The importance of Andy Murray's rise up the world rankings was emphasised yesterday when he was named as No 12 seed for Wimbledon next week. It means the 21-year-old Scot will not have to play any top players until the fourth round at the earliest.
Although Wimbledon is the only tournament with its own seeding system, giving added weight to grass-court performances over the last two years, the Association of Tennis Professionals' rankings are still the basis of the formula used. Only two months ago Murray was ranked No 22, but his most successful clay-court campaign yet saw him rise to No 11 and, crucially, claim a place among the top 16 seeds for Wimbledon.
While Murray could face a number of potentially tricky encounters in the third round – Ivo Karlovic, Lleyton Hewitt and Gaël Monfils are all possible opponents – he knows he could meet Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic only in the last 16. The draw is made tomorrow.
However, having missed the whole of the grass-court season last year, Murray is seeded one place below his ranking. "I feel like I am one of the top grass-court players in the world, but because I missed Wimbledon I am going to lose out, which I think is a little bit tough," he said. "I personally think it should just be done on the rankings."
The main beneficiaries are Marcos Baghdatis, seeded 10 but with a ranking of 25, and Tomas Berdych, seeded 11 but ranked 19. Richard Gasquet, beaten by Federer in the semi-finals last year, moves up only one place, but as No 8 seed would avoid all the big guns until the quarter-finals.
Any adjustments to the women's seedings are decided by a committee. Venus Williams, the defending champion and world No 7, and Marion Bartoli, last year's beaten finalist and world No 11, might have hoped for a boost in their seedings, but Wimbledon decided instead to stick to the rankings.
Bartoli has been out of sorts lately, a wrist injury even threatening her return to the All England Club, but the 23-year-old Frenchwoman recovered her form in emphatic fashion in the International Women's Open at Eastbourne yesterday when she beat Sybille Bammer, the world No 27, 6-3, 6-0. "This week everything seems to have come right," she said. "I feel really good."
With Wimbledon just around the corner Amelie Mauresmo, the 2006 champion, took the precaution of pulling out after only three games against Sam Stosur when she suffered a thigh injury.
The top seed, Svetlana Kuznetsova, was beaten 6-2, 6-2 by the 17-year-old Dane, Caroline Wozniacki. The Russian world No 5 called yesterday's windy conditions "pretty disgusting".