It’s been a gradual trend. But it’s now become the norm.
With the cutoff for entry at Grand Slam tournaments at the top 104, a player could be pretty certain of getting directly in at the deadline if they were top 100.
But every year, it seems as though that’s less and less of a slam dunk.
The reason for that is the increasing number of players who get in with their injury protected rankings.
Case in point: this year’s Roland Garros.
The deadline for singles entry came Monday. And with every player entered with the exception of No. 26 Simona Halep, the last player directly in on the initial women’s singles entry list is Tereza Martincova.
The last player directly in on the men’s side is Alexsander Shevchenko.
Martincova is ranked No. 98. Shevchenko is also ranked No. 98.
And Martincova only squeezed in because she rose five spots in the rankings on the very day of the deadline, after making the final of a $80,000 ITF in Spain last week.
No. 100 is Magdalena Frech of Poland. And as of today, she’s out of luck. So is men’s No. 99 David Goffin, and women’s No. 99 Océane Dodin, for whom it’s the home Slam.
Now, Frech, Dodin and Goffin will probably end up getting in. If recent history is any indication there are a number of players who enter with their protected rankings only to decide, closer to the tournament, that they’re just not ready to return.
And so they don’t want to waste one of the two Grand Slams for which they’re allowed to use their protected. That’s been the case with Patricia Tig, whose protected ranking is No. 65.
But they have to wait. And hope players won’t try to give it a go to collect at least part of that first-round prize money.
Roland Garros Protected Rankings
The women’s list we saw was a few hours before the deadline. It contained … seven players with protected rankings.
#14 – Jennifer Brady
#21 – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
#27 – Elina Svitolina
#54 – Daria Saville
#65 – Patricia Tig
#68 – Sara Sorribes Tormo
#90 – Kristina Kucova
Missing that cut (for now) are No. 103 Vera Zvonareva and No. 106 Hsieh Su-Wei.
The men’s list as of Tuesday morning … also had seven players with protected rankings:
#35 – Gaël Monfils
#47 – Lloyd Harris
#48 – Kyle Edmund
#73 – Hugo Dellien
#75 – Guido Pella
#88 – Jérémy Chardy
#94 – Jiri Vesely
Still on the outside looking in are David Goffin, Taro Daniel and No. 101, Dominic Thiem.
The lists weren’t dissimilar for January’s Australian Open, although there are some new faces, and some have used up their eligibility.
Those on the women’s side who have used up their two-Grand-Slam allowance are Nadia Podoroska (No. 39/No. 102), Evgeniya Rodina (No. 73/No. 327), Taylor Townsend (No. 84/No. 117), and Eugenie Bouchard (No. 118/No. 298).
Podoroska, at No. 102 this week, might well get in. And Sorribes Tormo, at No. 101 and just back a few weeks ago, might also not have to use her protected ranking to make it.
But for now, they’re on the outside looking in.
From the list we saw, Sofia Kenin (No. 4 protected, No. 134 actual) and Jaqueline Cristian (No. 65 protected, No. 180 actual) still have one Grand Slam they can enter with their protected rankings. But they only entered Roland Garros with their actual rankings.
Perhaps Kenin, a former singles finalist, might get a wild card.
Barbora Strycova, who is returning from maternity leave and plans to get the band back together in doubles with Hsieh, did not enter with her No. 39 protected singles ranking.
She has, however, entered both Madrid and Rome in singles with it (players are also allowed a maximum of two WTA 1000 entries).