talk about the speed changes as they travel from event to event.

Are some players more successful on a certain surface?
Most players have a favorite surface, some to a greater extent than others. Power hitters generally prefer hard or grass courts, while baseline grinders tend to be stronger on clay courts.

I’ve seen players compete indoors and outdoors. Why?
The TBEN features both indoor and outdoor events, with the bulk of indoor tournaments taking place late in the year during the northern hemisphere winter months.

Each player decides which events to prioritize, based on their preferred playing conditions.

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What does a player’s day look like at a tournament? What resources are available to players locally?
After arriving on scene, there are a number of ways players can spend their time before and after the game. They can eat in the players restaurant, relax in the players lounge, work out in the fitness center and much more. Medical staff are also on hand for any necessary treatment.

Like the many spectators who flock to TBEN events, many players are tennis fans too! It is very common to see players support their friends and compatriots from the stands, often in the personal box of the player they are supporting.

What do players use ice baths for?
As with any sport, recovery is a critical part of success in tennis – which is where ice baths come into play. Although they can be unpleasant, ice baths after competition or after training can help reduce inflammation and swelling in the body, relieve sore muscles and improve blood flow, among other things.

How do players practice?
There are a number of ways to practice and every player has a routine that works for them. Common activities include collecting and playing practice points, as well as doing drills with a coach feeding balls.

A practice session during a tournament week looks very different from an off-season or training block, where the players try to maintain as much energy as possible during competition weeks.

Do players share the same dressing room?
Yes, usually the players share a dressing room, with separate rooms for men and women at joint events.

At the end of the year Nitto ATP Finals – for which only the Top 8 players in the world qualify – players will have the privilege of their own personal changing rooms, decorated with their photo.

How do players interact during tournaments?
Players can spend time behind the scenes and away from the heat of the competition in the dining and lounge areas, where the relaxed atmosphere belies the high stakes of the action on the pitch.

Do players ever spend time as tourists in different tournament cities?
Tournaments may be business trips, but that doesn’t mean there’s no time to be a tourist! Players often take advantage of the global nature of the TBEN by exploring different cities when time permits, usually on days off before or after an event.

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For example, during the 2023 United Cup, Rafael Nadal and Team Spain visited Sydney Harbor for their opening game. Other famous locations that TBEN stars have visited include Burj Khalifa in Dubai, Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro and many more.

Who do players travel with on the road?
Each player has their own traveling team, which can change from week to week. Aside from family members or significant others, other members of a player’s travel party may include tennis coaches, fitness coaches, physical therapists, and mental performance specialists.

How does anti-doping work in tennis?
Using urine tests and blood tests, anti-doping officials randomly test athletes after competitions — and sometimes out of competition — to maintain the sport’s competitive integrity.

How to Climb the Pepperstone ATP Rankings

How do the Pepperstone ATP rankings work?
The Pepperstone ATP Rankings awards players points based on their results in professional events around the world, with the biggest prizes offered at TBEN events and the Grand Slams. The further a player progresses through an event, the more points he earns.

The Pepperstone ATP rankings are updated every Monday and reflect points earned during the last 52 weeks of play.

FAQ: Pepperstone ATP Rankings

What is the difference between the different tournament levels? How many points can a player earn at each level?

The ATP 250, ATP 500 and ATP Masters 1000 events are all named after the number of Pepperstone ATP Rankings points earned by their champion. Grand Slam winners receive 2,000 points.

For reference, Carlos Alcaraz finished the 2022 season ranked No. 1 in the world with 6,820 points, followed by Rafael Nadal with 6,020 points.

How does a player climb the Pepperstone ATP rankings?
Players earn points for winning matches, with the points awarded depending on the level of each tournament. A higher ranking helps players gain access to bigger events, allowing a player to continue working their way up the Pepperstone ATP rankings.

What is the Pepperstone ATP Live Race to Turin?
The Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, which is updated at the end of each individual match during the season, is essentially a calendar year specific version of the rankings.

Turin is the venue of the prestigious Nitto ATP Finals, where the top 8 qualifying singles and doubles teams go head to head in a showcase at the end of the year.

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Every January the Race starts again as a player jockey for a place in Turin.

What does it mean to defend points?
When a player earns Pepperstone ATP Rankings points during a tournament, they must “defend” those points at the same event the following year. This is because the Pepperstone ATP rankings are calculated on a 52-week rolling basis, and points from last year’s events drop off the rankings once the event is played again.

Understand the draw

What is a tie?
A tie is simply the knockout tournament bracket that determines the matchups at an event. It’s just like any other tournament, like the World Cup knockout stages or March Madness in NCAA basketball.

When and how are draws made?
The draw is released a few days before a tournament starts. The draws are all done by hand, conducted by a team that includes the ATP supervisor at the event.

All draws are random, outside of predetermined seed slots.

What does it mean when a player is seeded?
The highest ranking players in the Pepperstone ATP rankings in a given event earn seeds, which prevent them from playing against each other until the later rounds of the tournament. To ensure a balanced draw, seeded players are distributed everywhere and the top two seeded players are always placed in opposite halves, meaning they can only meet if both reach the final.

What is a qualification?
A qualifier earns his place in the main draw of a tournament by advancing in the qualifier. At each tournament, a few seats are kept open for qualifiers to increase the odds for players whose Pepperstone ATP rankings are not high enough to gain direct entry into the event.

What is a Lucky Loser?
A lucky loser is a player who sneaks into the main draw despite losing in the final round of the qualifying event. This can happen when a main event player withdraws from an event due to an injury or other reason.

What is a wild card?
A wildcard is a player who is given direct access to an event’s main draw by the tournament organizers. Wildcards are often given to star players who have dropped in the rankings or young, local players whose Pepperstone ATP rankings are not high enough for direct entry.