The rankings will look very strange on Monday. Because the schedule is a little different this year (as we looked at a few weeks ago), the points players earned in Rome last year will drop this week. Players will actually be able to count an extra 250 (but not 500) score for that week as there will have only been 7 mandatory Masters 1000 tournaments in the past 52 weeks. Next week players will get to add their scores from Madrid, so the extra 250 will be dropped. Since Madrid is a week earlier this year than last, the May 9th rankings will actually count both the Madrid tournaments from this year and last year. Once May 16th rolls around, the rankings will be back to only counting tournaments once.
Now, there is a very good reason to care about rankings at this time of year. The rankings are used to determine the seeding at every tournament (except Wimbledon, but there is also usually very little variation between the rankings and seeding there as well). Thus, players want to do as well as possible over the next two weeks to get the best seed they can at Roland Garros.
There are some important cutoffs in the seeding. Since the draw is determined by lottery, it is not a given that the highest-ranked player will face the lowest-ranked player in the first round. In fact, it is not even guaranteed that the #2 be scheduled to play the #3 in the semifinals (should both get that far, obviously). What is a given is that the #1 and #2 seeds cannot reach each other until the finals. It is also guaranteed that the #3 and #4 seeds get their own quarter (i.e. they cannot meet another one of the top 4 seeds until the semifinals at the earliest). No one in the top 8 can meet another top 8 seed until the quarterfinals, etc.
So, the main battles that we will be looking at and that the players will be very conscious of are who will be #2 and who will be #4. To a lesser extent players will also fight to be #8 instead of #9 and #16 instead of #17, but there are so many points to be gained at a Masters event that almost anyone in the top 15 can reach #8 with good runs in the next two weeks (and almost anyone in the top 60 could reach #16). We will only look at what the players within striking distance need to do to get to #2 and #4.
This is the second half of my article from this week. If are interested in the rest of this section or the entire article, click here