Roger Federer is guaranteed not to meet any of his so-called “Big Four” rivals – Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal – until the Wimbledon semi-finals following his latest victory over Mischa Zverev at the Gerry Weber Open on Thursday (22 June).
The 18-time Grand Slam winner, seeking to move clear of fellow tennis legend Pete Sampras next month by claiming a record eighth singles title at SW19, claimed a 7-6 6-4 straight-sets victory over the spirited Zverev to book a Halle quarter-final spot and crucially ensure top-four seeding for the third major of the year.
Federer faces Florian Mayer in the quarter-finals on Friday afternoon, with Karen Khachanov also meeting Andrey Rublev, Richard Gasquet playing Robin Haase and Alexander Zverev taking on Roberto Bautista-Agut.
If the resurgent Swiss, currently fifth in the world rankings, goes onto win the ATP 500 grass-court tournament for the fourth time in five years and ninth overall, then he will be seeded third for Wimbledon.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) use a unique seeding system that takes into account a player’s Emirates ATP Ranking points as of 26 June in addition to 100% of the points earned for all grass-court tournaments in the previous 12 months.
Djokovic, who will play at the Aegon International next week as he competes in a grass-court warm-up event for the first time in seven years in a bid to rediscover his lost form, will be seeded second behind world number one Murray at Wimbledon regardless of his exploits in Eastbourne.
Nadal will secure the third seed if Federer fails to win it all again at Halle, while beaten French Open finalist Stan Wawrinka will be seeded fifth following his shock first-round defeat to Feliciano Lopez at Queen’s Club earlier this week coupled with his compatriot’s win over the elder Zverev sibling.
Federer will be confident of advancing past Mayer, having defeated the German right-hander in all seven of their previous matches – three of which came in Halle in 2005, 2012 and 2015.
The 35-year-old, Australian Open winner in January, has bounced back quickly from his surprise loss to fellow veteran Tommy Haas in Stuttgart – his first outing since completing the sunshine double at Indian Wells and Miami and skipping the entire clay-court swing.