LONDON (Reuters) - Former Wimbledon champion Rafa Nadal could be heading for a clash with one of his Big Four rivals as early as the fourth round after the Spaniard was seeded 10th for the grasscourt championships on Wednesday.
Nadal’s indifferent form this season means he has dropped to 10th in the world, his lowest ranking in over a decade, which means he could run into holder Novak Djokovic, second seed Roger Federer or number three Andy Murray in the last 16.
Grass court performances over the past two years carry extra weight in the men’s Wimbledon seedings but Nadal, champion in 2008 and 2010, has failed to benefit as in 2013 he lost in the first round while last year he fell in the fourth.
After two indifferent seasons on grass, when Nadal failed to win a match at any Wimbledon warm-up event, the 14-times grand slam champion seems to have found his feet again on the lush green surface after winning this month’s Stuttgart title.
While the Spaniard lurks as dangerous foe, the other main contenders are in form with Murray claiming his fourth Queen’s Club title on Sunday while Federer will hope to follow up his eighth Halle title by winning Wimbledon for an eighth time.
World number one Djokovic, seeking a third Wimbledon crown, decided not to play in any of the warm-up events.
Serena Williams, who also opted to stick to her usual schedule of not playing any lead-up events, was named top seed ahead of defending champion Petra Kvitova in the women’s field.
Russia’s Maria Sharapova was seeded fourth while 2014 runner-up Eugenie Bouchard is a lowly 12th.
American Williams, who has failed to get past the fourth round since the last of her five Wimbledon titles in 2012, is bidding to hold all four majors at once by winning the crown.
Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, additional reporting by Mike collett; editing by Ken Ferris