Andy Murray will be world No 4 again by the time the Australian Open begins next Monday but the loss of his position for just seven days will cost him a top-four seeding in the year's first Grand Slam event.
In yesterday's updated ranking list Juan Martin del Potro overtook Murray by just five points, the equivalent of a first-round win in a minor Challenger tournament. The rankings are based on a rolling 12-month total and Murray, who had been in the top four for the last 17 months, lost the 250 points he had earned by winning the Qatar Open last year. Del Potro's points from his victory in Auckland last January will drop off next week.
The fall to No 5 means that Murray will be seeded to meet Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Del Potro in the quarter-finals in Melbourne. The Scot said the loss of one place in the seedings was of no great concern to him. "It doesn't really make a huge difference," he said.
Elena Baltacha, the British women's No 1, rose in the world rankings to a career-high No 83. However, she was beaten 6-4, 6-2 yesterday by Australia's Jelena Dokic in Hobart.
Dan Evans, the British No 4, beat Tsung-Hua Yang, of Taiwan, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in qualifying in Auckland to earn a first-round encounter with Switzerland's Michael Lammer.