Roger Federer demolished Alexander Zverev in Halle on Sunday (25 June) to leapfrog old rival Rafael Nadal in the seedings for the 2017 Wimbledon Championships, but played down claims that the achievement will have any bearing on his performance at SW19.
Initially set to be seeded fifth for the third Grand Slam tournament of the year, Federer jumped ahead of compatriot Stan Wawrinka into fourth courtesy of the latter's surprise defeat to eventual winner Feliciano Lopez at Queen's and his own victory over Alexander's elder brother Mischa Zverev. Such a win ensured that tennis' so-called "Big Four" – Federer, Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic – would make up the top four seeds at a major for the first time since 2014.
The 18-time Grand Slam champion needed to win the ATP 500 grass-court event in Germany for a record ninth time to move up one more place and subsequently eliminated both Florian Mayer and Karen Khachanov before blasting through up-and-coming star Zverev 6-1 6-3 in a time of just 53 minutes.
Speaking after sealing his 92nd career singles title in typically dominant fashion, the resurgent Federer, who won the Australian Open in January before completing a sunshine double in Miami and Indian Wells and missing the entire clay-court swing, played down any potential benefit from being seeded inside the top four.
"I don't think that my seed of whether four or five has an influence on how successful I will be at Wimbledon," he was quoted as saying by Omnisport. "Both seedings would have had pros and cons. If you want to win Wimbledon you always have to beat the best players anyway.
"Some might think, okay you have to beat one big player less, but that doesn't bother me. I have to have enough self-confidence that it is also possible to win at Wimbledon from seed five. And I didn't even know before that I could reach the fourth seed."
Focus shifts to Wimbledon
With Federer set to be seeded third and Nadal fourth, the pair will be in separate halves of the draw at Wimbledon and therefore cannot meet again until the final. Federer bested his fellow renaissance man in a nostalgic Melbourne showpiece and also got the better of him twice in the United States as the duo continue to roll back the years and take full advantage of the respective slumps experienced by Murray and Djokovic.
35-year-old Federer, firmly cemented as the favourite to claim his eighth Wimbledon title and move clear of Pete Sampras, says he will now take a "couple of days off" before resuming practice ahead of his latest trip to the All England Club.
Nadal withdrew from the Aegon Championships after a doctor advised him to rest in the aftermath of an incredible 10th French Open triumph at Roland Garros, while Murray will play two exhibition matches at the Aspall Tennis Classic in Hurlingham this week after his shock first-round loss to world number 90 Jordan Thompson at Queen's.
Djokovic, in a quest to rediscover his form, will break a six-year routine of not playing in any Wimbledon warm-up tournaments by competing at the Aegon International in Eastbourne.