Grand Slam tournaments (also known as majors) are the four most prestigious tennis events in the world. These tournaments offer the highest ranking points, the greatest media attention and the largest prize pools.
There are four Grand Slam tournaments: the Australian Open is played in January, the French Open in May and Wimbledon in July. The US Open takes place in September. How do tennis players get into these prestigious tournaments, you ask? We will cover all possible ways for players to qualify for grand slams in this article.
A player can qualify to play in a grand slam tournament by being one of the 128 qualified players.
The rankings have been used to qualify most of the players who are participating in grand slam tournaments. Each Grand Slam tournament has 128 players. 104 of these 128, however, are selected through the ATP rankings.
Protected Rankings: A player who is out of the current top104 for more than six months may be considered to be ineligible. However, this means that players outside of the current top104 might still qualify directly due to their protected ranking. This would bump a player into the top104 of the qualifying range. Although there are usually more injuries and absentees than players who are injured, it is possible to still be in the top 100 and not qualify directly.
Unable to Play: If a top-104 player is injured or is otherwise unable to play, the player who is ranked 105th is allowed to take part in the tournament.
16 players qualified for the grand slam tournament by qualifying through 128 slots. Each of the four grand slam tournaments has a qualifying tournament, which takes place one week before the main event. To qualify for the main tournament, the qualifiers require players to win three matches consecutively.
How to Qualify for the Qualifiers: To qualify for the grand slam qualifiers, a player must be ranked between 105-232th and the top of the world. There are currently 128 players who qualify for grand slams. The qualifier tournament should end with 16 players remaining. Players who have won 3 matches will be rewarded with tickets to the main draw for the grand slam tournament. This usually takes place the following day.
Women/Doubles – A starting field of 96 players plays three rounds in the women’s qualifying singles. All vacancies occurring between round one of main tournament qualifying and round two of the qualifying round are filled by the “lucky loser” in the third round. They rank in order of their ranking. Only eight pairs can play in the men’s or women’s doubles rounds, and only four of them advance.
Qualifying players through the rankings or qualifiers will earn 120 of the 128 spots in Grand Slam tournament. There are “wild cards” for the 8 remaining spots. The tournament committee may give out wild cards, but they are sometimes reserved for players who have won a particular tournament.
These cards can also be awarded for fan favorites or local players. Wild card slots are available in both the main draw as well as the qualifying draw. Qualifying players cannot receive wildcards.
These are the top reasons players receive wildcards.
- Promising young talents
- Players from their home country
- Formerly ranked higher players
- Fans favorites and other performers that draw large audiences
- Tournament legends who have won the title in the recent past
We mentioned that a wildcard can be earned by winning specific tournaments. These are the tournaments which reward the winner with tickets to the main draw of the four grand slams.
Australian Open: USTA awards the American woman and man who win the Australian Open Wild Card Challenge with a ticket to the singles main draws.
French Open: Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge is a tournament that uses clay-court pro tournaments in order to award an American woman and man a wild card into main draw.
Wimbledon: One week before the tournament, the Ilkley Challenger takes place in Bradford. The winner is a tradition and receives a wild card for the main draw.
US Open: USTA US Open Wild Card Challenge – This tournament pits the winners of smaller tournaments in the US against each other to win tickets to the US Open main draw.
This post explains how wild cards are awarded to tennis players.
Exchanges are another way for players get wildcards for grand slams. The Australian Open is an example of this. Tournament directors usually grant a wildcard to a player from France.
Because the french directors at the french Open will grant a wildcard to an Australian player for their tournament if the french open is held a few months later. This is just like the Australian Open gave a wildcard of the same nature to a French player.
These exchanges increase opportunities for American, Australian, and French players but at the expense of less fortunate tennis nations. It would be more fair to grant wild cards to rising tennis players who have shown in recent months that they are capable of great things, regardless of their nationality.
This is how the six wildcards for the Australian Open are usually given.
- The Australian Open Wild Card Challenger winner
- 1 French player (In return for an Australian getting a wildcard to the French Open)
- 1 British Player (In return for a wildcard to an Australian tennis player at Wimbledon).
- Favorite local player/fan
- 1 American Player (In return for a wildcard to an Australian participant at the US Open).
- 1 is awarded to an Asian player (Australian Open, also known as Grand Slam of the Asia-Pacific),
After reading the entire article, you will be able to understand how tennis players can qualify and participate in the four grand slams.