With British hopes of elusive home success once again resting on his shoulders, Andy Murray could have been forgiven an envious glance Novak Djokovic’s way after the Wimbledon draw was made on Friday.
Top seed Djokovic got lucky with the two other members of the so-called ‘big four’, defending champion Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, ending up in second seed Murray’s half.
It could have been worse for Murray too – he was spared a potential quarter-final with fifth seed Nadal – although the Scot knows that should he reach the last four Nadal or Federer will most likely be waiting.
“I have no issue with the seeding. I’d rather Rafa and Roger were on the other side of the draw, but they’re not,” the 26-year-old, bidding to go one better than last year when he became Britain’s first men’s finalist here since 1938, told reporters.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to put myself in a position where that becomes relevant, because that would mean getting to the semi-finals, and I’d love to be there.”
The ATP rankings system means Spain’s David Ferrer is fourth seed at Wimbledon this year and Djokovic’s predicted semi-final foe. While there is no disputing Ferrer’s credibility as a grand slam contender, 12-times major winner Nadal is clearly superior.
Wimbledon’s seeding criteria can adjust the world rankings, depending on recent grasscourt results, but Ferrer’s quarter-final run last year and Nadal’s shock second round exit meant there was no chance the Mallorcan would be bumped up.
Murray believes it is a fair system.
Even with the formula and stuff, because of Rafa's result here last year it was always going to be difficult for him to move up in the seedings
“I really don’t think it (Nadal’s seeding) should have been (higher),” said Murray, who has lost his three Wimbledon clashes with Nadal.
“Even with the formula and stuff, because of Rafa’s result here last year it was always going to be difficult for him to move up in the seedings.
“Ferrer made the quarters of Wimbledon last year, made the semis of the U.S. Open, he made semis at the Australian Open. The guy deserves to be seeded where he is. It’s not like he’s got there by fluke.”
Djokovic may feel he was due a break.
The Serb had the misfortune to face claycourt king Nadal in the semi-finals of the French Open, losing an epic five-setter in what was effectively the final in most people’s eyes. Nadal then beat Ferrer to claim an eighth Roland Garros title.
“I honestly wasn’t thinking about it too much because it’s a matter of luck and it’s a matter of a coin toss,” Djokovic, looking for his second Wimbledon title, told reporters.
“Some people would say that I was, you know, lucky with the draw. But it’s a grand slam, so I don’t think that there is any easy way to the title.”
With the queues already forming and ‘Murray Mania’ about to get into full swing, at least the Scot’s first round should not cause him or his followers too many headaches.
Germany’s 32-year-old world number 95 Benjamin Becker, who Murray beat on the way to winning this month’s Queen’s Club title, is his first hurdle on Monday.