Tennis Opens

bp 006 – tennis open tournaments – draft – under construction


Still trying to figure out the last few pieces of how the Grand Slam “majors” open tennis tournaments like the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open probobly select and place their players.  Wondering if the ITA, ATP, WTA, or other tennis organization might be the keeper of any rules or guidelines tournament organizers use for that.


One friend commented that, in a way, even the “open” tournaments are a little bit “invitational” in that the organizers of the big open tournaments may just make whatever judgments — on who gets into the qualifying rounds, which ranked players get accepted into the main tournament without qualifying play or wildcards, and who gets wildcards at both qualifying and main levels — that they think will make the event successful.  That means the tournament officials attract, select, and place whatever players, in both the qualifying and main “draws”, that will attract enough on-site audience, tv audience, internet audience, and — oh by the way — advertisers to make the event a success by all its measures, including financial.


That makes sense, of course.  But, if that’s true, I wonder what’s the difference, if any, between “invitational” and “open” tournaments?

Maybe … no, probobly … bet this is right …

The pro tennis world probobly doesn’t want to miss out on, or be accused of shutting out, any real tennis talent that could possibly compete with, or even beat, the established ranked players.  So they need some process that persuades themselves, and persuades the tennis community, that they have a way for new unknown talent to show up and play.  Why would they need that?  Well, the alternative would be that rumblings and rumors would start that better players are elsewhere … that’s how new leagues get started … anyway, that’s not going to happen, because … what they probobly do is make sure some reasonable number of unranked players have the opportunity to show their stuff very publicly in well-managed and well-officiated circumstances, on world-class courts and facilities, in qualifying rounds at each “open” (in the case of the 2010 Australian Open, 128 men and 96 women), which leads to some reasonable number of them actually getting into the main draw (for the 2010 AO, 18 men and 11 women), so, if, by some chance, any of these unranked unknowns are better than all the ranked known players, then they’ll show it by beating the ranked players.  ok.  reasonable theory.  oh, and the tournament directors have wildcards they can use at both the qualifying and main levels if, by some chance, some fantastic player has been somehow inappropriately, inadvertently, or unfairly overlooked, blocked, or otherwise excluded from showing his or her stuff on the world professional tennis stage.

To do that, all they have to do is look at how many and which ranked players are expressing interest in their 128-player main tournament, look at how many and which players are expressing interest in playing the tournament’s qualifying rounds, quickly select and sign the ones they know they want from each group, cut off the number of selected ranked players in the main draw at 102 (this year’s AO men’s with 8 wildcards and 18 qualifiers) or 109 (this year’s AO women’s with 8 wildcards and 11 qualifiers) or whatever number a little above 100 that gives them the number of wildcard and qualifiers they want this year (keeping maybe a waiting list of selected ranked players until the draw ceremony’s over), and — as long as the prestige and prize money in the event draws more desirable players at both the  qualifying and main tournament levels than they need — that gets it all done.

That’s probobly it.  that’s probobly how it works.  done.  finished.  finis.  fini.  good stuff.


But, what the heck.  May as well poke around in the tennis organization websites and other internet sources to see what other info pops out.


Ok.  The first thing googling on ITA reveals is that ITA is not, as I thought, the International Tennis Association. It’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association.

The international tennis organization turns out to be the ITF, the International Tennis Federation, which describes itself as, “the world governing body for tennis.”

Well, the ITF makes a lot of the rules of tennis, but it seems so far to be mainly rules about things like tennis balls, rackets, tennis court surfaces, nets, net posts, scoreboards, stadium equipment, and stadium seating.  It makes sense that there would be some single place where the rules and specifications for such things would be established and then used around the world at all levels of tennis, by all equipment manufacturers, by all tennis court builders, and by all stadium builders.  That’s all good.  But so far it doesn’t seem the ITF also makes any rules or suggestions about standard ways the Grand Slam open tournaments should be run.  Good to know the ITF exists, though, and a little bit about what it does.

Oh, wait … it’s not just equipment and court specifications.  The ITF also publishes the rules for the game of tennis itself.  It publishes a document that contains all the game rules like scoring points, keeping score, foot faults (serena’s favorite rule :), and such.  Here’s the link to the .pdf file for The Rules of Tennis 2010, the official ITF tennis rulebook:

From The Rules of Tennis 2010: “The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is the governing body of the game of tennis and its duties and responsibilities include determination of the Rules of Tennis.”

