Does Wimbledon's unique seeding make a difference to the draw?
June 20, 2012 | 09:26 PM
Not much has gone right for Andy Roddick this year; the only higher ranked player he's beaten is Federer (in Miami), and he's lost to 8 players ranked beneath him. But when #15 Gael Monfils announced he would not play, Roddick (ranked #33) moved into seeding consideration by the All England Lawn Tennis Club. As he ended up seeded 30th, ahead of the two men ranked just above him, it appears he might have been given a seed regardless of Monfils. Perhaps deservedly so: in the past 10 years he's been in more Wimbledon finals (3) than anyone but Federer (7) and Nadal (5). Today was also a good day for Andy because he broke a losing streak of 6 in a row going back to Miami, when he lost 7-5, 6-0 to Juan Monaco.
Whether the AELTC would have seeded Roddick over a top 32 player if Monfils hadn't withdrawn is an interesting question, especially if you're the man named Kevin Anderson, the #30 ranked player who received the last of 32 seedings. Had Kevin not been seeded, whatever seed might have drawn the 6'8" big server in the first round would have had reason to complain. Last week at Queen's on grass, he upset #17 seed Lopez. Anderson has won 6 of his last 9 matches on grass.
Wimbledon is the only tournament which does seed players strictly according to their latest ranking. Among the men, Roddick's seeding elevation isn't unusual or even the most dramatic example. Berdych was the only top 8 seed to be elevated (from 6 to 5 over Ferrer), but there were many others elevated; among them:
- Bernard Tomic was elevated more places than any other player (6 spots up to #20). The 19 year old is only playing in his 3rd Wimbledon, but has qualified the last two. His reaching the quarterfinals last year after winning 7 matches in a row is certainly the reason for his dramatic elevation. While he has a winning record in 2012 (19-14), he lost in the 1st round last week in Halle (retiring to Haas at 2-5 in the 1st set) and again today in Eastbourne, where he was 4th seeded (in 3 sets to Fognini).
- Mikhail Youzhny was elevated 5 spots to #26. He has a 22-11 record at Wimbledon and has reached the 4th round (second week) six of 11 times. His 19-9 record in 2012 has helped him improve his ranking only 3 places, but the AELTC is more bullish on him than the five men ranked just above him. Among these 5 is Philip Kohlschreiber, who upset Nadal last week at Halle, where he lost in the semi-finals to eventual title winner Tommy Haas (7-6, 7-5). Kohlschreiber's seeding was also elevated two spots to #27 from his ranking.
- Mardy Fish (ranked 12th) was awarded the 10th seed, ahead of both #10 Isner and #11 Almagro. Though Mardy never went past the 3rd round in his first 8 Wimbledons, last year he reached the quarters after upsetting Berdych, and lost in 4 sets to Nadal. Last year's success seems to outweigh the fact that he's struggled for the past year and only won 7 matches in 2012.
In all, there were 10 seeding elevations among the men (and 10 devaluations). None will be significant to the eventual placement of seeds in other seeds' brackets in the draw, which is done according to groupings:
- 3 and 4 are drawn into separate halves
- 5-8 are drawn into quarters with 1 - 4
- 9-12 are draw into 4th round brackets with 5-8
- 13-16 are drawn into 4th round brackets with 1-4
- 17-24 are drawn into 3rd round brackets with 9-16
- 25-32 are drawn into 3rd round brackets with 1-8
With so many elevations, it is probably no accident that they seem to have been done with this formula in mind so that individual players were neither promoted or demoted from a grouping that would provide significant advantage or disadvantage. The question is: why do it at all if it is not significant?
The answer may be that it is because it is the way it has always been done at Wimbledon, a club which is so anxious to recognize and please those players who have performed especially well there that it awards its winners with life time membership to the club.
Interestingly, among the women this year, there were 0 elevations not due to the withdrawals of #16 Kanepi and #18 Petkovic.
- 4 time winner Serena, who won the title in 2011 and 2010 and was a finalist in 2009, didn't get a bump from #6 over #5 Stosur, who has only once in 9 times reached even the 3rd round. Venus, at #55, was just too far below to receive a top 32 seeding, but does anyone think #28 seeded American Christina McHale, who at age 19 played in her first Wimbledon last year and lost in the 2nd round, is more likely to win the title this year than 5 time winner Venus?
- Last year's winner, Kvitova, who reached the semis in 2010, was left at #4 behind Radwanska, who's never gone beyond the quarters
Clearly, Wimbledon has concluded that second guessing women's rankings can only make them look silly. Good thinking on this account. The last time a #1 seed won the event was probably in 2003 (Serena).
Four American men have made it through the Wimbledon qualifying, winning their 3rd rounds today:
- Brian Baker: the 27 year old come-back kid will play for the first time
- Ryan Sweeting: qualified for the 3rd year in a row (lost to Nadal in 2nd round last year)
- Michael Russell: won a 5 setter today and will play for a 6th time (lost to Nadal in 3rd round last year)
- Jesse Levine: qualified for a 4th time in a row (reached the 3rd round in 2009)
DRAWS for Wimbledon will be done on Friday.