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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