Federer, Djokovic Weigh In On Seeding Of 32 Players At Grand Slams
by Tom Gainey | May 30th, 2013, 5:05 pm

A topic of some interest during this first week at the French Open has been the seeding of 32 players in Grand Slam play. First instituted at the 2001 Wimbledon tournament to appease the Spanish players who felt they were getting bumped from the 1-16 seedings, the increase has been a little mixed among the very best in the world.

Roger Federer says he doesn’t mind if they went back to the old 16 seeded system. Novak Djokovic, who never played a Grand Slam with less than 32 seeds, thinks it’s fair the way it is.

The more seeds the better chance the top stars get through the first week – just as the Big Three have been doing much of the last seven years or so. And that in turn also helps to increase the TV ratings which helps lift prize money.

The downside, as we have seen this week, is the lack of interesting matches among the stars during the first week of Slams when no seeded player will play another player ranked in the Top 32 for the first two rounds.

Commented Djokovic today: “Well, there’s 128 players in the draw, so I guess the 32 seeds is still fair, in my opinion, because, you know, you’re at least in the opening rounds avoiding to play somebody that’s top 30 in the world. And I think it also protects those players who are maybe between 15 and 30, you know, to avoid top players in opening rounds. So, I mean, depends from what perspective you’re really looking at it. I think that’s a fair system now.”

Said Federer yesterday in response to his countryman Marc Rosset’s comments that 32 seeds was a detriment to the game: “It’s like the dilemma we have a little bit in the Masters 1000; that I feel too many top 8 having a bye is maybe a little bit too much, maybe it should only be the top 4. But then again, it allows more of the top guys to play more of the Masters 1000. That’s the big argument there.

“In the slams I came through both systems, you know, where we had 16 seeds back in the day,” added Federer. “It’s true, you know, you do have much tougher draws early on, you know, but I guess, you know, separating the best a little bit is good for spectators, fans, media maybe as well to a degree. Also the players because hard work throughout the season gets compensated and gets paid off in a little in a small way. But it can be a big way, too. Now, does it make a huge difference? I’m not sure. But I understand what he’s saying. He’s not wrong about it, that’s for sure.”

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58 Comments for Federer, Djokovic Weigh In On Seeding Of 32 Players At Grand Slams

Robert Says:

While the big shift of media attention is focused on Djokovic and Federer;

Nadal has gone offally quiet about his business..

skeezer Says:

i see both sides, its cool

interesting that Fed played in the era where a top seed could run into a top 20 – 30 player in the first-second rds. not any more.


mike Says:

nadal is being silent for some reason. but the media should investigate about that.

skeezer Says:

omg Rafa not in the limelight for a day during Clay season? Is the world ending?
He can’t hide, everyone knows on the planet Rafa is in the big limelight and the shoo in for FO.

Robert Says:

Its usually Federer who often goes quiet at Roland Garros,

Its nice to see Rafa in that shoe, which is really a good thing, would work to his advantage is what am trying to say..

Humble Rafa Says:

Some people are preparing for 3rd round match like they are preparing for a Grandslam final. Funny people around here.

Not liking all this rain.

Kimberly Says:

I personally think it would give more parity to the game if the matches were tough from the get go like they are in masters, and maybe allow for different GS winners? But in a way, it would detriment the #17 guy who would have to potentially play Djokovic in the opener. So I see both sides.

contador Says:

I’m with Federer on this one – tennis is more interesting imo, when the top seeds are not insulated or overly protected. Also, it gives hope to those aspiring to climb the ranks. The way it is, the luck of a draw is minimized. I do not prefer to see the same two players play each other in the last week of a grand slam;(guessing I am in a minority opinion on the subject, however).

Ben Pronin Says:

32 seeds protects the lower seeds and the higher seeds. Juan Monaco, currently the 17th ranked player, doesn’t exactly have a lot of success against the top guys.

