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Men’s tennis tour tweaks rankings, prize money amid pandemic

March 3, 2021 GMT
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Japan's Kei Nishikori plays a shot against Australia's Alex De Minaur in their second round men's singles match of the ABN AMRO world tennis tournament at Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
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Japan's Kei Nishikori plays a shot against Australia's Alex De Minaur in their second round men's singles match of the ABN AMRO world tennis tournament at Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

LONDON (AP) — The men’s professional tennis tour is increasing prize money at smaller tournaments that had 50% cuts during the coronavirus pandemic and is changing its “frozen” rankings, with the aim of restoring the traditional 52-week system by August 2022.

The ATP’s announcement Wednesday also said some players will be allowed to bring more than two team members to tournaments on a first-come, first-served basis, easing a restriction put in place last year because of COVID-19.

“Our tournaments’ revenues continue to be severely impacted by restrictions on ticket sales, and a substantial improvement on this front looks unlikely before mid-year,” ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said.

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Until Wimbledon begins in June, payouts to players will be brought back to 80% of pre-pandemic levels at ATP 250 tournaments and 60% at ATP 500 tournaments. That increase of up to $5.2 million mostly will be funded by taking money out of a bonus pool that is distributed to the top dozen players at season’s end.

Tweaks to the way the ATP rankings are calculated will allow players to count either 50% of points earned at events from March-August 2019 that were not held in 2020 because of the sport’s pandemic hiatus or 100% of points at those events in 2021, whichever is better.

The plan is to have the regular system — where full points are accrued and then drop off a player’s standing after 52 weeks — begin this August, with the rankings completely back to normal a year later.

A new “COVID-19 Protected Ranking” will help players who miss four consecutive weeks still get access to tournament draws via a “frozen” ranking, but it will not apply to Grand Slam events or the Summer Olympics.

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