So the rules are the ITF’s main job.  Being in charge of the equipment stuff is just one part of being in charge of the rules of the game.  Good to know.

Tom McMullen

On Saturday 16th January 2010, @tommcmullenjr said:

bp005 – tennis open tournaments –

Now is a good time to click on and save the .pdf file for the @AustralianOpen(AO) main tournament “draw” diagrams generated by the IBM-run AO web site. That’s if you’ve been interested in these details of how the various categories of players get placed into the 128 playing spots for the 7 rounds of main tournament play. These diagrams change with each round of play, so now is a good time to save the first version that shows the location of the “qualifier”, “wildcard”, and top player ranking numbers.

Women’s singles:
– The 16 qualifier slots are shown as “qualifier” with (Q) code at right
– Hm .. it’s only 11 qualifer spots? but the qualifying rounds had 128 players competing for 16 spots. how does that work?
– 8 wildcards

Men’s singles:
– The 16 qualifier slots are shown as blanks with (Q) codes to the right
– Hm.. 18 qualifer spots? how’s that work?
– 8 wildcards


– 11 women’s and 18 men’s qualifier spots, not 16 for each. ??? yeah, man! Every surprise is another opportunity to find out how things *really* work. :), but also true … …

– Top 2. The 1 and 2 ranked men’s and women’s players go into the 1 and 128 playing spots, as previously guessed/noticed/figured out

– The other 6 of the Top 8. The [3] thru [8] ranked players go into the 32, 33, 64, 65, 96, and 97 playing spots as guessed, but not in the same spots in both the men’s and women’s draws. That suggests they place [1] and [2] without Johnny MacEnroe pulling papers from the jar, but then put the next six into the jar to randomize who meets serena williams [1] and diara safina [2] earlier and who meets them later on the way to the finals. That makes sense to me. Also, since the [1] and [2] might have the highest rankings, but not be the strongest player at a point in time, doing it like that also randomizes which of the top 8 meets which other top 8 in the quarter-finals. Makes sense.

– The wildcards. Men’s and women’s draws each have 8 wildcards. That’s fine. It adds weight to the theory that 8 wildcards are available in each tournament and the tournament managers use them all. I’m working from that assumption so far. Not sure about it, though. It wouldn’t surprise me, in some future tournament, to see less or more wildcards used in a draw. It seems reasonable to use less wildcards sometimes to let more qualifiers in. And the way the AO page about Justine discusses wildcards, it’s not clear if there are a total of 8 wildcards or maybe 8 basic wildcards plus more for special purposes. But for men’s and women’s AO, it’s 8 and 8.

– 128 playing main draw slots, minus 8 wildcards = 100 playing slots. For some reason, only 11 were given to qualifers in the women’s while 18 qualifier were used for the men’s. need to look at the draw charts for the qualifying rounds again. i thought they each started with 128, played three rounds, that 1/2 to 64, 1/2 again to 32, and 1/2 again to 16 qualifying play winners. guess i need to take another look …

Men’s qualifying singles:

ok, the men’s is 128 playing for 16 spots in three rounds. yet the main draw has 18.

Women’s qualifying singles:

i was wrong about the women’s. it’s 96 players in three rounds to get 12. they used 11.

So what must mean for how they do it is … let’s see … Based on everything I’d seen before, my theory/assumption was it was standard practice for organizing big Grand Slam open tournaments to make 16 spots in the main tournament available to people responding to the idea of the “open” (that anybody with the talent can show up, win the qualifying rounds, and play in the open). Was assuming, if they know they want a 14-day, 7-round, 128-player, single-elimination tournament … that they set aside 16 for qualifiers, 8 for wildcards, leaving 104 playing spots for ranked players. But that’s not how it’s turning out here in the Australian Open.

