Rafael Nadal Cincinnati Open 2022

What is protected ranking and how will it help Rafael Nadal at Australian Open?

Rafael Nadal will use his protected ranking to enter the Australian Open rather than rely on a wildcard, it has been reported.

Nadal will be in the unusual position of not being seeded when he plays Melbourne this year due to his ranking lapsing quite dramatically in the last 12 months.

That, of course, due to him spending almost all of 2023 recovering from a hip injury that was so serious it has led to retirement speculation.

What, though, is protected ranking and why does it mean Rafael Nadal, and other players, will not need a wildcard for the Australian Open?

What is protected ranking and how will it help Rafael Nadal?

A protected ranking is an allowance within the ATP for a player who has suffered long-term injury to not have to start again from the bottom upon their return.

Players can apply for protected ranking six months after their last match and should the ATP grant it they will, for tournament entry purposes, be granted a ranking determined by their average ranking during the first three months of injury.

Rafael Nadal world ranking

However, it the protected ranking does come with limitations. For starters, it can only be used for either the first nine tournaments since their return or the first nine months, whichever comes first. That is extended to 12 tournaments and 12 months if he spends more than a year out injured.

Most importantly, though, protected ranking only applies to entry into a tournament – not the seeding.

Therefore, Rafael Nadal will not be seeded at the Australian Open and will therefore be vulnerable to being drawn against a top player, possibly even Novak Djokovic, in the first round in Melbourne.

READ NEXT: Rafael Nadal being unseeded will ‘be crazy’ claims Taylor Fritz

 Join >> Receive $700/£600 of tennis gear from the Tennishead CLUB

 Social >> FacebookTwitter & YouTube

 Read >> World’s best tennis magazine

 Shop >> Lowest price tennis gear from our trusted partner 

Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.