Rafael Nadal’s Australian Open entry confirmed, but what is the protected ranking that he will use?

Rafael Nadal talks to the media

Rafael Nadal will be in the main draw of the 2024 Australian Open as it has been confirmed he will use his protected ranking for the tournament.

The 22-time Grand Slam winner spent virtually the entire 2023 season on the sidelines due to a hip injury and has slumped to No 664 in the ATP Rankings as he has only 45 points to his name.

By the time the Australian Open gets underway, he will be on zero points as he will drop the remaining points he accumulated at last year’s tournament.

But the tennis great will be on the entry list for next year’s season-opening Grand Slam as he has a protected ranking of sixth.

Several other top stars will use a protected ranking to enter the tournament as Marin Cilic (21), Denis Shapovalov (27) and Milos Raonic (33) will also be in the draw.

But what is a protected ranking?

As per the official ATP website, a protected ranking is “a ranking assigned to a player who has been unable, due to injury, to compete in any tennis event for a minimum of six (6) months”.

The rules further state: “A player may petition the ATP CEO or his designee for an Entry Protection when he is physically injured and does not compete in any tennis event for a minimum period of six months. The written petition must be received within six months of his last tournament.

“The Entry Protection shall be a position in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, as determined by the player’s average Pepperstone ATP Rankings position during the first three months of his injury. The Entry Protection shall be for entry into the main draw or qualifying competition or for special exempt consideration.”

Nadal, of course, has been sidelined since January and he was ranked at No 6 when he stopped playing due to injury, hence the protected ranking of sixth.

Will a protected ranking allow Nadal and others to be seeded?

Nadal will not be on the seeding list for the 2024 Australian Open as the rules state: “The Entry Protection shall not be used for seeding purposes, Lucky Loser consideration or for entry into the Nitto ATP Finals.

“The Entry Protection shall be in effect for either the first nine tournaments that the player competes in using the Entry Protection (excluding wild cards and entries as a Direct Acceptance with his current position in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings) or for the period up to nine months beginning with the first tennis event that the player competes in, whichever occurs first.”

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