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Thursday, 29 June, 2000, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Does Wimbledon's seeding system work?
As a number of Wimbledon's top ranked seeds suffered early defeats at the hands of unfancied opponents, is this proof that the tournament's seeding system doesn't work?
The seeding system at Wimbledon has been under close scrutiny since the withdrawal of the Spanish players Alex Corretja and Alberta Costa.
They claimed the system was biased and favoured grass court specialists, totally ignoring the universally recognised ATP world rankings.
Wimbledon is the only tournament in the world which has the power to ignore these rankings and select seeds using their own criteria.
Results this week have seen the demise of many of Wimbledon's chosen seeds from Britain's own Greg Rusedski, through to Magnus Norman and Cedric Pioline in the men's singles, and Conchita Martinez and Nathalie Tauziat in the women's event.
In fact, 14 of the 32 seeds selected were already eliminated by the end of the tournament's third day.
Does this prove Wimbledon's seeding system just doesn't work?
Jeroen Minoodt, Belgium
Face it- Wimbledon is unique and special, and part of its mystique comes from being a true Club. I think there is definitely a tendency to bias in the seedings, especially to give a little edge to the British players, but it wouldn't be Wimbledon if it were like any other ATP tournament. Looking at the bigger picture, if you are a great player then you will get seeded. So don't boycott- that's just prima donna nit-picking behavior and doesn't impact anything significantly. Instead, carry on and show 'em you can play.
Last opinion from me- I think all surfaces really are different, and while rankings should take into account all tournaments in a period of time, seedings should reflect the factor of the surface in a player's chances. Because it IS a factor, and not just with grass!
Shea Bennett, England
Rich Clark, England
Given that Wimbledon is the only grand slam tournament on grass, is recognised by the leading players to be the greatest tournament that they play and the one they most want to win, form on grass is very difficult to predict. Most tournaments these days are played on other surfaces than grass, and surely therefore to follow the ATP rankings rigidly does not make sense. If a player wants to make a point about his agreement (or lack of it) with the seeding for each year, the way to prove his/her point is to outplay those who are seeded and win through to the final, not to withdraw from the tournament - which proves nothing, except what a bad sportsperson he/she is.
The seeding system is pointless as it only adds more numbers to a players name, as this year it has proven that it doen't always work anyway. I also think thats it unfair to some players that don't get seeded because they deserve to get seeded. It should be that all the players are unseeded!
I think that Wimbledon has got it slightly wrong this year. Either seed all players strictly according to their rankings or seed as you want to with the present champions as No 1. Unfortunately with the new ranking system in force this year, Wimbledon have not done one or the other. Having ignored the seedings in the men's draw by putting Pete Sampras as No 1 (when he isn't ), and following the seedings in the women's draw, except for No 1 where Martina Hingis goes instead of the defending champion just shows that they didn't really know what they were doing.
Emily McCauley, Northern Ireland
Corretja and Costa have withdrawn from the tournament because they haven't received the recognition they feel they deserve, however neither have ever proved themselves capable of playing well in grass court tournaments. Surely seedings should reflect a player's ability to achieve success rather than catering to over inflated egos.
The seeding system works. Grass is such a different surface that the ATP rankings are not relevant. A bigger problem for British fans is how to get more talented British players into Wimbledon. Eliminate the snobbery and channel some of the considerable surpluses accrued by the All England Club to indoor courts in major cities, where working class kids can learn how to play the game. In other words, make the 'All England Club' live up to its name.
The number of seeded players who have suffered early defeats has nothing to do with the seeding system. This year's draw has resulted in a lot of interesting match-ups in the early rounds, and I personally expected that half the seeded players would be out of the tournament after the second round. You have to remember that the top players are usually not playing their best untill late in the tounament, and when they face quality opponents in the early rounds, anything can happen. Hewitt would not have lost to Gambill in the fifth round, but in the first round it's a pretty even match-up.
I like the seeding system at Wimbledon. I think the favourites should also be seeded. Look at the match that should have been - Krajicek v Costa. I think the right player was seeded in that match.
I strongly disagree with the seedings at Wimbledon. Why should Rusedski be favoured when he has such a miserable season to a player like Martin, who has reached at least the fourth round in most of his Wimbledon tournaments. When everyone else in the world agrees with the ATP ranking why should the All England Club favour someone of its choice. It's very very partial and unfair to all those guys sweating out there in the ATP tournaments. When ATP forces players to attend all the Grand Slams, they should also see to it that no one goes against their rankings. I could only pity the All Engalnd Club with their brilliant seedings failing.
