Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, and widely considered the most prestigious of them all. It is arguably the most important of all the Grand Slams and A player can never truly be considered a success until he wins in the final at the All-England Club.
This year will be more momentous than others. Seismic changes are afoot which will change the tennis world for a very long time.
Wimbledon’s unique seeding formula led to a movement at the top of the men’s draw sees Novak Djokovic leapfrogged Rafael Nadal to become the No. 1 seed while reigning champion Andy Murray avoided a possible “group of death” when he moved from No. 5 to No. 3.
That moved Australian Open winner and world No. 3 Stanislas Wawrinka outside the top four, as he slipped below Roger Federer too.
Wimbledon is the only tournament of the year not to seed strictly by the ATP rankings. Since 2001, the All England Club has used a formula based on those rankings, but also gives added weight to grass-court results. (Players receive double the points for grass-court events in the past 12 months and a 75% bonus for grass-court events in the 12 months before that. This gives more successful grass-court players a higher ranking.)
Prior to that, a committee determined seeding and would often give advantage to Brits while earning scorn from clay-court virtuosos who dropped down in the seedings.
This year, the formula caused Murray to leap over Wawrinka and Federer to earn a crucial top-four seed. It’s also why Djokovic (2013 finalist) moved past Nadal (2013 first-round victim).
Meaningless to Djokovic and Nadal
Djokovic passing Nadal is meaningless. About the only thing that will change for Djokovic and Nadal is who gets introduced first if the two meet in the final.
If anyone had the right to be upset, it’s Wawrinka, who earned his No. 3 ranking and the protection it brings in a Grand Slam. But by going to No. 5, Wawrinka could theoretically face Murray in the quarters, Djokovic in the semis and Nadal in the finals.
The reason there’s no major change this year is because the seeding formula worked. The top four players on grass should be, in some order, Djokovic, Nadal, Murray and Federer.
The real problem would have come if Wawrinka had played better at Wimbledon last year and Federer had dropped to No. 5. Or if Murray’s injury absence last season made it harder for him to move past Wawrinka. Then, the uproar would have been deafening.