Ash Barty’s world number one ranking could be affected by WTA review of ‘frozen’ points system



The women’s professional tennis tour is considering whether to make changes to its “frozen” ranking system, adopted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

If the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) decides to push ahead with any change, it may well affect Ash Barty, Australia’s current world number one.

WTA chief executive Steve Simon said in a statement that the tour was “reviewing if any further adjustments to the rankings process will be made”.

Traditionally the main women’s tour rankings are based on a 52-week system, allowing players to take their best 16 results, with highest ranking points for the four grand slam tournaments, the WTA Finals and WTA Premier and Premier 5 events.

As things stand, however, the WTA allows players to count the points from their top 16 tournament results since March 2019.

Ashleigh Barty holds the French Open trophy and smiles
Ash Barty did not defend her French Open title in 2020 because of COVID concerns.(AP: Christophe Ena)

That allows someone like Barty to avoid being penalised for sitting out most of 2020 after the COVID-19 outbreak took hold.

Barty, for example, did not defend her 2019 title at the French Open in October, but still gets credit for the previous year’s championship.

Right now, she leads her nearest challenger — Australian Open winner Naomi Osaka — by 1,351 rankings points, 9,186 to 7,835.

The ATP men’s tour announced on Wednesday that it would tweak its rankings rules with an eye to restoring the regular 52-week system fully by August 2022.

The men’s tour also said it would add about $US5 million ($6.4 million) to prize money being offered between now and June at some smaller tournaments by increasing payouts that had been cut to 50 per cent because of the pandemic.

As for WTA prize money, Simon said in his statement: “In addition to the over $US3 million ($A3.8 million) in relief we provided to players in 2020, the WTA has assisted both players and tournaments by subsidising 100 per cent of the onsite prize money in 2021 through the utilisation of broadcast revenues, bonus pool re-allocations and central organisational funding as we feel very strongly in supporting both of our members during these challenging times.”

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