How does the professional padel
circuit work ?

3 min. reading
Published on 07/27/23

Padel, a combination of tennis, squash and badminton, has been developing at breakneck speed since its creation in 1969. Already very popular in Spain and South America, padel is fast becoming one of the leading racquet sports and could even overtake tennis in the next few years. And like every popular racquet sport, padel also has its own professional circuit. Deciphering the workings of a rapidly-expanding tour.

The World Padel Tour, the benchmark professional circuit since 2013

In 2006, the first international padel circuit was created: the Padel Pro Tour. It was held in Spain and helped the sport to develop. At first, most of the players were from Spain and Argentina, but the number of international players has continued to rise. In 2013, the World Padel Tour, owned by Spanish company Damm, took the place of the Padel Pro Tour. Today, the World Padel Tour is the most-watched circuit, in which the world's best players compete. The WPT holds between 20 and 30 tournaments a year.

Just as in tennis, progressing through the rounds of these tournaments earns points which can be used to climb up the world rankings. The winners of the "Masters," the main tournaments on the WPT circuit, are awarded 1,700 points. There are five Masters every year: Abu Dhabi, Marbella, Valladolid, Madrid and Buenos Aires. The Master Final, held annually in Barcelona, is the equivalent of the ATP Finals. The top 16 players face off in what is considered the season finale. Added to this are the Opens, the 1000 and the 500, most of which are similar to ATP tournaments, and then the challenger tournaments. This ranking is largely dominated by Spanish and Argentinian players, in both the men's and women's categories. In fact, our champion Juan Lebrón has been working hard on this circuit for the past four years to maintain his world number 1 ranking while competing against the best players on the planet.

A1 Padel, a second independent international circuit

Alongside the World Padel Tour, the A1 Padel – known as the APT Padel Tour before 2023 – is a circuit which is completely independent of the WPT, which also has been holding around 20 tournaments each year since it was created in 2020 by Fabrice Pastor. The businessman from Monaco, a huge padel fan, had decided to launch a second professional circuit to bring padel to the rest of the world, with tournaments held – for the most part – outside Spain.

In 2023, A1P will host 19 tournaments. The two "Grand Masters", the first in New York in August and the second in Italy in September, are the main tournaments of the year. These tournaments award 2,000 points to the winners. Then there are the "Masters", seven in 2023, and finally the Master Final - similar to the WPT circuit final - which awards 1,500 points to the champions. Finally, the "Open" tournaments, nine in 2023, are the 3rd category tournaments. Players earn points in these tournaments and can move up in the rankings. A second ranking - dominated by Argentinian and Spanish players - is also independent of the World Padel Tour ranking.

Premier Padel, an ambitious competitor to the World Padel Tour

The third and most recent professional padel circuit is without a doubt tomorrow's main round. Run by the Fédération Internationale de Padel, the Premier Padel has been financially backed, since its creation in 2022, by Qatari businessman Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, who is also the chairman and CEO of Paris Saint-Germain. After eight successful competitions held in 2022 – four "Major" and four "P1" tournaments – Premier Padel has done it again in 2023 with the same eight tournaments, unlike the other two circuits which constantly replace some tournaments from one year to the next. Premier Padel also has its own ranking, so there are four separate rankings: the WPT ranking, the WPT race ranking (which includes results between January 1st and December 31 of the year), the A1 Padel ranking and the Premier Padel ranking.

Towards a single main circuit starting in 2024

This multiplicity of circuits will soon be a thing of the past, because Premier Padel has acquired a majority stake in the World Padel Tour. Premier Padel has now become the WPT's majority shareholder. Even if the future of padel in 2024 is still uncertain, players will be able to play in all these tournaments without any problem. The name of this new tour - perhaps it will simply be called Premier Padel -, has yet to be announced. So, beginning in 2024, there will be just two professional circuits, the merger of Premier Padel and the World Padel Tour, which will have a single ranking, and A1 Padel, which will remain independent and have its own ranking.

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