LONDON (Reuters) - Two-times champion Andy Murray should have been seeded in this year’s Wimbledon draw, according to former world number one Mats Wilander who says the returning Briton will be a nightmare opponent at the All England Club.
The 31-year-old Murray was included in Friday’s draw and will face enigmatic Frenchman Benoit Paire in the first round.
Murray, who only returned to competitive action last week at Queen’s Club after a year out with a hip injury that needed surgery in January, is still assessing his fitness before making a final decision about whether to play.
Should he decide to compete in the tournament, which begins on Monday, Murray faces a tough draw, with highly rated Canadian Denis Shapovalov a possible second-round opponent and fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro awaiting in the third.
Seventeen-times Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal is also in Murray’s half of the draw.
“I’m surprised they didn’t seed him to be honest,” Wilander, who will be Eurosport’s chief analyst during the fortnight, told Reuters. “He has won a couple of times and somehow you would have wanted to help him and give him a chance.
“It doesn’t matter if he’s had a year off he’s good enough on grass. They seeded Serena (Williams) 25 so I’m surprised Murray wasn’t thrown in at maybe number 32.”
Murray, winner of the title in 2013 and 2016 and runner-up in 2012 is ranked at 156 after his near year-long absence.
Wimbledon uses the ATP rankings to determine the 32 seeds although it does also take into account grasscourt results using a special formula to make tweaks to the order.
Seeded or not, Wilander thinks Murray will get a huge boost by playing at Wimbledon and could still be a threat.
“I think he’s pretty close, it’s perfect for him,” Wilander said. “To get back on the grass at home it will make him so fired up each match.
“It’s about getting ready emotionally. If he’s ready physically it will grow. He will get better with each round.
“No one will want to play him for that reason. He could be a nightmare for someone. It’ll be like ‘Oh God, I don’t want to see him on the other side of the net’.”
Murray will receive huge support should he play, and Wilander says it would be a massive boost for the tournament.
“It adds so much to the tournament to have him back. It makes for an unbelievable atmosphere to have him back and after Federer he’s the most important player for Wimbledon still.”
Murray, who was ranked world number one this time last year, sounded optimistic after practicing on Friday.
“I will see how the next couple of days go. I’m playing sets on Saturday, but most likely I’ll be playing,” he said.
“I need to play it a little bit by ear, I can’t predict how I will feel in two days.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Alison Williams