In a significant decision, Wimbledon has done away with its seeding formula for men, used to re-order the top 32 seeds in the main draw by giving extra weight to grass-court performances during a two-year period leading up to the tournament.
Wimbledon, on Friday, announced that the formula, in place since 2002, “had served its time, given the quality of competition, entertainment and modern grass courts”. Seeding will now be based solely on ATP rankings, aligning the tournament with the three other Majors.
The most recent example of the seeding formula’s use came last year when Roger Federer, then ranked No. 3 in the world, was elevated as the second seed in place of Rafael Nadal, the World No. 2. The move left Nadal with a tougher draw.
The rationale behind the use of the formula was the limited opportunities available to gain points on grass. There are only six weeks of grass-court tennis each year, compared to the protracted build-up the other Slams have. So the seeding order was determined thus: ATP Position points + 100% points earned for all grass court tournaments in the past 12 months + 75% points earned for the best grass court tournament in the 12 months before that.
Of particular concern was the stretching of the window for two years. It affected young players in particular. For example, Stefanos Tsitsipas was ranked No. 7 ahead of Wimbledon 2019 but saw Kevin Anderson, the 2018 finalist, leapfrog him in the seedings. Tsitsipas suffered because he was still a rookie in 2017 and 2018 and had no significant results on grass.
There will be no changes to the women’s seeding rule, which broadly follows the WTA ranking, but can be tweaked to produce a “balanced draw”. In 2018, Serena Williams, despite being ranked 183, was given a seeding of 25.
Also on Friday, Wimbledon announced prize money to players “whose world ranking would have enabled them to gain entry into The Championships 2020 by direct acceptance into the Main Draw or Qualifying event”.
The payout per player — £25,000 for singles main draw, £6,250 for doubles and £12,500 for singles qualifying — will benefit many Indians like Ankita Raina and Prajnesh Gunneswaran, both of whom would have made the qualifying draw.
“They are leading the way with regard to supporting the tennis fraternity. A class act!” Prajnesh told The Hindu.