The Buenos Aires challenger not only left very good tennis and the presentation of the protagonists of the new breed of players with international projection, but also complaints and claims to the ATP for the frozen ranking, which will only disappear in August 2022, and which prevents the progress of those who began to get their first points at the beginning of the pandemic.
This situation is what ended up influencing the discouragement of some players, such as Francisco Cerúndolo (113 ATP). “It influenced my mood a lot, because at the end of last year I had won three challengers, at the beginning of this year I won another and, also, I finished an ATP (Argentina Open), but I still saw 130 in the ranking. From there I did not play well until August, because I felt that I had won a lot and did not get any reward ”, commented the eldest of the brothers, who expressed the common voice of those who compete in the challenger circuit or are under 24 years old . In his honesty, Francisco said that he had gone through a “very negative” moment and that he was “half burned out, because he thought he should be in another position, I don’t know, 60 or 70 and playing other tournaments, but that because of this ranking he couldn’t . He played me very against, he did not play well at all, he was hot with life. They were four or five months in which I did not feel like playing, because I saw that more than what I had done it was impossible for me to do and I had not advanced at all ”.
On March 8 of this year, the Argentine had achieved 686 points and was ranked 112th in the ranking. But, with that number of units, on the same date in March 2019, in a ranking without pandemic and without freezing, it would have been ranked # 81 in the world rankings., 31 places later, which would have allowed him to directly enter three Grand Slam and some ATP tournaments. The equation abruptly changed the tennis player.
These situations are replicated in players from other countries and lead their coaches to express themselves, but also to try to protect their coaches. “It is a disaster what they have done with the ranking freeze”, says Diego Junqueira, the coach from Tandilense of Peruvian Juan Pablo Varillas. Is that his player is one of those who has won the most games on the challenger circuit this season (he won two titles and reached two other finals), but nevertheless he could not pass the barrier of the top 100 in the world, “when we could having been 70 or 80, I don’t know, but not in that position ”, complains the coach.
What most do not understand is “why points last so long for players, they have a great advantage over those who are just starting. There are tennis players who will have points from 2019 and who will only go away in August 2022. They have been living on the same points for three years, while the youngest are already defending points due to the thaw. A madness and a disadvantage ”, they expressed almost in unison by way of claim, on the terrace of the Racket Club. A complaint that was extended to the Big Three: “Many complain or criticize Djokovic, but he is the only one who does or says anything. But Federer or Nadal, what do they do? “.
With the beginning of the pandemic and the impossibility of holding tournaments, the players were left without the possibility of defending the points of the previous season, which led to a preventive freezing of the ranking. But In August 2021, the ATP decided to extend its validity for another year, after the unfreezing of the ranks, which occurred with the Cincinnati tournament, during that month, which ended up favoring those who compete in tournaments of greater importance for about those who do it in lower circuits, as recognized by the Brazilian Thiago Monteiro: “I was not affected, because I continued to play ATP tournaments and I was able to stay in the ranking, but I do see that those who are getting their first points or are competing on the challenger circuit have a very hard time reaching the top 100”.
To further understand how difficult this situation is, in the week prior to the US Open 2019, when the COVID-19 pandemic still did not appear on humanity’s horizon, the world’s number 100 (at that time the South African Lloyd Harris) was enough to add 535 points, while for the same date this year (coming out of quarantine), Stefano Travaglia (ITA) occupied that position with 811 accumulated units, made up of 337 expired points, but freezes (189 of them corresponding to 2019 and 148 to 2020).
This scenario was what led the young Danish Holger Rune (18 years old) to write a desperate letter on Instagram. “You know that I am a hardworking man and normally I never complain”, he began by saying, to continue: “this year I have fought very hard to achieve my goals to become the Top 100, but ATP has continually made it very difficult for me. many other young players, because they have a frozen ranking from 2019, which means that players still have their 2019 points. Looking back 2 years in the normal classification, today I would be in position 62 and not 124. Does it matter? Yes, when you are ambitious and hardworking, it is important to get your reward. With that ranking I could enter better tournaments and I would feel that my hard work paid off. I feel tired and angry now because I think the system is unfair. I love my tennis, but we have to compete on equal terms. “
The inequality to which he refers can be clearly seen in several players taken at random but, especially, in the French tennis player Gael Monfils. Many of the participants of the Buenos Aires challenger participated in the qualification in the Grand Slam and, at least two of them, could have entered directly into the main draw. However, they were unable to do so, while Monfils was helped by freezing and Not only did he enter the Main Draw, but he was even seeded, when in fact he should have occupied the position # 184 and played the classification. With Federer (he was only enough to be # 128) something similar would have happened if he did not receive an invitation.
For his part, the Argentine Sebastián Báez, winner of 5 challengers and finalist of 3 others, adhered to the fact that these are the rules with which they are playing and that it only remains to look forward, but very close to him there are those who are sincere and regret the freezing of the points. “Of course, this ranking is a problem, with what has been done, he could have entered a Grand Slam directly or played one of the ATP tournaments that he does not have access to today. Points are important, but money is also important, because it eases your budget and that relaxes your head, because you don’t have to think about it. “
While the complaints are happening, the coaches do a complementary job, that of protecting their players so that this situation does not affect them too much. “I do not comment on anything to my player, I make comments that are all positive, that nothing of this comes to him, but this freeze the only thing that he achieved is to postpone those of the second platoon and those who began to add in 2020, because already they have to be defending points, for them there was no freeze and the fight is unequal, “he told Infobae a coach who preferred not to be mentioned, so that his player does not feel the reality of what is happening.
The general account that the coaches, and some of the players, do is that the accumulation of points of those who are higher up prevented them from crossing the barrier of the first 100 or reaching the 70 or 80 position in the ranking. With that location, they can directly enter much larger contests. “We are here, in a challenger -commented Junqueira-, fighting to win 1,400 dollars and 15 points, in the quarterfinals, when if you enter an ATP 250, there are 14 thousand in prizes and 45 points, it is a very significant difference.”
The distance between one tournament and another is even more increased in Grand Slam tournaments, in which by playing in the first round you get 10 points for the ranking and 75 thousand dollars in prizes, while a challenger like the one in Buenos Aires It does not award units in the initial round and only 520 dollars.
The situation is as clear as the difficulties. The unease and the claim is becoming stronger and stronger among those below, who do not see empathy from those above with the problem that will continue to marginalize them until August 2022, when the progressive thawing has finally melted this iceberg. .