Wimbledon 2013: Seedings system under fire as Nadal ranked fifth

16:33 19 June 2013

Rafael Nadal. Photo: PA Wire

Rafael Nadal. Photo: PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Wimbledon’s clinical procedure for determining its men’s seeds was called into question today as Rafael Nadal was afforded scant grace for his stunning career record on grass or his world-leading seven titles this year.

Instead, Nadal found his seeding unmoved from his world ranking of fifth, an arguably false position caused by a seven-month injury lay-off from which he returned in February.

At number four in the seedings stood David Ferrer, a fellow Spaniard of Nadal who has reached one Wimbledon quarter-final and never won a major.

Nadal has won the grass-court grand slam twice, in 2008 and 2010, and been a runner-up in south-west London three times, and has made a mockery this year of suggestions his career could be at a crossroads after the knee trouble that forced him onto the sidelines for the second half of last season.

Brad Gilbert, the former coach of Andy Murray and Andre Agassi, said Wimbledon’s decision was a “100% joke”.

It came about not through deliberation of the tournament’s selection committee, but by the mathematical formula adopted by Wimbledon after liaison with the men’s tour, the ATP, in 2002.

World ranking is the first factor taken into consideration, with a player’s points supplemented by another layer of points gleaned from the grass-court events he has played in the past 12 months, and a final tranche coming in the form of 75% of the points he collected in the previous 12 months.

That meant Nadal’s run to the 2011 final counted in his favour, but last year’s second-round loss to Czech player Lukas Rosol hit him hard.

While Nadal may wonder what more he could have done this year to earn a top-four seeding - since his return he has lost just two matches and landed his eighth French Open title - there was no doubting Wimbledon’s decision would make Friday’s draw suddenly more than the routine occasion it can typically be.

If the leading players progress according to their seeding, Nadal will lie in wait in the quarter-finals for one of world number one Novak Djokovic, number two Andy Murray, defending champion Roger Federer, or Ferrer.

The potential therefore remains for Murray to have to overcome Nadal, Federer and Djokovic in succession from the last-eight stage onwards to achieve his dream of adding the Wimbledon title to his US Open triumph.

Gilbert wrote on Twitter: “I will say 100% joke Ferrer seeded over Rafa no.”

Nadal was at Wimbledon today, attuning himself to the grass surface. Of his nine tournaments this year, eight have been contested on clay and the other, the Indian Wells Masters event, was on a hard court.

Wimbledon say of their seeding system: “The seeding order is determined using an objective and transparent system to reflect more accurately an individual player’s grass court achievements.”

A human touch, rather than the computer’s calculations, might have produced a different outcome though.

The likes of Murray, Djokovic and Federer would argue that, to be champion, a player must beat the best and that it should not matter at what stage they are encountered.

Indeed Murray wrote in his BBC blog this week: “I’d sign up to be in the quarter-finals against Rafa tomorrow if someone offered me that.”

Bravado is great, but it would hardly be ideal for home hopes to see Nadal in Murray’s quarter of the draw.

Defending champion Serena Williams is the women’s top seed, ahead of Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska, who make up the top four.

The Wimbledon committee has the authority to make changes to the women’s rankings in its seedings, but it elected not to do so this year, naming the world’s top 32 in order.

There was an early alteration when Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova withdrew due to an abdominal strain, and the world number 26’s move meant the players behind her each moved up a place, with Czech Klara Zakopalova promoted from rank and file to the number 32 seeding.

Men’s seedings (1-16):

1. Novak Djokovic (Ser)

2. Andy Murray (Gbr)

3. Roger Federer (Swi)

4. David Ferrer (Spa)

5. Rafael Nadal (Spa)

6. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Fra)

7. Tomas Berdych (Cze)

8. Juan Martin del Potro (Arg)

9. Richard Gasquet (Fra)

10. Marin Cilic (Cro)

11. Stanislas Wawrinka (Swi)

12. Kei Nishikori (Jpn)

13. Tommy Haas (Ger)

14. Janko Tipsarevic (Ser)

15. Nicolas Almagro (Spa)

16. Philipp Kohlschreiber (Ger)

Women’s seedings (1-16)

1. Serena Williams (USA)

2. Victoria Azarenka (Blr)

3. Maria Sharapova (Rus)

4. Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol)

5. Sara Errani (Ita)

6. Li Na (Chn)

7. Angelique Kerber (Ger)

8. Petra Kvitova (Cze)

9. Caroline Wozniacki (Den)

10. Maria Kirilenko (Rus)

11. Roberta Vinci (Ita)

12. Ana Ivanovic (Ser)

13. Nadia Petrova (Rus)

14. Samantha Stosur (Aus)

15. Marion Bartoli (Fra)

16. Jelena Jankovic (Ser)

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