Britain's Andy Murray returns the ball to Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek during their match at the Queen's Club Championships in west London June 12, 2014. Photo by Suzanne Plunkett, Reuters.
LONDON - Andy Murray's attempted defense of his Wimbledon title was given a boost when he was bumped up to third seed on Wednesday, meaning he will not face either Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal or Roger Federer until the semis.
World number five Murray was hoisted up the pecking order thanks to Wimbledon's unique seeding policy for the men's singles which takes into account recent grasscourt results.
Twice former champion Rafa Nadal, the world No.1, paid the price for failing to get past the second round in the last two years as he was seeded two, with Serbian Djokovic, who Murray beat in last year's final, hoisted to top seed.
Murray became the first Briton to win the men's singles title since 1936 last July and will open play on Centre Court when the tournament starts on Monday.
Seven-times champion Federer of Switzerland was named as the fourth seed, meaning neither he nor Djokovic, Nadal or Murray can face each other before the semi-finals.
Djokovic, champion in 2011, said he was surprised to be top seed.
"A little bit to be honest. I appreciate the respect that I get from the Wimbledon tournament - I always tried to perform my best tennis in this tournament," he told Eurosport.
"I dreamt to win, which happened in 2011. I had some success there, many semi-finals and finals, and it may have affected the decision. It's a responsibility, an extra pressure if I can say it like that.
"It's all part of the sport, it's privilege and a responsibility I have to overcome as a top player. I have to deliver my best game in London."
Wimbledon is the only grand slam that does not automatically follow the men's rankings when seedings are decided. Instead, officials rely on a three-stage formula which takes into account grass-court performances of the past two seasons.
Murray won last year's Wimbledon and reached the final in 2012 when he also won the Olympics on the All England Club turf.
Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka will be seeded fifth despite his world ranking of three, having lost in the first round in 2012 and last year.
World number one Serena Williams is top of the women's seedings, which mirror the WTA rankings, followed by Li Na and French Open runner-up Simona Halep.
French Open champion Maria Sharapova is the fifth seed.
The draw takes place on Friday.
(Reporting by Josh Reich; Editing by John O'Brien and Martyn Herman)