Robert Says:

I like the current seeding as it is, the top players should always be protected more because they have worked hard to get those position;

For example;

No 1 player should meet;

*32nd seed n the 3rd round
*16th seed in the 4th round
*8th seed in the Quarters
*4th seed in the Semis
*2nd seed n the Final

contador Says:

I was not thinking of protecting Pico. Pico is good but I doubt he will climb higher than he already has been in ranking. Thinking of those lower ranked. It would give them a shot at more ranking points and possibly upsetting the top seeds if there were less top seeds to go through, meaning top seeds met each other in the first week sometimes, that is if draws were draws and not pre-set to such a large extent. I like more randomness and upsets. Again, I realize that my opinion is not a majority one. I get tired of the same old match-ups in the second week. Going back to a seeding of sixteen would help give someone a better chance and perhaps the break they need to get motivated and for their career to take off.

contador Says:

should have been – “younger and lower ranked”

roy Says:

the game has far more depth now than it did pre 2000 and that’s why it’s more necessary to have 32 now.
and it’s true it is the 16-32 seeds who will suffer more from a 16seeds system because few of them can beat top 5ers anyway. so early exits for them.

in a way it is annoying seeing easy matches for top guys but this is largely to do with how good the top 4 are now. there are plenty of close matches outside of these players in the first few rounds.
the real problem is COVERAGE. they will show a garbage one-sided big4 match over a first round thriller between a seed and a quality top50 etc on court 3.

in any case quality matches early on isn’t a problem on the men’s tour in comparison to the female game.

Polo Says:

Who cares? When Federer leaves in a year or two, not that many people will be interested in watching anymore anyway.

Ben Pronin Says:

Contador, I keep reading you saying “protect top players” and it’s hilarious to me. Federer hasn’t lost before the quarterfinals since 2004. You think if he faced higher ranked opponents it would’ve mattered? He faced Djokovic in the fourth round once, still won.

I think it’d be way worse for young guys. They’d just lose to the top players sooner, and then we’d get scrub matches in the middle of the event, before getting the main show we always do. Has Nadal been stunned by a 16-32 seed? No. The few players who got him have been ranked so high I don’t even remember.

skeezer Says:

^roy, u reading?

contador Says:

Huh? I am not saying protect top players. Having top seeds meet each other earlier would at least eliminate one of them! I am not trying to protect Federer or Djokovic – just want to see that match-up earlier in the tournament. Get those Fedals and Rafole’s over in the first week and let some other guys go deep. It is not conventional wisdom, by a long shot. It’s just me tired of same old outcomes.

contador Says:

Some of those “scrub” match-ups are probably the ones I enjoy – like Gulbis vs. Monfils. :D

skeezer Says:

When Fed played the 16 seed format, he could have, and did face players seeded 20-30 in the very first few matches. Later, when Rafa came on board, the rules changed. And Yahoo, now we have the young top players like Rafa playing qualifiers for a few rds before he even sees a top 100 player, then more than likely, he will see a 32 or 20. That is fun to watch? Its a pitiful setup. IMO top players should get a bye, or an easy matchup early on, as they have earned it. But c’mon!

Anyways, it just shows that It didn’t matter with Fed what the seeding rules were. He got 17 regardless.
And anti Fed fans talk of “weak era”. Based on the comparable seeding eras his early years were way more potentially dangerous by todays standards.
We are in the weak era of seeding.


Michael Says:

16 or 32 – Which is better ? One can never tell. It all depends on the way you look at it. Seeding is all about to protect the top players from early tough matches. My perception is 16 is better than 32 because seeding should have some value and it must given only to good performers.

SG1 Says:

I understand the complaint that the first few matches are usually a turkey shoot for the top players. But, look at this FO this year. Nadal loses a couple of sets early. There are no guarantees. You still have to show up and play.

In the 80′s, Lendl ruled the roost at the USO and at the FO. At that time there were only 16 seeds and Lendl completely destroyed many of his early round opponents.

My opinion is that things should be set up to provide the greatest probability that the best four players are left at the end. For the past several years, more often than not, this has been the case and it has resulted in some very compelling semi-finals and finals. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the 32 seed system just on this basis.

the DA Says:

“When Federer leaves in a year or two, not that many people will be interested in watching anymore anyway.”

Ah, another cherished myth. Everyone said the same about Borg, McEnroe, et al. True tennis lovers will stick around – always have done.

jane Says:

^ Agree!

Tennis x hippy chic Says:

Although his tennis will be missed no doubt about that,however life goes on and so does tennis,no player is ever bigger than the sport itself.

SG1 Says:

Federer will take some fans with him to be sure. But, I agree. The real tennis fans won’t abandon tennis. Federer is arguably the best player ever but I don’t think he has the hold on tennis the way Michael Jordan did with basketball. To this day, the NBA has been struggling with an identity crisis. Tennis, being an individual sport will always have enough compelling characters and rivalries to keep tennis fans interested.

