Last year, Rafael Nadal came into Wimbledon ranked No. 2, riding high after lifting his 11th Roland Garros trophy. Yet, he was dropped to No. 3 in the draw due to the tournament’s special grass-court formula used for seeding.
When Roger Federer triumphed on grass at the ATP 500 event in Halle, the result propelled him to No. 2, ensuring the Swiss could not meet Novak Djokovic until the final. At the time, Nadal expressed his dissatisfaction at the tournament’s methodology for seeding, telling Movistar, “It’s not only about my particular case. There have been many occasions when players have played well all year on all surfaces but Wimbledon does not respect the ranking they have earned. For this reason, they get more complicated draws.”
Nadal ended up landing in Federer’s half, but won’t have to face the scenario of being bumped again. While there is no Wimbledon taking place this year as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the All England Club has remained active, and on Friday, announced the formula—only used for the gentlemen’s singles draw—would be abolished.
“Since last year’s Championships, we have also taken the time to give consideration to the evolution of the sport and the mechanisms of allocating seeding for The Championships,” a statement read. “Given the quality of competition, entertainment and modern grass courts, following detailed discussion with the player groups, the AELTC has decided that the grass court seeding formula used since 2002 has served its time, and from The Championships 2021 seeding for the Gentlemen’s singles draw will be based solely on ranking. There will be no change to the method of seeding for the Ladies’ singles draw.”
The AELTC also shared several further updates, including the distribution of 2020 prize money stemming from pandemic insurance coverage to 620 players. The breakdown is as follows and is based on players gaining direct entry with their current rankings: £25,000 for 256 main draw singles competitors; £12,500 for 224 qualifying entrants; £6,250 for 120 main draw doubles participants; £6,000 for 16 players set to contest Wheelchair events; and £5,000 for four players who would have played the Quad Wheelchair events. Players will receive payment for one event only.
“Immediately following the cancellation of The Championships, we turned our attention to how we could assist those who help make Wimbledon happen,” said Richard Lewis CBE, AELTC Chief Executive. We know these months of uncertainty have been very worrying for these groups, including the players, many of whom have faced financial difficulty during this period and who would have quite rightly anticipated the opportunity to earn prize money at Wimbledon based on their world ranking.
“We are pleased that our insurance policy has allowed us to recognize the impact of the cancellation on the players and that we are now in a position to offer this payment as a reward for the hard work they have invested in building their ranking to a point where they would have gained direct entry into The Championships 2020.”
Financial outreach was also extended to the LTA and international officiating communities. The tournament previously announced a Wimbledon Foundation coronavirus fund, with £1.2 million going toward “charities tackling the crisis response and recovery.”