Since they have 16 men’s 3rd round qualifying winners, and used more qualifiers (18) … and since they had 12 women’s 3rd round qualifying winners, and used less qualifiers (11) … ok, so they know they sometimes use more and sometimes less than they number of third round winners … that’s easy to deal with … they have a random draw to create the order for using the 3rd round qualifying winners in case they don’t need them all, and another random draw for the second round winners in case they need more when all the 3rd round winners have been used … … … right … that’s probobly right. That lets tournament officials reach as deep into the qualifying field as they need or want to. It also lets them fill in for last-minute injuries and other withdrawals as in the 2009 French Open women’s singles Vera Z / Katie O’Brien “lucky loser” situation discussed in the prior post.

That makes the next question: How do they figure out how many qualifiers they will need for the main tournament draw/schedule? Why did they need so many for the AO men’s and so few for the AO women’s? As the King of Siam (Yul Brynner), in the play and movie, The King and I, was wont to say: ” ’tis a puzzlement …”

It’s not a huge point that’s left here, but, when you’re interested in things like this, things like this are interesting.

So what’s left? Well, how the tournament officials decide how many ranked players to play without wildcards and without playing the qualifying rounds. How come the AO used only 11 qualifiers in the women’s and as many as 18 in the men’s? Did too many ranked pro women apply or appear acceptable to the AO this year, or too few ranked pro men’s players?

men’s 128 – 8 wildcards = 120 – 18 qualifiers = 102

women’s 128 – 8 wildcards = 120 – 11 qualifiers = 109

so, how many ranked pro tennis players are there? is the number so close to 100 that the AO organizers decided to …

Ok, not making progress here. Spinning wheels now … (for English as second language people, “spinning wheels” refers to when your car is stuck in mud or snow and your tires just spin and your car doesn’t move, so it means, “a lot of noise and activity, but no progress”) …

Not sure there’s a way to find this out unless … well, maybe a page on one of the Grand Slam sites … or probobly some tennis magazine article’s been done on this subject at some point …

I’ve been assuming, because of the apparent handling of the top 2, 8, and 32 ranked players, that the 100 or so non-wildcard and non-qualifier players are also allowed into the tournament due to ranking … but that’s not necessarily right …

Probobly every player has to apply, if for no other reason than to sign a paper agreeing to the basic terms, conditions, rules, and policies of the tournament. Some, maybe many, of the players, especially the very top ones, may use agents and have individual contracts that replace, include, supplement, or append the basic tournament agreement.

Besides the players, there are quite a few organizations that are involved in the full year’s schedule of these tournaments … oh, you know what … there’s the ITA, the International Tennis Association … the national tennis organizations, like the USTA, US tennis association and Tennis Australia … and we’ve notice the ATP, association of tennis professionals? for the men … and the WTA, women’s tennis association … and the Justine Henin article about wildcards said there are agreements between the US Open and AO, and French Open and AO, about wildcards … the point of all of this is, somewhere there are policies and procedures for how the players are selected for these huge big-money open tournaments … they have to be somewhere because so many people in the pro tennis world have to know them and make decisions based on them … but i’ve googled before and not found anything that seemed on point … maybe now that i’ve probobly figured out much of how it works, it’s time again to go google-fishing to find the center of the player selection rules-making universe …

start up the ol’ google engine again …

Tom McMullen

On Friday 15th January 2010, @tommcmullenjr said:

bp004 – blog post 004 –

#tennis – How do the “Open” tournaments pick and place their players? –

Still in the process of figuring out how the Australian Open (AO) and other open tournaments probobly work. aka, still re-inventing what’s obvious and old hat for the experts, but interesting and new for amateurs.

If you’re interested in the details of this stuff and liked the first three posts, you might like this one too. It’s mostly making some guesses about how the top 32 players are placed and about reading the summary scoring tournament draw charts IBM makes on the websites for these big Grand Slam open tennis events.


