Murray to be spared nightmare Wimbledon draw despite low ranking

Wimbledon first round losers set to be financial winners

Britain’s Andy Murray returns a shot against Italy’s Andreas Seppi during their Davis Cup quarter-final tennis match in Naples April 5, 2014. (REUTERS: Alessandro Bianchi)

Britain’s Andy Murray returns a shot against Italy’s Andreas Seppi during their Davis Cup quarter-final tennis match in Naples April 5, 2014. (REUTERS: Alessandro Bianchi)

LONDON — Wimbledon champion Andy Murray should be spared a horror draw at this year’s tournament despite his recent rankings slide, organizers said on Tuesday.

Murray, who became the first British man to win the men’s singles at the grasscourt grand slam for 77 years last July when he beat Novak Djokovic in the final, has sunk to eighth in the ATP rankings which at most tournaments determine seedings.

However, Wimbledon’s seeding system, which takes into account past performances on the grass surface, means it is unlikely Murray would find himself outside the top four seeds even if his world ranking does not improve.

Seedings at Wimbledon are generally based on ATP rankings but the fact that Murray was unbeaten on grass last year and reached the Wimbledon final in 2012 as well will count in his favor, according to All England Club chairman Philip Brook.

“For Andy Murray, as the winner of Queen’s last year and the winner here last year, and a finalist here in 2012, there will be a significant impact on him,” he told a news conference.

Murray’s ranking has slipped from a career-high two down to eight, largely because of back surgery at the end of last year.

Although he has fully recovered, his form has been inconsistent and he was well beaten by Roger Federer at the Australian Open.

The 26-year-old Scot is due to play in next week’s Madrid Masters as he gears up for the French Open which he missed last year due to injury.

Wimbledon first round losers set to be financial winners

First-round singles losers at this year’s Wimbledon championships will receive 27,000 pounds ($45,400) prize money as organizers continue to help the sport’s lesser lights make ends meet.

Outlining how the grasscourt grand slam’s increased 25 million pounds prize pot will be distributed, the All England Club announced a 14.9 percent raise for first-round losers in the main draw of the men’s and women’s singles.

At the top end this year’s singles champions will bank 1.76 million pounds ($2.9 million), a 10 percent increase on the 1.6 million pounds Andy Murray and Marion Bartoli earned last year.

That compares favorably with the 1.65 million euros ($2.3 million) for the singles champions at next month’s French Open while Stanislas Wawrinka and Li Na earned $2.65 million for their wins at the Australian Open in January.

All England Club chief executive Richard Lewis justified the increased level of prize money for early-round losers on Tuesday at the annual news conference ahead of the Championships.

“I slightly take issue with that,” Lewis told reporters when questioned whether the prize money on offer for first-round losers was appropriate.

“They have worked hard to get here for 12 months either through their world ranking or through qualifying. By being in a main draw of a grand slam means they are world class players.

“The costs and expenses involved in being a top-100 player are huge and while they are not pleading poverty they are not making huge sums of money either for world class athletes.”

Since 2011 Wimbledon’s annual prize money increases have been heavily weighted towards the losers in the earlier rounds - a move designed to placate lower-ranked players who struggle to balance the books compared to those in the top 10.

This year’s increase means first-round prize money has risen by a massive 135 percent in three years, compared to a 60 percent increase for the champions.

“We’ve placed emphasis on the large group of players who need our help the most, those players who lose in qualifying and in the early rounds of the championships,” Wimbledon chairman Philip Brook said.

“We also had an eye to being competitive internationally, and we do keep our watch on what is going on in other tennis events and in particular the other grand slams.”