Andy Murray’s attempted defence of his Wimbledon title was boosted when he was bumped up to third seed yesterday, so he will not face Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal or Roger Federer until the semi-finals.
World No 5 Murray was hoisted up the pecking order thanks to Wimbledon’s unique seeding policy for the men’s singles which takes into account recent grasscourt results.
Twice former champion Rafa Nadal, the world No 1, paid the price for failing to get past the second round in the last two years as he was seeded two, with Serbian Djokovic, whom Murray beat in last year’s final, hoisted to top seed.
Murray became the first Briton to win the men’s singles title since 1936 last July and will open play on Centre Court when the tournament starts on Monday.
Seven-times champion Federer of Switzerland was named as the fourth seed, meaning that he, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray cannot face each other before the semi-finals.
Djokovic, champion in 2011, said he was surprised to be top seed. “A little bit to be honest. I appreciate the respect that I get from the Wimbledon tournament – I always tried to perform my best tennis in this tournament,” he said. “I dreamt to win, which happened in 2011. I had some success there, many semi-finals and finals, and it may have affected the decision. It’s a responsibility, an extra pressure if I can say it like that.
“It’s all part of the sport, it’s a privilege and a responsibility I have to overcome as a top player. I have to deliver my best game in London.” Wimbledon is the only grand slam that does not automatically follow the men’s rankings when seedings are decided. Instead, officials rely on a three-stage formula which takes into account grass-court performances of the past two seasons.
Murray won last year’s Wimbledon and reached the final in 2012 when he also won the Olympics on the All England Club turf. The Scot is scheduled to play an exhibition match at IMG’s BNP Paribas Tennis Classic at the Hurlingham Club today, before fine-tuning preparations back at his Wimbledon base.
Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka will be seeded fifth despite his world ranking of three, having lost in the first round in 2012 and last year.
World No 1 Serena Williams is top of the women’s seedings, which mirror the WTA rankings, followed by Li Na and French Open runner-up Simona Halep. French Open champion Maria Sharapova is the fifth seed. The draw takes place tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Heather Watson recovered from a set down to beat sixth seed Flavia Pennetta 6-7 (8/6), 6-4, 6-2 as the British No 1 stormed through to the Aegon International quarter-finals in Eastbourne.
The 22 year old lost a tight opening set on a tie-break but showed great powers of recovery to turn the match on its head and will now face a tough examination against second seed Petra Kvitova after the Czech beat Varvara Lepchenko 6-1, 6-4.
Watson is the last Brit in the competition following Johanna Konta’s loss to Camila Giorgi.
Unlike Watson, Konta started well in her Anglo-Italian battle but, after taking the first set, she slipped to a 1-6, 7-5, 7-5 defeat.
Top seed Richard Gasquet advanced into the men’s last eight at the expense of Bernard Tomic. The Frenchman, seeded 13th for Wimbledon, recorded a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 success and will face Martin Klizan of Slovakia next.
Klizan beat American Donald Young in their second-round tussle, claiming a 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 victory. Gasquet’s compatriot Edouard Roger-Vasselin also progressed, beating Jarkko Nieminen 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) to set up a clash against Denis Istomin.
British interest in Wimbledon’s singles qualifying was ended by defeats for both Emily Webley-Smith and Gabi Taylor at Roehampton. Webley-Smith, who reached the second round of the main Wimbledon draw in 2004, fought back to level her match with Danka Kovinic at one set all, but the 29-year-old eventually went out against the sixth seeded world No 107 from Montenegro 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.
Teenager Taylor had beaten Sofia Arvidsson, a former world No 29, to progress through to round three of qualifying, but could not reproduce that form as she lost 6-3, 6-4 to Tereza Smitkova of the Czech Republic.
Hopes in the men’s draw were over on Tuesday after Oli Golding and Brydan Klein both lost.