I’m guessing, at this point, that the top 32 men’s and top 32 women’s pro tennis players are placed into the 7-round 128-player “draw” grid/chart/diagrams for the open tournaments, not based on Johnny MacEnroe drawing names from a glass bowl, but simply and mechanically on the basis of their rankings and in spots that avoid having a strong player eliminate another strong player in an early round of tournament play.   Player ranked number one goes at the very top in the 1 playing slot.  Player ranked number two goes at the very bottom in the 128 playing slot.  Ranking number three goes in the 33 or 96 playing slot; number four to 96 or 33.  That puts each of the top 4 into a group with 31 other players with lower rankings.  There’s no way these four will play each other before the semi-finals. The next four — with rankings of five, six, seven, and eight — are placed one each into the groups of 32 players, but at the opposite ends of the 32-player grid sections.  Those are the 32, 64, 65, and 97 playing spots.  Placing them this way means the top 8 players can’t possibly play each other until the quarter-finals.

ok, let’s check this.  if this line of thinking is correct, on both the US Open and French Open charts, the 1, 32, 33, 64, 65, 96, 97, and 128 spots should have the top 8 ranked players.

French      –    US
1    – Safina  (1)   –     Safina (1)
32  – Ivanovic (8) –
33  – V Williams (3) –
64  – ?????
65  – Jankovic (5) –
96  –  Dementieva (4) –
97  – Kuznetsova  (7) –
128 – S. Williams (2)   – S Williams (2)

Works for the French Open except for the 64 spot.  Can’t find the number 6 ranked name.  And Katie O’Brien is there with an L next to her name.  There’s probobly an interesting story there about the missing mysterious number 6 ranked player.

ok, the article linked below …

… says the lovely vera zvonareva was the number 6 player, but she hurt her ankle.  that put katie o’brien in.  the articles all use the term, “lucky loser,” and the tournament charts have that (L) code.  That must be standard term for something.  Maybe being … let’s just look it up … ok, the same article says Vera pulled out the day before play started.  So the draw grid/chart was all set by then.  So maybe “lucky loser” and the (L) code refers to someone who missed out somehow in getting into the main draw … a ranked player that was one too many … or one of the qualifying players? but, if that, how to pick one of the 16 third round losers?  maybe … let’s just look it up … 🙂 …

“A lucky loser is a sports term most often used in tennis. It describes a player who loses a match in the final qualifying round of a knockout tournament, but who then enters the main draw when another player withdraws at the last minute because of illness or injury. The lucky loser then takes that player’s position in the draw, regardless of rank. This can only happen prior to the first round of play, shortly before the tournament has started”
They probobly let John MacEnroe or somebody pull a few or all of the 16 names of the 3rd qualifying round losers out of a hat or bowl, keep track of the order, and use them if somebody drops out of the main draw at the last minute.  Which explains the lovely Katie O’Brien’s situation at the 2009 French Open and the L next to her name in the summary chart and the lack of a [6] in that chart. 🙂  Lovely.

ok, so much for the top 8 players.  Same logic for the next 24.

So much for the top 32 players.  All of them placed so none of them play each other during the first two rounds of play.  The top 16 can’t play each other during the first 3 rounds of play.  The top 8 don’t play each other for the first 4 rounds; they first play each other in the 5th/quarter-final round.  the top 4 don’t play each other until the 6th/semi-final round.  The top 2 can’t meet unless they both advance to the 7th/final round.  And all of that is established by a non-random process of assigning the top 32 to specific playing spots in the 128-player tournament “main draw” chart/diagram/grid.

I’m then guessing the remaining 98 players are placed into their spots on the chart based on John pulling pieces of paper out of the bowl at random.  That’s 16 pieces of paper that are reservations for the 16 players who are in the process of earning spots in the main tournament by winning the qualifying rounds.  Plus the 8 or 16 or however many players who received wildcard entry.  Plus all the rest of the players who can play due to their rankings without qualifying play and without wildcards.

That’s partly from the discussion in the previous post, but also now, I think, suggested by another look at these 2009 women’s singles summary “draw” charts for the 2009 French Open and US Open:

French Open

US Open

To the left of the “second round” column are numbers in brackets like [1] and [32] that don’t get any higher than 32.  The similar chart for another Open doesn’t go above [31] which just means the # 32 player was beaten in the first round of play, didn’t make it to the second round.  These charts also use a (Q) code to the left of this column.  That’s got to mean it’s one of the 16 people who made it through the “qualifying” rounds of play and who also won the first round of main tournament play.  The French Open chart has an (L) code.   Not sure what that means.  There’s also a (W) code that is probobly for “wildcard,” but, if the other things we’re thinking here are right (about placing top-ranked players at the outsides of the sections), then Serena Williams shouldn’t need a wildcard spot.  She was [2] and at the 128 bottom position of both US Open and French Open in 2009, but was also marked (W) for the US Open???  (W) probobly does mean wildcard.  Wonder what the Serena story was?  Kim Clijsters had a wildcard, but not Serena … We’ll see …

