World-number-one male tennis-player rankings
is a year-by-year listing of both the male tennis
player who, at the end of a full year of play, has generally been considered to be the best overall player for the entire year, and of the runner-up for that year.
Unofficial rankings before 1973
Before the open era
of tennis arrived in 1968, rankings for amateur players were generally compiled only for a full year of play. Professional players were ranked by journalists, promoters, and players' associations usually at the end of the year. Even for amateurs, however, there was no single official overall ranking that encompassed the entire world. Instead, nation rankings were done by the national tennis association of each country, and world rankings were the preserve of tennis journalists. It was only with the introduction of computerized rankings in the open era that rankings were issued more frequently than once yearly. Even the end-of-year amateur rankings issued by official organizations such as the United States Lawn Tennis Association
were based on judgments made by men and women and not on mathematical formulas assigning points for wins or losses.
In 1938, for instance, when Don Budge
won the amateur Grand Slam
, it was easy to conclude that Budge was not only the U.S. No. 1 but also the World No. 1 amateur player. It was far more difficult, however, to decide who was the best overall player, amateur or professional, for that year because both Ellsworth Vines