Andy Murray may have to beat Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic to win Wimbledon 2013
British number one bemoans ranking system
Rafael Nadal did not complain, but Andy Murray has criticised the world rankings system which will see the 27-year-old Spaniard seeded fifth when Wimbledon begins in 13 days.
Less than 24 hours after claiming a record eighth French Open title, Nadal dropped one place to No 5 in yesterday's updated world ranking list. Although Wimbledon tweaks the rankings in deciding on its seeds – extra weight is given to results on grass – its formula will still mean Nadal is seeded behind David Ferrer, the man he beat in the final in Paris on Sunday.
With Nadal seeded fifth, the Wimbledon draw could place three of the game's big four players in the same half. That could mean, for example, that Murray would have to beat Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic to win the title.
The rankings are based on a rolling total of points earned over the last 12 months. While Nadal has swept all before him since returning from injury in February, he did not earn any points during the seven months he was out. Ferrer replaced him at No 4 because he won more points in Paris than he had 12 months ago, whereas the defending champion could only match his 2012 return at best.
"That is unfortunately the way the ranking system works in tennis," Murray told the BBC. "It's a one-year ranking whereas with golf it is a two-year ranking, so even if one of the best [golfers] in the world gets injured, they can still maintain their ranking. In tennis, if you miss four or five months it is almost impossible to maintain your ranking. So Rafa will be seeded five for Wimbledon, which is tough as he is better than that. Unfortunately, that is how our ranking system works."
Murray added: "I saw that with the bookies Djokovic is the favourite, I'm second favourite, then Rafa third, then Roger. But who knows with the way Rafa played at the French Open? He can beat anyone playing like that.
"But it's a completely different surface and he hasn't played on the grass for a year, so there will be some doubts there. He played incredibly well at the end of the tournament, especially against Djokovic, so physically he is in very good shape." Murray, who missed the French Open because of injury, returns to competition here tomorrow at the Aegon Championships, where he faces either Nicolas Mahut or Rhyne Williams.
The Scot could find himself as one of only two Britons in the men's draw at Wimbledon, alongside James Ward, the world No 215. The All England Club is due to announce its first batch of wild cards today and the Lawn Tennis Association usually recommends awarding them to home players only if they are ranked in the world's top 250. Ward, who lost in the first round here yesterday to Croatia's Ivan Dodig after failing to convert two match points in a 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 defeat, is the only other Briton in the top 250.
Dan Evans continued to underline his talent with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Argentina's Guido Pella, the world No 75. However, at No 277 in the rankings the 23-year-old from Birmingham could find himself having to fight his way through next week's Wimbledon qualifying tournament to make the main draw. "I've heard they're pretty strict on the 250 rule, so I'm guessing I'll be in qualies," Evans said.
With first-round losers at Wimbledon receiving £23,000 this year, the All England Club will not want to be seen awarding wild cards to undeserving cases. Although Evans has performed Davis Cup heroics in the last two years, there have been times when he has not helped himself. Only two months ago he admitted he did not reproduce his Davis Cup form week in and week out because he did not work hard enough.
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