Ok, found the answer on another US Open page that helps us learn how to read these IBM/GrandSlamOpen summary scoring draw charts.  It wasn’t a Serena story.  It was an Alexa Glatch story.  Alexa had a wildcard entry and Serena had her # 2 place.  They were paired together to play in the first round.  So the way they annotated the diagram was show both Serena’s [2] and Alexa’s “W” next to Serena in the second round column.  That’s probobly so people can refer to that one 2-page summary display format, and see right away to the left of the second round column, who all the wildcards were, where all the top 32 were, and which qualifiers made it to the second round.

Here’s the US Open 2009 page that lists the wildcard recipients, including Alexa Glatch:

Two more interesting things from that page.  One, tennis people refer to the main tournament grid/display/chart as the tournaments, “main draw.”  Second, the article mentions that, in addition to the 8 women who got wildcard entry into the US Open main draw, there were 9 women who got wildcard entry into the US Open’s qualifying rounds.  That’s interesting.  That suggests that, not only is the main tournament, the main draw, sized at and limited to 128 players, but so is the “open” qualifying round of play.  It suggests that these big Grand Slam open tournaments have a lot more people trying to play than get to play and that there’s some sort of qualifying process to get into the qualifying tournament for qualifying for the main play of the Opens.

Ah, yes.  More little facts to find.  More interesting little jewels to search for and discover among the …


change of pace.  maria sharapova having some fun


2010 Men’s and Women’s Rankings

Here are the women’s tennis rankings.  ESPN carrying WTA rankings:

Here’s another.  Probobly also using WTA for Top 20

Here’s one for the men’s.  ESPN carrying ATP rankings:

Tom McMullen

On Thursday 14th January 2010, @tommcmullenjr said:

bp003 – blog post 003 –

#tennis – How do the “Open” tournaments pick and place their players? –

Still in the process of figuring out how the Australian Open (AO) and other open tournaments probobly work. aka, still re-inventing what’s obvious and old hat for the experts, but interesting and new for amateurs.

If you liked the first two, you’ll like this one too.


The @AustralianOpen (AO) had Johnny McEnroe pulling (“draw”-ing) names out of a bowl on live internet streaming video today to create the “draw” for the men’s singles play which will begin on January 18.  The “draw” is the familiar single-elimination tournament chart that has everybody who’s playing on the left side paired up into match after match until, on the right side of the chart, the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals happen, all of which produces just the one champion on the right side.


The list of players on the screen behind John seemed to have 128 players.  “Seemed to have” because I’m only assuming the screen was showing the bottom of the full list of players just selected and placed by the “draw” process (they called it a, “ceremony”) into the “draw” list and diagram.  For a single-elimination tournament, 128 is one of the numbers of players that works.  Factors of 2.  Half the players move forward to the next round and half the players are eliminated from the tournament in each round of play.  128 first round players, 64 second round players, 32 third round players, 16 fourth round players, 8 quarter-finalists, 4 semi-finalists, 2 finalists, and one winner.


What does “single-elimination” mean?  It means, if you lose one match — one “single” match, one “single” singles match if it’s a singles tournament, one “single” doubles match if it’s doubles play — and you as a singles player, or you and your partner as a doubles team, are “eliminated” from the chance to be the tournament winner(s), the tournament champion(s).  That’s different from “double elimination” tournaments (lose twice and you’re out) and from “triple elimination” tournaments (you’re not out until you lose three times) that you don’t see much (or maybe ever) in professional tennis, but do see a lot in amateur and neighborhood and friendly chess, bridge, backgammon, and wizards-of-the-coast magick card tournaments where it’s more about getting to play a lot, have fun, and be around people who also like the game than about winning big money prizes, trophies, endorsements, and fame.


When I saw that figure of 128 players for the main Australian Open men’s singles tournament, it made me wonder how many men and women played in the US Open last August 31 – September 13.  The link below shows the answer is 128 again, both for men’s and women’s singles.

