The Wimbledon Championships for 2020 were sadly cancelled on April 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but there are still plenty of things happening around SW19.
Alongside news of the prize money distribution for 2020, the All England Lawn Tennis Club also announced they were scrapping the grass seeding formula for the Gentleman's Singles in 2021.
The statement reads as follows:
Since last year’s Championships, we have also taken the time to give consideration to the evolution of the sport and the mechanisms of allocating seeding for The Championships. Given the quality of competition, entertainment and modern grass courts, following detailed discussion with the player groups, the AELTC has decided that the grass court seeding formula used since 2002 has served its time, and from The Championships 2021 seeding for the Gentlemen’s singles draw will be based solely on ranking. There will be no change to the method of seeding for the Ladies’ singles draw. The AELTC Announcement
The Wimbledon Seeding Formula Explained
Since 2002, Wimbledon has calculated the 32 seeds using the following formula:
ATP Entry System Position points + 100% points earned for all grass court tournaments in the past 12 months + 75% points earned for the best grass-court tournament in the 12 months before that.
The ‘bonus' points were added to the regular ATP points from other tournaments to arrive at a revised total point tally. Before that, the tournament used a seeding committee.
So Why The Change for 2021?
The seeding formula first came to use due to the differences between clay and grass. With players historically falling into the category of ‘surface specialist', having a different rule for grass (either by committee or a formula) was clearly a sensible move.
For example, in 1996, Thomas Muster would have the #1 seed at Wimbledon given his form on clay. Yet in his previous four Wimbledon's he had not been able to get out of the first round.
However, given an increasing homogenisation of the surfaces and a change of playing style due to strings, the execs at Wimbledon have decided that the formula is no longer required.
Is it the right move? There's long been the argument that Wimbledon should respect the standard rankings as players have earned the right to be seeded according to their performances on all surfaces during the year.
However, I quite like the uniqueness of a seeding formula for grass, but overall I don't think it matters a whole lot. All the change does is remove a talking point that divided opinion, and we know that having the wrong opinion on anything in 2021 isn't very desirable.
But were any serious contenders ever left out if you seed 32? Not really, in a worst-case scenario, they were a couple of spots out from where they'd have sat without any seeding adjustment.
What do you guys think? Does this move make a difference? Should they have kept it?