I don't think there is anything wrong with the seedings at Wimbledon. If the people that think they are so good that they say they should have been seeded then those people should be able to go out there and beat the seeded players.
The whole beauty of Wimbledon is that anything can happen. Making the players seeded due to how they play on grass courts, even though it may not be right justs adds to the excitement that the tournament produces.
John Ngo, UK
The seedings at Wimbledon are very different from all other majors. The reason for this is because of the grass surface. I think it has been working prety well for the past years. But it is about time the governing body of all the tennis tournaments changed or revised the policies and rules with regards to the tournament seedings. I do not know what the present poliy on seedings is, but whatever it is, it should be followed by both the tournamnet organisers and by the players themselves.
The whole beauty of Wimbledon is that anything can happen. Seeding the players on how they play on grass courts, even though it may not be right, justs adds to the excitement that the tournament produces.
I think far too much fuss has been made over the non-seeding of clay-court specialists. They are not that highly ranked anyway and they simply wouldn't have got anywhere. It is unfair to accuse Wimbledon of bias. It only wants to maintain its exceptionally high standard of tennis and its position as tennis's premier tournament. A glimpse at the ladie's draw and you see no such controversy. In fact, seeding policy is justified when you consider that Conchita Martinez as no. 4 seed was beaten in round 2, even though she managed to win in 1994, and Mary Pierce as no 3 seed who didn't get much further. Besides the French Open used the old ATP rankings for its seedinds, not the Championship Race. Could Wimbledon justifiably have seeded Pete Sampras Down at no 10, and Gustavo Kuerten as top seed?
The number of seeded players who have suffered early defeats has nothing to do with the seeding system. This years draw has resulted in a lot of interesting match-ups in the early rounds, and I personally expected that half the seeded players would be out of the tournament after the second round. You have to remember that the top players are usually not playing their best untill late in the tounament, and when they face quality opponents in the early rounds, anything can happen.
Hewitt would not have lost to Gambill in the 5th round, but in the 1st round it's a pretty even match-up.
Julio Bruno, UK
I think that the seeding system doesn't work because it does not rank people properly. Plus it is a waste of time when the likes of Spadea, who had lost 21 games on the run, and then beat the no.11 seed Rusedski.
Wimbledon is a celebration of human achievement and excellence in the game of tennis. It is high nosed because any player will trade any number of victories elsewhere for glory on its centre court. The Spanish pull out does not mean anything, they could have proved their brilliance by winning the tournament. Who can forget the brilliance of McEnroe, the genius of Nastase, the power of Becker and the professionalism of Sampras. One would hope for the sake of the game that Spain produces a player as good as Becker who will win the tournament and show the way for his piqued colleagues.
Alex Corretja seems to have shot himself in the foot by boycotting Wimbledon. His section of the draw was bristling with fellow claycourt specialists and the first seed he could have encountered (in the fourth round) would have been Lapentti, a claycourt specialist ranked lower than Corretja! This contrasts with Henman's draw which could put him up against grass court experts Ivanisevic and Philippoussis before the quarter finals. Also, Albert Costa was unfortunate to be drawn to play Krajicek in the first round, but if Costa had been the seeded player and Krajicek the floater, they could still have found themselves playing each other at the same stage.
Does any one really believe that if Spain was lucky enough to have a major tournament that they would not favour there own players? Look back over history and you will see that the seedings speak for themselves. Let the players that want to abide with the rules get on with it and let the other whiners walk away to contemplate their loss. Wimbledon is the best tennis tournament in the world and will remain to be so if the All England Club continue with their great administration.
Corretja and Costa are complete amateurs when it comes to grass. They went home because they knew they would get whipped and didnt want to look stupid when they would of been stuffed by someone who understands what a volley is.
One of the main tasks of the All England Club is to contribute to the production of top English players on any surface, a task that so far it has failed to carried out despite having good resources. Yet again, outdated rules, culture, management stuffiness, old-fashioned style, and plain favouritism continue to undermine the future of English sport.
Personally, I disagree with the whole concept of seeding. It seems unfair to me that those players who are considered to have a greater chance of winning are given an easier draw. Surely the easiest way to remove all such arguments in the future is to have a totally open draw where Sampras could potentially play Agassi in the first round.