So that makes the main Australian Open the same size as the US Open.  They are both 7-round main (vs. qualifying) tournaments.

For both the US Open and the Australian Open, 7 rounds, 128 players:
128 – r1 – 64 – r2 – 32 – r3 – 16 – r4 – 8 – r5QtrF – 4 – r6SemiF – 2 – r7Final – 1 – champeen!

If a tournament was to be smaller, 6 rounds of single-elimination, it would be with 64 players as follows:
One less round, 6 rounds … half the number of players, 64:
64 – r1 – 32 – r2 – 16 – r3 – 8 – r4QtrF – 4 – r5SemiF – 2 – r6Final – 1 – champeen!

Wonder how big the other well-known major tennis tournaments are?




French Open

2 weeks again.  128 players in each singles draw again.   7 rounds again.

Here’s the men’s singles “draws” page that gives access to all the others:

Here’s another thing about this site.  It’s cool.  And, by the way, so far I’m finding all the major tennis open websites — so far, US Open, Australian Open, and French Open — have pretty much identical features because they’re all run by IBM.  Anyway, this is cool.  If you select “printable draw,” you get a different display format for the “draw.”  This one’s for the women’s singles.  At the far left, on the first page, there’s 1 thru 64.  On page 2, there’s 65-128.  Have a look:

There are a few things to notice here.  One thing a friend showed me.  @SerenaJWilliams.  is at the bottom of the list, #128.  Diara Safina is at the top, #1.  They are the number one and two ranked players.  That means rankings, not the draw, determines a lot of the placements because the tournament organizers are expected … hmm … i was going to say, expected to prevent one strongest player from eliminating another strongest player in the first few rounds which messes up the quarter, semi, and finals, and messes up the tv coverage, suspense, audience appeal, advertiser appeal, and such.  I think that’s right.  But, today, on the live vid stream from Aussie Open, the commentators were saying “one corner” of the draw chart was very tough, with a lot of strong players.

Opens up a new question.  Which part of the “draw” is set up strictly to prevent top ranked players from playing top ranked players too early … and which part is actually effected by the drawing of names from the bowl in the draw ceremony?  One obvious part of the answer is they probobly need to randomize the placement of the 16 spots that come from the “qualifying” play by the unranked/unknown players.  What I mean is, it should be random, and not somebody doing what they feel like, that decides whether a person who came up through the qualifying round ends up in a stronger or weaker section.  Each section should be pretty well-balanced, but who might play Serena vs. who might play somebody else in the early rounds makes a difference.  The random “draw” process would make sense there.  Maybe that’s all.  Maybe all the rest are done strictly by the ranking numbers?

I love it.  Yet another little detail we don’t yet know.  Yee-haa!

My white-beaded friend also showed me that, if you look at the outer ends of each group of espeically 16 or even 8 at the round 2 level, you see the more recognizable names — (reading up from the bottom) serena williams, glatch, raswanska, kuznetzova, dementieva, bartolli, wozniacki, jankovic, and so forth up to diara safina.

Here’s the same diagram from the 2009 US Open:

Reading the outsides of the groups of 8 again, in the second round column, from the bottom of page 2:  serena williams again, sam stosur, flavia panetta, zvonareva, venus william, and so forth up to diara safina again.

That suggests placement by the ranking numbers again.  By having those players on the outsides of those sections, they avoid having strong players knocked out by other strong players in great matches in early rounds that no one’s watching, which also lets less strong players play less strong players in early rounds, which also creates short boring lousy unbalanced later matches between a very strong player and a less strong player again later in timeslots when everybody IS watching and advertisers ARE paying big money.  anyway, that’s the argument for using ranking numbers — and not the random Johnny MacEnroe pulling names out of a glass jar — to place the top players in the “draw” chart/diagram.

Wonder how they do this?  Top 32 or 12 players get placed like that, to keep strongest players apart until final rounds?  The rest go by draw, including the 16 from qualifying rounds?

I love it.  I love it.  Can’t figure it out yet.  Need more info.  Need another factoid or two to work this question.  Yeah, man!


