Wimbledon Doubles

Wimbledon logo
In a break with tradition, there will be 32 seeded players — instead of 16 — at this year's Wimbledon tennis championships.

The move was announced Monday by The All England Club in a bid to assuage clay-court experts who claim Wimbledon's seeding policy discriminates against them in favor of grass-court specialists.

The new formula will be adopted by all four Grand Slam tournaments — Wimbledon and the U.S., Australian and French Opens.

Under the new system, the 32 seeds will be the top 32 players on the ATP Entry System rankings and the WTA Tour rankings. But the order of the seeds will be arranged on a surface-based system.

Brazil's Gustavo Kuerten, who won his third French Open title Sunday, already has said he will not be playing at Wimbledon, which begins June 25.

Kuerten said he wants to rest a sore groin, but he previously had complained about the tournament's seeding system, and his career record there is only 6-4.

But other clay-court experts, including French Open runner-up Alex Corretja and Spanish compatriot Juan Carlos Ferrero, have said they would wait to see what Wimbledon decided.

Wimbledon had been the only one of the four Grand Slam tournaments which had not adhered strictly to the ATP world rankings in its seedings.

The All England Club has seeded players based on their grass-court record and potential, often relegating clay-courters below their world rankings or out of the 16 seeds altogether.

The new system should ensure that the top clay-courters are seeded — and thus cannot face a top grass-courter — in the early rounds.

"Nobody currently ranked in the top 32 on the entry list will be dropped from the seeding to make way for a grass court specialist, who may be ranked outside the top 32," the Wimbledon statement said.

Wimbledon took the first step to appeasing the clay-court critics when it disbanded its men's seedings committee last month and promised to announce a new seeding policy by the end of the French Open.

Wimbledon said the order of the 32 men's seeds would be arranged using an "objective system," originally suggested by the ATP, to reflect a player's grass-court achievements. That means Pete Sampras, who has won Wimbledon seven times, will be seeded higher than his current ranking of No. 5.

For women, the order of the 32 seeded women will be determined by the Wimbledon seeding committee as in previous years. A surface-based system for women will be adopted starting next year.

All England Club chairman Tim Phillips said Wimbledon had consulted with the ATP, WTA and Grand Slam officials to reach a "sensible solution to this important issue."

"We have stayed true to our beliefs that seeding at Wimbledon should take into account players' grass-court credentials and at the same time have addressed players' concerns by accepting that the Wimbledon seeds will be the top 32 in the entry system of each playeassociation," he said.

The seeding process for Wimbledon will take into account points achieved in grass-court events going back to 1997-98.

©MMI The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed