Rafael Nadal on wrong side of Wimbledon seeding controversy

Day 6 Rafael Nadal Wimbledon

Wimbledon has long reserved the right to seed players by its own metric rather than relying on their tour rankings, at least in the men’s game. This year, the seedings were determined by the same formula that Wimbledon has been using, in agreement with the ATP, since 2002. The formula itself takes a player’s ATP ranking points as of June 24th and adds 100% of points won on grass in the last year, before adding 75% of points earned on grass from the previous year.

It may not be as simple as the policy at the other three Slams, but a significant part of Wimbledon’s appeal has become its unique traditions. But this particular tradition has come under fire from two-time former champion Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard has contended that it is unjust that despite being the World #2, he has been demoted to third in the Wimbledon seedings, behind World #1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic and eight-time former champion Roger Federer.

Some in the game have sympathy for Nadal and his frustration is certainly understandable. After all, at Wimbledon last year he advanced further than Federer, who lost in the quarterfinals, and came to within a whisker of beating Djokovic in the semifinals. With the greatest of respect to Kevin Anderson, who the Serbian went on to beat in the final, after his marathon clash with John Isner in their semifinal, it is hard to imagine him having beaten Nadal.

Nadal is also to some extent being penalised for choosing not to play any tour-level warm up events. Federer, in contrast, is a constant presence at the Halle Open, where he won the title for a tenth time earlier this month. That victory, along with his appearance in the final last year, added valuable points to his seeding formula, allowing him to overhaul Nadal. But unfortunately for Nadal, beyond those two arguments, he doesn’t have much of a case to present.

Nadal never took issue with seedings before

Federer has undeniably consistently out-performed Nadal at the All England Club in recent years and has won two titles and reached a further two finals since Nadal last appeared in a title-match at the Championships. But what really puts the nail in Nadal’s coffin is that in every year he has played at Wimbledon, the seeding formula has been the same. That he has only taken issue with it this year when disadvantaged by it seems rather self-interested.

Not that tennis players don’t have the right to be self-interested. In such a competitive and individual sport, one can hardly fault players for trying to eke out any advantage they can. And the prospect of potentially facing Djokovic in the semifinals rather than the final will be as unwelcome to Nadal as it would have been to Federer. But whilst Nadal’s sense of injustice may not be entirely unreasonable, he has the misfortune to find himself on the wrong side of both this argument and the seeding formula.

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  1. Lol… He has every right to say about it… I feel he is on the right side of argument.
    SOmeone need to speak about this and double standards. As they(Wimbledon) feel there is no need for their special formula in seedings in the female segment. It’s a double standards and stupid royal madness which needs to be stopped otherwise Serena would be seeded higher and in top 10.

  2. Disagree. The fomula hasn’t changed in 18 years. He knew that this was how it is determined, and he still chose to avoid any lead up tournaments. Federer doesn’t sit there and complain that there are more clay tournaments leading up to the French Open, so more opportunities for Rafa to add points. He chose to skip clay tournaments some years, chose to enter them in others. There was nothing stopping Rafa from entering a lead up tournament prior to Wimbledon to get his points up – if he cares about the seeding (which apparently he does), then do what you can to get the points. If you don’t care, then don’t enter them, and you’d still be seeded 3rd. Point is, he knew about it, knew the consequences, could have done something about it, but didn’t, and is now complaining about it. Poor form, Rafa.

  3. After draw comes out, boy is he ever on the wrong side of it. Federer, as usual has a cupcake draw, while Rafa is probably in the toughest early rd section of the entire draw. Sugita is overmatched but his best surface is grass and he has had some excellent performances on this surface. Then likely top 10 grasser in world Kyrgios, who on his best, is likely to beat Nadal. Then Nadal gets 1/3 potentially brutal outs Gasquet/Tomic/Shapo all very dangerous on this surface. Federer gets a bye. What a shame.


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