The other thing to notice on the screen behind John on the video was that, though most of the positions on the numbered list had names and countries typed into them, at least one of them had the word, “qualifier,” typed in.  Based on the discussion in the previous v002 post of the “draw” for the “qualifying” rounds of play, there were probobly 16 of those “qualifier” reservations pulled out of the jar by Johnny McEnroe and placed into the main tournament’s “draw.”

So there are lots of “draws.”  There are “draws” for the open tournament’s qualifying rounds for men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s and women’s and mixed doubles, and the less glamorous categories.  And there are “draws” for the open tournament’s main competition in all the categories.

So, for the Australian Open, it looks like they reserved 16 spots (another factor of 2, 2 x 2 x 2 x2 = 16) of the total 128 for the “qualifers,” the unranked and/or unknown players emerge as winners from the “qualifying” rounds of play.  It’s these 16 spots that really make the Open an “open,” as in “open” to anyone who wants to and can play well.  Like in the funny Kevin Costner, Cheech Marin, Rene Russo, and Don Johnson movie, Tin Cup, where Roy MacEvoy (Costner) can qualify to play in the Open even though he’s an unknown. 🙂

Tom McMullen

On Thursday 14th January 2010, @tommcmullenjr said:

#tennis – How do the “Open” tournaments pick their players? – v002 –

I found two parts of the @AustralianOpen (AO) website that give clues about how the field of players get assembled for this open tournament.

One is the draw for the qualifying play. It shows 128 players playing through a 3-round single-elimination tournament chart to win what appear to be 16 spots in the open. That works, right?
128 / 2 (round 1) /2 (r2) / 2 (r3) = 16

let’s check the math in the other direction
16 x 8 = 128 ✔

The other thing I found is a story about Yamina Wickmayer. If you “read between the lines” (which for English second-language people means, “figure out from what’s actually written what assumptions the writer must be making), you get the impression a few things are probobly true about their process.

– They give the impression it’s unusual for someone of her ranking to have to play “in the qualifying”, to “play the qualifying.” I guess “the qualifying” is short for “the qualifying round” or “the qualifying rounds” or “the qualifying match” or something like that.
– They give the impression that she lost her standing or ranking as top player because she was suspended for a year for breaking some rules.
– They give the impression that, since she lost her standing, her only two ways into the open were to request and get a wildcard or “play the qualifying.”

So that helps.

Putting together the pieces we have so far, it looks like this Open, maybe most or all Opens, let any of the top players play based on some rules concerning ranking. That makes sense. You want all the top players you can get to draw the paying audience and attract the paying advertisers.

That said, it looks like the AO makes 16 spots available in the Open for players who don’t meet the current professional ranking requirements.

Then they have the tournament organizers have the various categories of wildcards they can use to allow players to play. Which brings us to the Justine Henin situation.

Justine, like, Ms Wickmayer, was a highly-ranked player in the past, but took some time off. In Wickmayer’s case, it was a suspension, a bit of a negative situation. In Henin’s case, it was a retirement. Justine would have had to “play the qualifying [rounds]” in order to play the AO because that retirement time off had allowed all the other players to pass her in the rankings. But she got hurt during her return from retirement at the Brisbane event. She still wanted to play the AO, felt she could only do it if she had a few days off to heal, the AO tournament managers liked her and her comeback story, and said, ok, justine, you can have one of our discretionary wildcard spots and you don’t have to “play the qualifying rounds.” So the AO tournament directors weren’t enthusiastic about Yamina Wickmayer’s whole situation and reason for no longer being a top-ranked player, and told her “sorry, no”, to her request for a wildcard to bypass playing “the qualifying round.” On the other hand, they liked the whole Justine Henin comeback story, wanted it to be a part of their event, and said “yes” to Ms Henin.

So that solves pretty much all of the puzzles.

Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniaki and Diara Safina are at Sydney while the AO qualifying rounds are going at Melbourne because they automatically get into the Open. Without playing in the quaifying rounds. Because they are, right now, among the world’s numerically top-ranked players.

And at least 128 players who aren’t top-ranked are working their way through 3 qualifying rounds to win one of the 16 spots that can be won that way. (That’s in the men’s singles. There’s an equivalent situation in ladies singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, i guess mixed doubles, and maybe junior and senior and other categories.

Big event. Interesting.

