Wimbledon's decision to seed Rafael Nadal at No 5 is a joke, says Brad Gilbert

 

The All England Club was branded a "joke" last night after its decision to seed Rafael Nadal fifth in the men's draw for Wimbledon.

The Spaniard is the French Open champion, has won more ranking points and prize money this year than any of his rivals and lost just two matches in his last nine tournaments, but will start Wimbledon next week behind his compatriot David Ferrer. In announcing the seedings the All England Club stuck to its established formula, which is based on the world rankings with a small adjustment to take into account grass-court results over the last two years.

Brad Gilbert, Andy Murray's former coach, said on Twitter that Nadal's seeding behind Ferrer was a "joke", while John McEnroe said it would be "absolutely wrong" if Nadal met [Novak] Djokovic, Murray or [Roger] Federer in the quarter-finals. "In my opinion there is no doubt [Nadal] should be in the top four," McEnroe said. "If he ran into Ferrer in the quarter-finals it would be the same old, same old because Ferrer is used to running into one of the big four in the last eight."

Wimbledon's policy on the women's seedings is more flexible – they reserve the right to change the seedings to produce "a balanced draw" – but the world rankings have been followed to the letter this year. Serena Williams, the world No 1, is seeded to meet Victoria Azarenka in the final. Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova pulled out of with an abdominal strain.

Nadal is paying the price for not earning any ranking points in the seven months that followed his shock defeat to Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon last year. A knee injury kept the 27-year-old off the court until he began his comeback in February and, despite his spectacularly successful return, he is currently the world No 5 behind Djokovic, Murray, Federer and Ferrer. The potential consequences of Nadal's low seeding will be clear when the draw is made tomorrow. If all the top men live up to their seedings, Nadal will meet one of those four players ranked above him in the quarter-finals.

Djokovic and Murray, who will be in opposite halves of the draw and can meet only in the final, could face very different passages. One might have to dine at the top table, with matches against Nadal in the quarter-finals and Federer in the semis, while the other might enjoy a picnic against Juan Martin del Potro and then Ferrer.

While none of the players is complaining – "I'd sign up to be in the quarter-finals against Rafa tomorrow if someone offered me that," Murray said in a column for the BBC – others believe the All England Club should have made an exception in this case.

Wimbledon 2013: Top 10 seeds

Men's singles

1 Novak Djokovic (Serb)

2 Andy Murray (GB)

3 Roger Federer (Swit)

4 David Ferrer (Sp)

5 Rafael Nadal (Sp)

6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Fr)

7 Tomas Berdych (Cz Rep)

8 Juan Martin del Potro (Arg)

9 Richard Gasquet (Fr)

10 Marin Cilic (Croa)

Women's singles

1 Serena Williams (US)

2 Victoria Azarenka (Bela)

3 Maria Sharapova (Rus)

4 Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol)

5 Sara Errani (It)

6 Li Na (Chin)

7 Angelique Kerber (Ger)

8 Petra Kvitova (Cz Rep)

9 Caroline Wozniacki (Den)

10 Maria Kirilenko (Rus)

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