Cameron Norrie's performances at Queen's helped earn him a seeding

Credit: PA

As miserable weather delayed the return of Wimbledon’s preliminary event – the qualifying draw at Roehampton in south-west London – there has at least been some good news on the seeding front. Three Britons will be seeded for the main singles draws for the first time since 1978.

Cameron Norrie’s run to the final of Queen’s has sown up this unexpected statistic, adding him to the short list already occupied by British No1 Dan Evans – who remains eight places higher than Norrie at No26 in the world – and Johanna Konta, the 2017 Wimbledon semi-finalist.

It would be stretching things to say that British tennis is in fine fettle. The other side of the coin is that we have no serious contender to lift a Wimbledon singles trophy for the first time since Murray became a force in 2008.

But the work-rate of these three players cannot be faulted. They demonstrate the basic truth of modern tennis: if you train with intensity and desire every day, you will improve. Nineteen-year-old Jack Draper, who also impressed at Queen’s last week, has some excellent role models to learn from.

The Wimbledon seedings will be confirmed on Wednesday. They have switched to replicating the world rankings since the grass-court seeding formula – which used to give more weight to surface-specific performances – was abandoned last year.

Norrie’s runner-up finish at Queen’s carried him to a career high of No34 in the world. Thanks to the two higher-ranked players (Rafael Nadal and David Goffin) who have already withdrawn from Wimbledon, he is guaranteed to be among the 32 seeds.

In 1978, there were only 16 seeds in each draw. Buster Mottram was seeded 12th, just behind a 19-year-old John McEnroe, while on the women’s side defending champion Virginia Wade was seeded fourth and Sue Barker 14th. Wade would go on to lose to Chris Evert in the semi-finals, who then lost to Martina Navratilova in the first of their five Wimbledon finals.

Meanwhile, Murray confirmed on Monday that he will not be repeating his crowd-pleasing mixed-doubles partnership with Serena Williams at this year’s Wimbledon, in order to focus on the singles event.

Murray – who needed a wild card to participate in this year’s men’s event – has not played a singles match at the All England Club since 2017, when he was effectively functioning on one leg but still made it through to the quarter-finals before going out to big-serving American Sam Querrey.

Two years ago, he won one men’s doubles match at Wimbledon with Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, while also reaching the third round of the mixed event with Williams before they were eliminated by Bruno Soares and Nicole Melichar.

Murray told reporters that “I hadn’t planned on it [doubles] this time. Getting through singles matches has proved tough enough the last year or so. So I’ll stick to singles this year.”

Murray also explained that he is working through a cautious build-up after his two singles matches at Queen’s last week. He made a respectable showing at his first grass-court tournament for two years, beating the flaky Benoit Paire before losing 6-3, 6-3 to eventual champion Matteo Berrettini.