Tom McMullen

On Tuesday 12th January 2010, @tommcmullenjr said:

#tennis – How do the “Open” tournaments pick their players? – v001 –

This post is only for those who enjoy being picky about the details of things they like. In this case, I like tennis and I’m interested in how things are organized, so I’m obsessing a little trying to figure out from public information a few remaining details of how Open tennis tournaments are set up and run. If this kind of stuff interests you, read on.

One hears about tennis, golf, and other sports tournaments as “invitational” and “open.”

In one respect, what’s going on is obvious. “Invitational” probobly just means the only people playing are those who have been invited by the tournament organizers. Like when I used to help organize conferences on various topics, the people who spoke in the various timeslots during the several days were the people my team and I invited. No problem.

Maybe the “open” side is also obvious, but I’m not sure.

The first time I ever thought about “open” tournaments was when Kevin Costner (Roy, aka Tin Cup) and Cheech Marin (Romeo) were talking about the US Open golf tournament in the romantic comedy golf movie, Tin Cup. Kevin/Roy makes a big point about how the US Open golf event is democratic and they can’t say you can’t play even if you’re a down-on-his-luck driving range golf pro or other non-famous or non-fancy person. You just qualify. And the movie goes on to watch Roy as player, with Romeo as his caddy, as he wheels, deals, and borrows, and then wins a private match and bet, to earn the registration fee and expenses for the qualifying rounds, and then plays and does well in the qualifying golf rounds, and then goes on to play in the Open.

So Tin Cup has been my primary expert authoritative source for how “open” tournmanents pick their players.

As I was thinking about how that might apply this month in Australia for the Australian Open (AO), it didn’t seem to compute exactly.

I’m thinking, does everyone have to play in qualifying rounds? Even @SerenaJWilliams,@AndyRoddick, Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, and all the other top players? If not, is it partly invitational based on rankings, audience-drawing power, advertiser-drawing power … and partly Open for the unknowns? And, if all the unknowns play to qualify, can they accept any number of unknowns? How can they do that and still fit a previously-announced schedule like the current schedule for the AO: Jan 15 for the draw to be done that forms the single-elimination tournament diagram, Jan 18 for start of play, finish on jan 31 or so?

I googled around for more info and then posted a tweet asking for info. No answers yet, but …

But, today, I noticed a tweet by @AustralianOpen:

Follow the live scores from Australian Open qualifying, which starts today –

So the players actually are playing qualifying rounds. And they’re playing today on Jan 13 which is Jan 14 in Australia.

That solves one piece of the problem. Publish a deadline to apply for the Open. That allows the tournament organizers to schedule enough days before the draw for “seeding” of the tournament to accomodate whatever number of unknowns actually register to play.

That still leaves a few practical matters unclear.

Also, on the AO website, are these comments about “wildcard” spots in the tournament.

The Australian Open offers eight wildcards into both the men’s and women’s events as follows:

1. Reciprocal agreement with French Open

2. Reciprocal agreement with US Open

3. Top Asian players (male and female)

4. Australian Open Play Off winners (Australian players only)

A further four wildcards in both the men’s and women’s draw are allocated at the tournament’s discretion.

The comments are made in the context of a story about AO tournament officials giving Justine Henin, who was injured in the Brisbane event, a wildcard to play in the AO apparently without the need to play in any qualifying rounds.

Ok, that’s progress. Where are we?

– The Australian Open goes from Jan 18-31, 14 days.
– There are a lot of courts at Melbourne’s tennis center.
– That’s a lot of days and courts, so that means a lot of players can play a lot of rounds, playing through a pretty darn deep single-elimination chart, up through lower rounds, to quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals.
– A top player like Justine had to have a special discretionary “wildcard” to skip actually playing qualifying matches, so maybe everybody, including serena and roger and rafa have to qualify.
– but qualifying play is starting today and serena’s playing in sydney??? caroline wozniacki’s playing the AO and, if she hadn’t lost the other day, she’d also still be playing at sydney. so do the top players just get invited? no, justine henin needed the wildcard. but qualifying’s going on now and serena and caroline aren’t there. i’m missing something.
– … more later …



just parking this here – 4 tomorrow – looks like 128 play4 16 AusOpen spots?


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