Tennis x hippy chic Says:

SG1 its to be hoped so,i think this forum would shut down otherwise:(.

Ben Pronin Says:

Contador, how can Federer and Djokovic and Nadal ever meet before the semis or finals if they’re seeded as the top 3-4 players? Those match ups would still only occur in those rounds regardless of 16 or 32 seeds. So I have no idea what you’re saying.

Skeezer, stop trying to spin this as a Federer is better than Nadal thing or whatever. The rules changed in 2001, a whole 2 years before Federer won his first slam. So he’s in the same boat as Nadal in terms of which seeds he went through to win his slams. The rules didn’t change “when Rafa came on board.” And why are you even mentioning Nadal playing qualifiers in his early rounds when Federer is the one who played 2 qualifiers in his opening matches where as Nadal has faced off against two guys well inside the top 100? Pot calling the non-existent-kettle black.

SG1, NBA has a trouble with its identity because David Stern is a nincompoop.

SG1 Says:

Nincompoop or not, the cast of NBA characters out there today simply aren’t as interesting as Magic, Bird and Michael all of whom helped the game flourish. Stern was around at that time too. LeBron and Kobe just aren’t as engaging. And they’re so rich, they can’t relate to their fans or even the media.

SG1 Says:

Fortunately for tennis, Djok, Rafa, Fed and Murray are all interesting and engaging personalities. And they “play well” with others which makes the easy to like.

Ben Pronin Says:

I don’t know, SG, sounds like personal preference. For one, the culture is different in the NBA and in tennis. Tennis players travel the world and some become ambassadors for UNICEF. NBA players stay in the states. I know Lebron and Durant and some of these others guys do charity work but it’s not broadcast as much. Also, how different is Kobe from Jordan? They’re both a**holes. Kobe is maybe more stand-offish than Jordan was, but they’re not that dissimilar.

But the way players are reported on is very different, too. The media controls our perceptions a lot. Look at tennis analysts and writers, Steve Tignor, Pat McEnroe, Jon Wertheim, Drysdale, etc, all they do is talk up everyone. Oh Federer is so nice, Nadal is so humble, so on and so forth. Whenever you turn on ESPN all you see is “Kobe said he’s upset that Howard played bad, BLOOD BATH IN LAKERS LOCKER ROOM TONIGHT!”

Also, former basketball greats hate current superstars. Magic and Barkley hate Lebron. Jordan says Lebron and Kobe aren’t that good. And so on. And so we get it from these guys that we shouldn’t like them. Whereas Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Sampras, Agassi, Lendl, and all of these guys just heap tons and tons of praise on the current crop of top players. And Sampras is supposed to be upset about his records being broken but you always hear him giving a lot of credit to the current stars.

So, really, we don’t know how interesting and engaging these guys really are, we mainly only get their depictions from the media.

Alex Says:

Ben Agree with you 100 percent, what really stuck out was how you said Sampras should of been upset, shows you what a nice guy he actually is. Lots of tennis players in Sampras’s shoes would of trash talked galore. Most are nice. Tennis is a gentlemens sport and should remain as such, players like Janowicz can take a hike IMO. I don’t want players to treat each other like savages..for what? Fox news highlights…cmon! I call NO!

skeezer Says:


You’re talking this tournament only. Look at past draws regarding lowly ranked players and Qualies. No spin, just facts.

van orten Says:

Weak ERA fed???? AS far AS i am concerned There was best of five Finals Art Masters 1000 all through that weak ERA ..and now players are tired after best of 3..what a Lamé progress… Weak era my ….

SG1 Says:


I’ll give you an example of the fundamental difference between basketball 30 years ago and now. In the 80′s, the Lakers were known as “Show Time”. Not Magic himself, the Lakers as a whole.

Now, when a player changes teams, he gets his own 2 hours in prime time just to jerk around the fan base that loved him. You want to know why past stars hat the present ones, look no further.

Is David Stern at fault for this? Maybe, maybe not. Who really gives a damn (or wants to give a damn) about players like LeBron and Kobe. They spend their time trying to figure how to inflate their own value.

