Wimbledon seeds won’t be announced until Wednesday, but barring a (possible but unlikely) discretionary bump by the All England Club, the top five seeds at Wimbledon will follow the ATP rankings. No. 1 Novak Djokovic will lead the way as the top seed with Andy Murray staying ahead of 2012 champion Roger Federer for the No. 2 seed and two-time champion Rafael Nadal stuck at the No. 5 seed.
Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 Wimbledon champion, will be behind No. 4 David Ferrer, whom Nadal beat in the French Open final. Ferrer has made it past the fourth round of Wimbledon once, making the quarterfinals last year.
Unlike the other three Slams, Wimbledon is not bound to follow the ATP rankings when it comes to seeding its own tournament by virtue of its status as a private club (the other Slams are run by tennis federations). Prior to 2001, seeds were determined by a committee. Since 2001, the All England Club has applied a seeding formula that takes into account a player’s historical success on grass. The formula only applies to the men’s seeds (the women’s seeding remains at the full discretion of The Club), but it’s been responsible for some notable seed bumps in the past.
Without the benefit of the formula, Andy Roddick would have gone into his last Wimbledon unseeded last year. Instead, his grass success bumped him up to earn No. 30 out of 32 seeds. Bernard Tomic, who made the quarterfinals in 2011, got bumped up seven spots last year as well, to No. 20. In 2011, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga earned a seven-spot jump from No. 19 to No. 12, a move that paved the way for his quarterfinal upset of Federer that year.
The formula takes a player’s ATP ranking points as of the Monday before Wimbledon, adds the points earned for all grass tournaments in the past 12 months and 75 percent of the points earned in the best grass-court tournament in the 12 months before that. Given the paucity of grass-court tournaments throughout the year, The Club’s formula looks to reward those players who have demonstrated recent and repeated success on the surface. The formula also helps bolster the importance of tournaments such as Queen’s, Halle, Newport and s’Hertogenbosch. A win at any of those tournaments could be vital in providing protection in the Wimbledon draw.
Djokovic is assured the No. 1 seed. His current ATP rankings points outpace Murray’s weighted totals. Assuming The Club takes into account last year’s Olympic results, which were played on grass, Murray has at least 10,890 points (including his semifinal points from Queen’s) by virtue of his 2012 Wimbledon final, Olympic gold and his 2011 Wimbledon semifinal. Federer follows behind him with at least 10,450 points (including his semifinal points from Halle), thanks to his 2012 Wimbledon title, Olympic silver and a 2011 Wimbledon quarterfinal. Murray and Federer’s final totals depend on their results this weekend in Queen’s and Halle, respectively.
Of course, the seedings question on everyone’s mind as the French Open wound down was whether Nadal would go into Wimbledon as the No. 4 or No. 5 seed. His dominance over the last five months helped him reclaim the No. 4 ranking from Ferrer before the French Open began, but Ferrer’s run to the final in Paris allowed him to retake the spot when the ATP rankings came out on Monday.
(Now before the cries of “How could Nadal win the French Open and drop in the rankings” reach an already ridiculous crescendo, it bears repeating that the ATP rankings are based on a revolving 12-month calendar and Nadal didn’t play for seven of those months. Ferrer made the semifinals of two of the Slams Nadal skipped. I mean, do the math. It really does make sense.)
Ferrer’s Paris success combined with Nadal’s early exit last year at Wimbledon quash Nadal’s chances for a top-four seed (well, that and the fact that he missed seven months) unless he gets a discretionary bump. Ferrer’s weighted point total takes into account his 2012 s’Hertogenbosch title, Wimbledon quarterfinal, third round at the Olympics and the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2011, giving him 8,035 points.
Nadal will come in behind Ferrer by 195 points with a weighted tally of 7,840. That figure takes into account Nadal’s second-round loss at Wimbledon last year as well as his Wimbledon final the year before. Playing Halle this week would have given him a shot at catching Ferrer, but he withdrew after making the French Open final. With Nadal seeded fifth, he has the same chance of being drawn against Djokovic, Murray or Federer as he would Ferrer, who has made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon only once.
The risk of that imbalanced draw was something we saw in Indian Wells when Nadal and Federer played each other in the quarterfinals of a tournament for the first time since their first meeting in 2004. Given Nadal’s current form, which has seen him make the final of all nine tournaments he’s played this year and winning seven of them, the All England Club must be crossing their fingers Nadal isn’t in the same quarter as one of the other Big Four members come Friday’s draw release.