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This week’s submission deadline is Monday morning, October 27, 4am (EST) in the U.S./10am (CET) in Europe.
Here we are at the end of our fantasy tennis season. This week’s Masters Series event in Paris is the last event. It might be easy to pick because most of us have used up the top players. We need eight players for our team so let’s pick two players from each quarter – the quarterfinalists.
Paris draw (carpet, first prize: $553,846)
Rafael Nadal is the top seed but everyone has used him up, so Gael Monfils is the second best choice. He’s 2-0 over Marat Safin and he reached the semifinals in Bangkok, the final in Vienna, and the quarterfinals in Madrid.
There are three qualifiers in the second section so check the final draw before you submit your picks to see if anyone interesting qualified through to the main draw. For now I have to choose between Stanislas Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych, and Nikolay Davydenko. I’ve used up Berdych and Wawrinka has only one win in his last three events. Davydenko won this event two years ago, reached the quarterfinals the year before that, and is 7-0 over Berdych. I was smart enough to save my last Davydenko for this event so he’s my pick.
There are two quarterfinalists and one semifinalist from last year’s draw in the third section. Andy Murray was a quarterfinalist and he’s on a tear. He’s 13-1 indoors, he won Madrid, and he’s in the final in St. Petersburg, but I’ve used him up. Marcos Baghdatis was a semifinalist last year but he lost in the first round in Metz and Basel and didn’t play Madrid. Tommy Robredo was a quarterfinalist last year too but he hasn’t been past the second round indoors this year. Fernando Verdasco reached the quarterfinals in Vienna and the semifinals in St. Petersburg so he might be the second best choice to Murray, but he’s never been past the second round here and I’ve used him up, so I’m going to look elsewhere in the draw for a player.
Juan Martin Del Potro and David Nalbandian appear to be joined at the hip. They met in Madrid, with Del Potro winning, and Nalbandian just beat Del Potro in the Basel semifinals. I’m picking them both because I need an extra player to make up for the last section and they’re both on a roll.
Andy Roddick has two semifinals and a quarterfinal in five trips to Paris but I’ve used him up. Gilles Simon reached the final in Madrid – where he beat Igor Andreev – and the semifinals in Lyon, but I’ve used him up too. Feliciano Lopez reached the semifinals in Vienna and Basel and the quarterfinals in Madrid, but he could play Roddick in the second round and he’s 0-4 against him. I’m picking Paul-Henri Mathieu out of sheer desperation because he’s 2-0 over Andreev on fast courts, and he’s 3-0 over Simon including a win on indoor hard court in Marseille this year.
Novak Djokovic is the top seed in the next section but most people have used him up. He hasn’t gone past the second round here though I expect he will this year. Radek Stepanek reached the semifinals the last time he played this event in 2005, and the year before that he reached the final. Since then, though, he’s 3-3 on carpet. For that reason, I’m picking Jo-Wilfried Tsonga because he’s 9-3 indoors this year and just reached the semifinals on carpet in Lyon.
James Blake has never been past the third round here but he did beat Jarkko Nieminen the last three times they met indoors, he beat Mikhail Youzhny on a slick indoor surface in the Davis Cup final last year, and he beat David Ferrer the only time they met indoors. I’ve used up all my Blakes, though, so I need to pick between Ferrer and Youzhny who both reached the quarterfinals here last year, but are having awful fall indoor seasons. Ferrer beat Youzhny on carpet in 2003 and Youzhny beat Ferrer in Rotterdam last year. I’m going with Youzhny because he won their most recent matchup and at least he’s got one win this fall indoors.
The last section is tough to pick because I’ve used up Richard Gasquet – who’s been playing poorly anyway, Robin Soderling, and Roger Federer. That leaves me with Marin Cilic and Andreas Seppi. Cilic was 5-2 on indoor hard court last year but he’s 2-4 this year and he has only two career wins on carpet. Seppi’s record is pretty similar. I’m going with Seppi because he beat Cilic on hard court in Davis Cup this year on Cilic’s home court in Croatia.
Here are my picks for this week: Monfils, Davydenko, Del Potro, Nalbandian, Mathieu, Tsonga, Youzhny, and Seppi.