Now, you’re right about tennis players. The players of the past are generally respectful of the present day players and vice versa. Of course tennis is more of gentleman’s game. The true greats are known to be great sportsman (Laver, Borg, Sampras, Federer, Nadal etc.). You don’t enhance your legacy in the minds of tennis fans bt trampling other greats. We as tennis fans won’t accept it.

SG1 Says:

And I don’t ever remember Kareem ripping Magic in the media or vice versa. Same with Bird and his teammates. They kept it in the room. Players today don’t give a flying fandooty about anything other than how fast they can pop out something amusing on Twitter.

Ben Pronin Says:

I just don’t know if it’s entirely the players’ fault so much as it is the media. Even the Decision. You think Lebron was like “hey guys! great idea! why don’t I televise my decision over 2 hours on prime time?” No way. ESPN probably pushed him to hell’s end to do it. And then they rip him for it!

And is it really the players fault for lambasting their problems on the mic? Or is it the journalists who never stop digging until they get a good quote? We think it’s weird that women get on-court coaching. Don’t you think it’s weird that coaches are interviewed between quarters? I do. Like “hey, you’re team is losing, TELL US YOUR STRATEGY TO TURN THINGS AROUND.” I mean cmon, it’s ridiculous.

Maybe you don’t care about Lebron and Kobe because of their public personas, but my friend met Lebron and several Heat players and says that they’re great guys. So like I said, we really have no idea what they’re like.

Polo Says:

Tennis in the USA will stagnate even further without Federer, especially in the absence of any good and exciting male American tennis players. As it is now, TV coverage continues to be relegated to cable stations like Tennis Channel with not everybody subscribes to and occasionally, ESPN. The regular stations (and ESPN)show abysmal coverage because they don’t care. Tennis is a dying spectator sport in the USA.

Ben Pronin Says:

True, and Federer is the most popular tennis player in America. Tennis in America is as good as dead.

mat4 Says:

I’m back.

Read big chunks of the comments, and, as usual, I don’t agree completely, although a lot of good points have been made.

About American tennis: the problem coud be the philosophy of quick results. When you watch top American players, you notice immediately that their game is focused on a big serve and a big FH. Just look at Roddick, Blake, Harrison, Sock. A notable exception could be Fish.

It’s something recent, I guess, because in the ’80 and ’90, American players were quite different one from the other. What are the causes for such a change? I can only guess. Less tournaments on clay? A wrong understanding of Bollettieri’s methods? Or is it the easy way for good results, causing a wrong selection of talents?

It is a very interesting topic, and I hope to read different views about it.

About the number of seeds: with such dominant top players, I think it is irrelevant.

That leads me to the question of progress and professionalism in tennis: I am under the impression that we never had so many complete players at the top, and the level of professionalism is higher than ever.

Perhaps Agassi started it, but I see Federer as the main motivational factor with his complete dominance a few years ago: we see that the top players are all perfectly physically prepared, that their games are complete, with almost no weaknesses. They can adapt easily to any surface, any rebound, any condition.

And, as a footnote, I believe that the trio Federer, Nadal, Djokovic have deeply changed the game in the last half decade.

But we can debate about it. I hope, at least.

Danny Morris Says:

God bless Serena. She does the US real proud. US is bad, but definitely has the best results of the traditonal tennis nations – Australia, France, UK and US, in the last 20 years.

I doubt tennis is even in the 10 sports in the US.

Wog boy Says:

There is one thing I have to agree about Federer with Federer fans. He is hugely popular, regardless where he plays, like no other tennis player. You will find that home crowd cheers for him instead for home player, like yesterday when I had a feeling that good chunk of the crowd was going for Roger and not Frenchman. It looks that people just don’t feel comfortable to cheer against Roger, he commands such respect.


Good to see you back, no predictions, please ..

contador Says:

Such dire prophets of tennis doom!

contador Says:

I was going to try and express myself about 16 or less seeds being better than 32. But forgot my train of thought completely…lol

Wog boy Says:


They do that after every big name is about to retire, but it is not going to happen. It is in humam nature to do so, methinks.

When ever we break up with love of our lives we think there is not going to be new woman (man) in our life, after big friendship is broken we think there is not going to be friendship like that and so on, just to find out that new woman (man) or new friend is waiting around the corner. All that we have to do is to walk around that particular corner instead of sitting and pittying ourselves;)
I am a bit philosophical this morning, better if I do some real things, like cutting the grass..

