Wimbledon does not start until next Monday but an initial outline of the event came Wednesday with the announcement of this year's seeded players in singles and doubles.
Everything is straight-forward - right off the ATP and WTA Tour rankings - in the seedings for the women's singles and both doubles events, but the Wimbledon committee of management makes an adjustment with the men's singles seedings. That is done to try to bring the seedings into a more realistic alignment with the ability of the top players on grass.
Here is how Wimbledon explains its formula for the men's seedings. Note: Wimbledon uses the out-dated terminology "Entry System Position," which should actually simply be the "Rankings."
The seeds are the top 32 players on the ATP Entry System Position (ESP), BUT then rearranged on a surface-based system. Since 2002, following an agreement made with the ATP, the Gentlemen's Singles seeding order is determined using an objective and transparent system to reflect more accurately an individual player's grass court achievements: The formula is:
Take ESP points at 14 June 2010, add 100 per cent of points earned for all grass court tournaments in the past 12 months, then add 75 per cent of points earned for best grass court tournament in the 12 months before that.
So, here is why Roger Federer, No. 2 in the rankings, is seeded No. 1, while the top-ranked Rafael Nadal is seeded second.
Federer currently has 8,525 ranking points but gets to add 2,150 points in grass court results from the past 12 months (2000 for winning Wimbledon '09 and 150 for being runner-up to Lleyton Hewitt in Halle, Germany, on Sunday). He also adds 75% of the 1,200 (900 points) points he received for being Wimbledon runner-up to Nadal in '08.
Nadal, who has 8,745 ranking points, gets to add 45 points for reaching the quarter-finals of Queen's Club in London last week and 75% of the 2,000 (1,500 points) he received for winning Wimbledon in '08. He did not play any grass court events in 2009 because of knee problems.
So Federer's adjusted points total by the Wimbledon system is 11,575, and Nadal's is 10,290.
The player who most benefited in the Wimbledon seedings is Hewitt. He is ranked No. 26 but jumped up to the No. 15 seed largely on the basis of his win in Halle on Sunday and his quarter-final finish at Wimbledon last year. The Australian, now 29 and coming off hip and knee surgeries since the beginning of the year, was Wimbledon champion in 2002.
The men's field is in an odd state of flux below Federer and Nadal because No. 3 seed Novak Djokovic and No. 4 Andy Murray have been playing poorly of late. Even No. 5 Andy Roddick, last year's Wimbledon finalist (16-14 in the fifth set to Federer) went out in the second round of Queen's Club last week and No. 6 Robin Soderling enters Wimbledon without a grass-court event in 2010.
Seeds No. 7, Nikolay Davydenko, returning after a wrist surgery that kept him out of action for almost three months, and No. 8, Fernando Verdasco, with a consistent but unremarkable record on grass, are not viewed as real title threats.
The women's seeding is headed by the players who have accounted for eight of the last 10 Wimbledon titles - No. 1 seed Serena (3) and No. 2 Venus (5) Williams.
Based on recent form, seeds No. 3 and No. 4, Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic, are probably not as legitimate contenders as players such as No. 6 Samantha Stosur, No. 8 Kim Clijsters, No. 16 Maria Sharapova and No. 17 Justine Henin.
In an example of what a difference a year makes, in 2009, Aleksandra Wozniak of Blainville, Que., was the 23rd seed and lost to un-seeded Francesca Schiavone of Italy 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the first round. This year, the No. 48-ranked Wozniak is un-seeded while Schiavone, recent surprise winner of the French Open, is No. 5.
The women's doubles top seeds are Serena and Venus Williams, while Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic are No. 1 in the men's event. Both pairs are two-time defending champions at Wimbledon.