On Wednesday, Wimbledon announced its 2019 seedings for the singles and doubles events, reigniting the debate over whether the tournament’s unique grass-court formula has merit, or detracts from the game.
The formula, enacted in 2002 but used only in the gentlemen’s singles event, enabled eight-time champion Roger Federer to leapfrog world No. 2 Rafael Nadal for the second seed, while last year’s finalist, Kevin Anderson, jumped four spots from his No. 8 ranking to the favorable No. 4 seed. The systematic approach rewards grass-court performances by taking ATP ranking points as of June 24, 2019 and adding 100 percent of points accrued on the surface in the past 12 months, plus 75 percent of points earned on grass the year prior to 2018 Wimbledon.
Nadal did not enter a Wimbledon lead-up event over the past three weeks, while Federer captured his 10th Halle crown this past Sunday, which ultimately provided the Swiss the decisive boost he needed to overtake the Spaniard. Speaking on the Spanish TV station Vamos, Nadal said Tuesday, “I don't think it's a good thing that Wimbledon is the only one with its own seeding formula.”
As a result of dropping to the No. 3 seed, Nadal could be drawn in the same half as top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who prevailed in their thrilling semifinal last year before defeating Anderson to win his fourth Wimbledon crown. The Serbian commiserated with Nadal, a two-time winner at the All England Club.
“Roger is the greatest of all time and has won the most Wimbledon titles of any player in history and if any player deserves it, it's him,” Djokovic told Reuters. “But at the same time, it's Nadal that he is taking over so it's surprising, to be honest.”
Nadal added, “It's their choice. Either way, being second or third seed, I have to play at the best level to aspire to the things I [want]. It is better to be second than third, but if they consider that I have to be third, I will accept [it]."
Anderson’s noteworthy rise most significantly impacted two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem, as the world No. 4 was bumped to No. 5. The Austrian will have a 75 percent chance of landing in the same quarter as Djokovic, Federer and Nadal, while Anderson, who missed the entire clay-court season with a right elbow injury, is guaranteed to avoid all members of the Big 3 until the last four. The draw will be made on Friday.
The ladies’ singles seeding proceeded with the current WTA rankings, confirming French Open champion Ashleigh Barty will make her major debut as a world No. 1 and top seed. Current US Open and Australian Open titlist Naomi Osaka is seeded second, with reigning Wimbledon trophy holder Angelique Kerber coming in as the No. 5 seed. Two-time winner Petra Kvitova is the No. 6 seed and seven-time champion Serena Williams, last year's runner-up, is seeded 11th.