Ben Pronin Says:

Are you guys in the US? Seriously, tennis barely exists here. Best example of that is how we get a whopping 3 hours of tape delayed coverage on a Saturday during a major!

Wog boy Says:


Is that because of Federer is going to retire or because US doesn’t have any players to cheer for, I mean world top players..
It is not so bad here in Aussieland and we didn’t have top players for years now, but tennis was never and will never be mainstream sport, that is nature of tennis.

jane Says:

Wog boy, nothing wrong with being philosophical. The grass just grows back anyhow. ;) Just like new players/friends/lovers are around the corner.

Wog boy Says:


Thanks :)

Ben Pronin Says:

I don’t know what it is. I’m always too pissed about the lack of coverage to think about why it’s like that.

contador Says:

Wog boy. You are very right and wise. But who is about to retire? I am laughing,Wb. I think you mean Federer, but who knows when he will retire for sure?

SG1 Says:


I know what you’re saying. But none of us really gets to know athletes. We can only really evaluate the kind of people they are by their actions.

There were people on the PGA tour that liked Tiger before the whole scandal hit. A fellow tour pro actually introduced him to Elin Nordegren. Then, through actions, you see that Tiger cared more about himself than his kids or his wife. You wanna’ play the field, don’t get married (like Derek Jeter). Woods’ image was conjured up buy his management team to generate revenue…plain and simple. Market the guy as the person you know other people want him to be. Tiger could have stopped it…but why? It’s getting damned rich.

Then there’s Lance Armstrong. From the moment Greg LeMond said he was dirty, I knew he was. Here’s a guy who exploited his own illness to build his image. And even worse, he pumped stuff into his body that probably causes cancer all in the name of winning.

If there is one thing I’ve come to believe, it’s that athletes are not role models. If you happen to be a great athlete and a great person, it’s a coincidence and nothing more.

I love watching the pros play tennis. Make no mistake however. There will be a time when a tennis hero will come crashing to earth. And it will be ugly. But don’t blame the crash on the press. Don’t blame it on the money. Blame it on the person making the choices. The buck stops with the athlete. These people do for a living what each and everyone of us wishes we could do. Many athletes just take it all for granted. It’s why so many end up broke 5 or 6 years after they retire.

Wog boy Says:

If that makes you feel better,the coverage here is not better. It is only on cable networks, FOX Sports. Wimbledon, USO and AO are on commercial channels but not FO. On the other hand Cricket, Rugby League, Aussie Rules, Soccer … you can watch on commercia (free) channels. TV are interesting in the ratings and apart of AO, Wimbledon and USO, later stages, they don’t have interest to do it, money.. money..money, that is all that matters to them.

Wog boy Says:

^^^ This was for Ben.

Ben Pronin Says:

“If there is one thing I’ve come to believe, it’s that athletes are not role models. If you happen to be a great athlete and a great person, it’s a coincidence and nothing more.”

Couldn’t agree more. The reality is pro athletes are just regular people with different talents from the rest of us. There are crappy people everywhere. I couldn’t care less how selfish Tiger or Kobe or Lance or whoever else is, as long as they put on the great show that they do. They’re meant to be looked up to based on their athletic skills, we’re not supposed to be copying their personal lives. But I still blame the media for this, for always prying. Babe Ruth was an alcoholic womanizer during prohibition. Great athlete, not a role model.

contador Says:

There is a lack of coverage in the US. But I don’t think it is worse or going downhill. However, one does need a plan B if ESPN and TennisChannel fail. I guess I am used to that and go right to live-streaming Eurosport as a default mode.

If Tennis Channel covered tennis like the Golf Channel covers golf, there would be nothing to complain about. How to make tennis more popular? I don’t know. I live in the wrong country for tennis and cycling – both sports are covered better and have more of a following in Australia and Europe.

Tennis x hippy chic Says:

Agree with Ben and SG1,i believe its ok to admire and respect sportstars tennis players or otherwise,but to use them as role models is rather sad IMO,personally speaking i have little interest in what sportstars do when they are not playing sports,as lets face it their lives and our lives are poles apart,i think if you need a role model you should look to your parents,i always did they were the only role models that i ever needed.

skeezer Says:

Great athlete, not a role model.

Err…Great athlete? No way. Great baseball player though.

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