The Wimbledon seeding commitee have got themselves in a pickle. There is no way that Henman deserves his eighth-seed placing especially since he has lost two out of two games on grass this season. The seedings do seem a little biased towards Wimbledon 'favourites'.
For years, Wimbledon has overseeded players who cannot deliver on grass. They should be applauded for beginning to change that, arguably, they haven't gone far enough. If poor grass court players are seeded, it has the effect of putting potential winners of the tournament up against each other too early, thus reducing the overall quality of the tournament. If the Spaniards have been so hard done by, why are they unwilling to stay and prove the seeding committee wrong? I imagine it's because in their hearts they know that their performance in the tourrnament would be unlikely to justify their seeding.
The seeding system at Wimbledon should be implemented at other Grand Slam events as well. It is only common sense to seed the 16 best players on that particular surface.
The players with the best chance of winning should be the ones that are seeded. Costa and Corretja don't have a chance; this is not my opinion it's a fact. They have been on tour long enough and haven't even crossed the early rounds at Wimbledon while players such as Henman have consistently reached the quarters or higher. He definately deserves a higher seed. It would be stupid to have players who are clueless on grass get a high seed as per their rankings and have them bundled out by the third round. People who accuse the club of snobbery and favouritism are probably clueless themselves
There is far too much made of this seeding nonsense. In order to win any tournament you have to beat whoever is put in front of you. Take this scenario; you are unseeded and `unluckily' meet a seed early in the tournament, catch them cold and knock them out. You automatically take their position in the draw, therefore avoiding other seeds until the later rounds. Remember, in order to win the tournament you would probably have had to beat them anyway!.The cream always rises to the top!
It seems very one-sided to not seed the Spanish players. I for one no longer feel that Wimbledon is a prestigious tournament and think those responsible for the seedings should be investigated.
Wimbledon has the right to rank the players as they see fit. Grass is so different from any other surface, so top players ranked highly may not come out with high seedings. This really shouldnt bother professional players; surely they are there for the love of the sport? I think that the Spanish players should have entered and played - why be so childish?
I agree with the seeding system at Wimbledon. I think it is naive of certain players to criticise the way the All England club has selected it's seeds. If a player is a grass court specialist they should be given credit at grass court events. The tournament would be meaningless if the world's top sixteen players were given seeds automatically even if there were better grass court players on the circuit but out of the world Top 16. Even if players feel hard done by they should respect the clubs decision to avoid the kind of adverse publicity this sequence of events has brought to this year's Wimbledon. Finally, the players within the world Top 16 now have the chance to prove that the club were wrong when they face seeds like Pat Rafter.
The seeding should take world rankings into consideration. Using the grass court logic, if Becker decided to return to tennis then maybe the commitee would seed him. Some weightage has to be given to ATP rankings. Borg was a clay-courter but won five titles. This seems to be a ploy to get the marquee names get some easy rounds early on despite what others achieve over the year.
Yes, they are fixed. How can you justify a seeding which is based on grass, when there is no other major grasscourt championship? There will come a day when there will be more boycotts and it will be well deserved. Sampras said he wouldn't have minded if he was unseeded at French Open but I am sure he would have been the first to boycot it. When you are forced to play all Grand Slams to collect ATP points, I don't understand that those points are not taken into account. The day will not be far when this tournament will fall down in stature
Choosing the seedings is in principle not a bad idea, but it´s inevitably subjective and open to the suspicion that the club will favour British players.The system needs to be objective and the only way to guarantee that is to follow the rankings, that´s what they´re for.
I think that the All England Club has got the seedings fairly correct. Why should players who are at their best standard on clay courts expect to be seeded in a tournament played on grass. A court which plays in almost the exact opposite way that a clay court plays? The seedings should be given to the players most likely to win the tournament, not those who happen to be the best 16 players in the world at the time. As for Albert Costa, if the world rankings were the major consideration for the seedings system, he wouldn't be seeded anyway, as he is ranked at 18. The losers will not be the All England Club, nor will it be the millions of tennis fans who will be watching the event. The only loser will be the player who is missing out on the chance to win the ultimate tennis crown.
I agree with the principle of adjusting the seedings so they do not exactly mirror the ATP rankings, particularly for Wimbledon since there are so few grass court events. However, it would help if the All England Club used an index which ranked players for their grass court results and was published before Wimbledon (or freely available all year round) so the process was more open.
