YESTERDAY it was Rafa Nadal’s turn to come first. Roger Federer was second and Novak Djokovic was third. But that was just their scheduled slots in Wimbledon’s main interview room.

These three all-time titans of tennis have shared out 53 major titles – including all of the last 10, and 14 of the last 16 SW19 singles titles – and it is still anyone’s guess which order they will finish come the end of this fortnight.

Let’s deal with them in chronological order. Nadal, having spent the time since his remarkable 12th Roland Garros title practising on a specially-constructed grass court near his home in Mallorca, confessed to having fallen in practice, but said he had sustained no major damage.

At once accepting the rules but re-iterating his belief about the unfairness of the formula which Wimbledon use to formulate their seedings – based more on previous grass-court performance than simple world rankings – he said a tougher path to the title can often be a spur to producing his best tennis. Bumped to No.3 seed despite being the world’s second best player by the rankings, the perceived injustice means that he may have to defeat Federer in the semi-finals then find the formidable Serb waiting in the final if he is to snatch back a title he hasn’t claimed since 2010.

“For me the goal is the same always, it doesn't matter if I'm second or third,” said Nadal. “Of course, it can create an impact in the rankings at the end of the year.

“I respect the Wimbledon rules,” he added. “But another thing is if I believe that is fair or not, that's another story. And I really personally believe it is not. But I really respect the tournament so much. I really respect the history of this event. I really understand that they see the sport from another perspective. They want to do it by their own rules.

“Another thing is we are an organisation in the ATP who give two thousand points to this event. So we are supposed to have something to say about this Wimbledon rules when we are giving them the maximum points possible in one event.”

With Japanese qualifier Yuichi Sugita to get out of the way first on Tuesday, he wasn’t particularly of a mind to expand on what could be a tasty encounter with Nick Kyrgios in the second round. The unpredictable Aussie has a Wimbledon defeat over Nadal on his resume, not to mention some recent comments claiming he is “super salty”.

“I won 2010 I think here after a very, very tough first couple of rounds,” said the Spaniard. “Sometimes that helps, especially in this event, when you arrive here without playing much on this surface. But the only thing that really matters is win the matches, no? Doesn't matter what is the score."

As the direct recipient – albeit backed up by his eight previous titles here – Federer, perhaps unsurprisingly, took a different view on the seedings furore. For a change, he too is transitioning from clay, and comes into the event fresh from his time-honoured victory in Halle. “I don't know if I will have a massive benefit from having played on clay,” he said. “But look, I mean, Halle went well. Practice this week has been going good, too. Back in the day, it [the seeding issue] was tougher. Guys who were seeded became unseeded. So that was a bigger storyline I think than this one. Just happens that Rafa obviously went down, so I think that makes the news."

He expanded on how it feels to be the senior partner in this remarkable tennis triumvirate. “Funny enough, you always think somebody takes away something from the other,” said Federer. “Probably we have. At the same time, we also pushed each other to greater heights, to improve maybe Rafa's grass, Novak's whatever, hard courts, I don't know what, my clay, I don't know.

“I think we definitely became better because of one another. I don't know if we'd all still be playing if we had played in different eras. But it's been fun having us, from my side. I hope the fans enjoyed it. Because I think we're all very different characters, they could like either player.”

Reigning champion Djokovic was last man in, appearing as menacing as ever – even if he was diverted into a lengthy discussion on ATP in-fighting following the overnight resignations of Jamie Murray, Robin Haase and Dani Vallverdu from the players’ council.

“I obviously have not been so happy to be part of Federer, Nadal era at the beginning of my career,” said Djokovic on a day when No.14 seed Borna Coric withdrew. “I wasn't winning much of the major events. But it's a different story right now. I think I'm very grateful to be part of this era.”