Brackets, draws, seeds – er, wot? It all means something but my brain seems to shut off when these elements are mentioned. On the eve of the Wimbledon tournament, maybe it’s time to look at this. Basically I know it all means the way they divide the players to pit them against each other, but I don’t understand the mechanics of it.
Aha! The seed system is not just dividing all the players. It’s dividing top players; read below, from About.com:
"Seeding is the system used to separate the top players in a draw so that they will not meet in the early rounds of a tournament. The top seed is the player the tournament committee deems the strongest player in the field. She and the second seed are placed at opposite ends of the draw so that, if they both keep winning, they will meet in the final round. The number of seeds is based on the size of the draw."
Okay. Feeling more confident about seeds. Now, what about draws? This is harder. Googling isn’t having the usual split-second satisfaction result – instead, the answers are leading me to more talk about seeds.
Frustrated, I typed into Google: “What is the draw system in tennis?” Google is like an oracle. If you ask an explicit question, it will grant you an answer. Once again from About.com:
"The draw is the designation of who will play whom in a bracketed, elimination tournament. After the seeds are placed, the rest of the players' names are drawn at random and placed in the remaining brackets. It's usually considered a "bad draw" to have to play one of the top seeds in an early round."
Breakthrough! Seeds are “placed,” while lower-ranked players are the ones whose names are drawn out of a hat. But … lately people are complaining about Federer and Djokovic always ending up in the same half of the draw. If the top seeds are placed, wouldn’t those two be placed in separate halves? And during the bracket-and-draw disputes that rage in tennis online forums, it sounds like all the players are randomly assigned spots. Except for what I guess happens during the seeding process.
[Insert Charles Schultz's circular scribble over someone's head to indicate brain fuddle.]
In non-organizational news (whew), I watched the 60 Minutes special on Djokovic tonight – very enjoyable. It caught his high spirits and his direct, warm intelligence. The scene where he went back to visit his old coach with his Wimbledon trophy was really lovely. He said he’d always dreamed of putting one of his trophies – “but not just any trophy – this!” on her shelf among her trophies. He did this and beamed. She covered his face with kisses.
My picks for Wimbledon:
Men: Nadal d. Federer
Women: Sharapova d. Williams
Why don’t I think Novak will make the final? I think he’s shown surprising laxness, low spirits, just kind of a crummy mood, that make me feel he’s not in touch with the clarity or energy that powered him through 2011. Federer is feeling up, he revealed today in a buoyant Reuters interview, and Wimbledon is a special place for him, though it’s also the site of some painful ground-ceding. Everyone is predicting his end, but I think that gets him in the mood to fight. And he fights well.
I wrote not long ago that Serena Williams is Sharapova’s kryptonite, but Serena’s star has drooped lately, and Maria’s has soared. Serena is another athlete who fights beautifully when she’s underestimated, and I want her to make it, but it seems to me Maria has earned some very rugged self-belief lately. And that Serena hasn’t been able to. We’ll see which lady comes up with the goods, but I doubt either of them will be upset before the final.
Tomorrow it starts! It’s like Christmas!