The seedings system was not developed to be a mirror of the world rankings, it was intended to keep apart players who are most likely to succeed in that particular tournament. With far more ranking tournaments played on clay than grass, the rankings naturally favour clay specialists over grass specialists. All Wimbledon have done is to choose the best 16 grass court players - and that unfortunately does not include Alex Corretja.
Stuart Ainsworth, UK
It's OK to take into consideration the special features of different surfaces, but to give seedings for Henman and Rusedski is ridiculous considering their performance for the past months.
I think the players should just respect the decisions of the officials and after all, this is Wimbledon not just any other championships on the tour.
In my opinion, Alex Corretja and Albert Costa have pulled a very childish stunt. They should play Wimbledon for the love of the game irrespective of their seeded positions. This stunt has been counterproductive in my view and potrays both players as obsessed with prestige and outward praise rather than true sportsmanship.
Trinity , USA
Wimbledon should change its method of doing the seedings or else it is in danger of loosing the players' interest and gradually no one want ting to play there. Afterall it's not Wimbledon which makes great players but the great players that make Wimbledon what it is today.
The best way to prove the point is not for the players to refuse to play - that is just madness, it makes the ordinary man in the street really wonder about these pro sports men and women. Some of them don't know how lucky they are. I'd swap places with them any time.
Lynne Miles, UK
I think Wimbledon should adopt the FA Cup system. Once all the qualifiers have been selected organisers should make a draw out of a hat like the FA. The courts are then drawn as well (which should be done for every match). I think this would spice up the tournament.
I think Wimbledon should be seeded on current rankings. Players work hard for their rankings and that should be recognised, whatever the surface. I think it's dangerous when seedings are done subjectively. Just because some players have done well in the past on grass doesn't mean they should be rewarded with an easier draw. If they are that good they shouldn't worry about who they meet in the first round. This needs to be sorted out for next year otherwise we will be deprived of seeing many of the world's top players.
The seedings should identify the 16 players most likely to win the tournament, which the ATP 52 week rankings do not do.
Wimbledon are right to promote grass-courters over clay-courters, but doing it through a private committee gives the impression of arbitrarily favouring Brits and Aussies over Spaniards.
We need a more instructive and comprehensive ranking system.
Meanwhile, Corretja and Costa should get on with the game.
I do not think that Wimbledon has it wrong. Grass-court tennis is far different from other surfaces. As a result, a player with a world rank of one, two or six is not likely to do very well, unless he has the appropriate game for grass. The purpose behind seedings was to ensure that top grass-court players do not meet early on and reduce competitive interest in later stages. Missing out on a seeding just does not mean anything. All that a player has to do is to make sure that he wins enough matches to get a seeding the following year. Boris Becker won his first title as an unseeded player. All this seems to be a storm in a teacup.
Ian Stewart, Singapore
Considering the markedly disparate performances of players according to the kind of surface they play on, ATP should devise a ranking system that takes this factor into consideration. The Wimbledon organisers' seeding system is logical and right and cannot be accused of being "rigged".
The seedings at the All England Club are not entirely wrong, but do have flaws. It is correct to rank players on the basis of their grass-court performances, but then how could Gustavo Kuerten get such a high seeding, if neither of the three Spaniards was found fit for a place in the seedings. Current performance should be more decisive than the performance of some player in the championship last year or the years before.
It is ridiculous to change the seedings. The players have fought hard to get where they are under a fair ranking system that everyone abides with. The English just want to do something to make them feel superior. They are still living in their dreams. There should be another boycott by the ATP players or ATP itself.
Hingis and Davenport are seeded at Wimbledon in accordance with their world ranking, despite the fact that Davenport is the defending champion and more than equal with Hingis. Why was the same system not applied to the men's draw?
Wimbledon should pay more attention to the world seedings. The seedings should either reflect the tour standings or else the players should not be penalised for not playing Wimbledon. It has a great history, but really should abide by the rules of the system to be fair.
The ATP Entry System is a true reflection on how the players have fared for a 52 week period.
The seeding system is fine, you obviously have to go with the players who perform better on grass. Someone like Rusedski is always going to perform better on grass, due to the nature of his game.
They wouldn't want the risk of bad publicity to pull a rigging shot.
But they should be prepared and able to justify any query and allow their methods to be open to scrutiny.
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