Alexander Zverev has launched a scathing attack on the revised ATP ranking system, claiming that he should be placed above Swiss legend Roger Federer as a result of the latter’s inactivity over the past year. The 39-year-old was sidelined for the vast majority of 2020 after undergoing two knee operations, returning to action earlier this month at the Qatar Open.
He won his first match in over 13 months against British No 1 Dan Evans, but was knocked out of the tournament by eventual winner Nikoloz Basilashvili at the quarter-final stage.
Despite his injury woes, a number of alterations to the ranking system have kept Federer in the top six, with Zverev one place behind him in seventh.
The ATP opted to freeze the rankings between March and August last year as a result of the disruption caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In October, it was announced that the leaderboard would be reflective of the previous 24 months, as opposed to the usual 12-month format.
The temporary system, which has come under fire from fans, pundits and players alike, will be in place until August.
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Zverev has become the latest tennis star to lash out at the ATP for their handling of the situation, suggesting that Federer should not be ranked as highly as sixth after taking an enforced 13-month hiatus.
“I am the biggest Roger Federer fan, but he has not played for a year and is ranked higher than me,” said Zverev.
“I played a Grand Slam final, a Masters 1000 final. The system is just a disaster.”
The ranking changes have been widely criticised for carrying major implications with regards to lesser-fancied players boosting their hopes of competing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo later this year.
Federer himself was recently the target of a wild claim by Dirk Hordorff, vice-president of the German Tennis Federation, who suggested that the Swiss star had a hand in altering the system to benefit his own position.
“Roger Federer simply changed the ranking method to protect himself, it is irresponsible and quite simply incorrect,” Hordorff told Tennisnet in December.
“In my opinion, he takes advantage of his position on the Players’ Council. It must nevertheless be said that without the change in ranking system, Roger Federer would not be in the top 50.”
Federer has only dropped three places since the changes came into effect, but would have been ranked at around 29th at the end of last year under the previous system.
He was scheduled to appear at this week’s Dubai Tennis Championships but withdrew last week after opting to focus on his training ahead of a return to the Grand Slam circuit.
The Swiss veteran admitted that he is not yet pain-free after struggling with a shoulder problem during the defeat to Basilashvili in Qatar.
“I honestly expected to feel this way,” Federer told reporters. “The whole shoulder, I feel the muscle pain around that. I didn’t expect that.
“I’d been serving the whole time but I think that comes with the pressure. In matches you just go that extra five per cent.
“Overall, the body is actually fine. I’m happy. I felt fine, a little stiff in the morning but that’s totally normal, I think.”