Monthly Archives: July 2008

ATP Fantasy Tennis Picks for Toronto

It’s time for the ATP Fantasy Tennis Season so check out our Fantasy Tennis Guide. You’ll find Fast Facts, Strategies, and Statistics to help you play the game.

Sign up and join our subleague! It’s called We send weekly email updates to all subleague members before the submission deadline.

This week’s submission deadline is Monday, July 21, 10am (EST) in the U.S./4pm (CET) in Europe.

This week we have the first of consecutive Masters Series events. We start with Toronto and next week we’re in Cincinnati. Consecutive Masters events are tough on the players, especially on hard court in hot North American summers, so the results can be wildly unpredictable. Last year five of the top eight seeds reached the quarterfinals but the year before, only one did.

We need eight players for our fantasy team so let’s pick the quarterfinalists.

Toronto draw (hard court, first prize: $420,000)

The first thing you’ll notice is that the prize money is about $133,000 less than it is for European Masters events. Blame the weak U.S. dollar. And remember that this tournament rotates yearly between Montreal and Toronto.

Fernando Gonzalez reached the semifinals here two years ago but last summer he lost his first match in every hard court event and he’s 1-11 against Roger Federer, so Federer has a pretty easy path to the quarterfinals. But should I use him? I used him in Hamburg, the French Open, and Wimbledon, so I can only use him twice more. I’ll use him for the U.S. Open but he’s reached the finals at Madrid the past two years and remember that Madrid will pay $133,000 more to the winner than Toronto. I’m saving Federer for Madrid.

Who do I pick in Federer’s section? Gonzalez is 7-1 over Jose Acasuso and Gulbis and Benneteau have never done much here, so Gonzalez it is.

In Andy Roddick’s section, Tommy Robredo has won only two matches on hard court this year and Marin Cilic started well on hard court then tailed off. Janko Tipsarevic, on the other hand, beat Roddick at Wimbledon and pushed Federer to 10-8 in the fifth set at the Australian Open. The problem is that Tipsarevic has never played in the main draw at Toronto, Montreal, or Cincinnati. He has very little experience on the summer hard court swing while Roddick reached the quarterfinals last year and is 11-3 on hard court this year. I’ve only picked Roddick twice this year so Roddick it is.

Wow, Nikolay Davydenko is 16-4 on hard court this year including a title in Miami. He also reached the quarterfinals here last year and the semifinals at Cincinnati. Is there any reason not to pick him? There might be. I used him in Rome, Hamburg, and Roland Garros and I was going to use him at the U.S. Open (he reached the semifinals the past two years) and Moscow (he won the title the past two years). Davydenko probably won’t get past the quarterfinals here because James Blake is 6-0 over him and Radek Stepanek has beaten him the last three times they’ve played. The quarterfinals here pay $51,000 whereas a title in Moscow is worth $170,000, so I’m saving Davydenko for Moscow.

Now I’m in a bind because Mikhail Youzhny has a 1-4 record against Davydenko and Tommy Haas hasn’t been past the third round here since 2002. I’m going with Nicolas Kiefer because he’s beaten Youzhny the last two times they’ve played.

Dmitry Tursunov beat James Blake this week in Indianapolis but I think Stepanek will take Tursunov out. Stepanek is 1-4 against Blake on outdoor hard court but Blake has never been past the second round here. I’m going with Blake anyway because last year he pulled out of his second round match due to injury and the year before he lost to Richard Gasquet who made it to the final.

The last time this tournament was in Toronto, Andy Murray reached the semifinals whereas Stanislas Wawrinka has never been past the second round. Murray also beat Wawrinka in Doha earlier this year. Sam Querrey has a 16-6 record on hard court this year but he hasn’t done well at big events and Marat Safin has one win on hard court. I’m going with Murray.

Novak Djokovic is 16-2 on hard court this year and he beat Federer in the final last year when this tournament was in Montreal. Fernando Verdasco has a losing record on hard court and he’s never done well here or in Cincinnati. Canas won this event in 2002 but he hasn’t done anything on the summer hard court swing since then. Mario Ancic and Robin Soderling have never been past the third round here or in Cincinnati. Frank Dancevic reached the quarterfinals last year but he’s 1-3 on hard court this year. Djokovic it is because he’s never played well in Cincinnati and I’m saving my last pick on him for the U.S. Open.

Richard Gasquet and David Ferrer shouldn’t have much trouble getting to the fourth round, but who’ll win the match between them when they get there? Ferrer is 3-0 over Gasquet so the choice looks obvious but it’s not because Ferrer has never been past the second round here. Gasquet reached the final two years ago but that’s the only time he’s been past the second round either here or in Cincinnati. I would usually go with one-on-one record over tournament record but only one of Ferrer’s wins over Gasquet was on outdoor hard court so I’m picking Gasquet.

Rafael Nadal’s section is pretty weak but I can’t use him because I’m saving my last pick on him for the U.S. Open. Tomas Berdych has a 2-0 record over Nieminen, beat Igor Andreev in Miami this year, beat Gael Monfils in Dubai, reached the quarterfinals the last time this tournament was in Toronto, and he has a 3-1 record over Nadal on hard court. He’s my best hope outside of Nadal so I’m taking him.


Here are my picks: Gonzalez, Roddick, Kiefer, Blake, Murray, Djokovic, Gasquet, and Berdych.

Happy fantasies!

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

Venus beat her sister Serena and Rafa beat Roger at Wimbledon in a totally glorious weekend of tennis at Wimbledon

Roger Federer had come back from two sets down to even the match at 2-2 in the fifth set of his Wimbledon final against Rafael Nadal when the rains came a second time. This was five hours and 17 minutes after the match had started and it seemed like a good time to sneak upstairs to the kitchen for a snack. On the radio, ESPN sports radio host Freddie Coleman was comparing Roger’s comeback to Tiger Woods’ “victory at broken knee.” Woods recently won golf’s version of the U.S. Open with a torn cruciate ligament and a double stress fracture in the same leg.

I’m not sure about that comparison and Roger had yet to win, but I was very happy to discover that a national sports program was hanging on every point of a tennis match. In between following the match, Coleman chided us for criticizing the outside interests of Serena and Venus Williams. Martina Hingis was consumed by tennis and where is she now? Kim Clijsters was consumed by tennis and where is she now? Justine Henin was consumed by tennis and where is she now?

Go ahead, criticize the sisters for wanting to get into acting and fashion design, but who’s got the most slams now? Serena passed Hinging and Henin with eight slams, Venus passed Hingis and is now even with Henin at seven slams. So Coleman is right to crow a little, but it’s hard not to think of what might have been. Serena needs four more slams to pull even with Billie Jean King and I’ll be heartbroken if she doesn’t get there. If she doesn’t, I’ll just remind myself that Billie Jean never had to beat the person she loved most to win more than a few of those titles.

I keep forgetting that Serena is the little sister because she’s the one with attitude to burn, but it burns just that slightest bit less against big sister and that was part of the problem in their Wimbledon final this year.

Serena started the match with a return winner and finished the first game with a strong backhand cross court to go up a break right away, and she wasn’t taking it easy on her sister. Venus won her second service game but not until she’d put away a hard shot aimed directly at her belly button.

The level of tennis was fantastic to start the match but Venus kept applying pressure with big returns until the she got the break back to even the first set at four all. Serena got a break point in the next game but Venus is the best grass court player in the women’s game. She’s the hardest server and she covers the most ground with those gangly legs of hers, and she managed to fight off the break point. Then Serena’s little sister syndrome made an appearance.

Venus had game point when Serena hit a shot and yelled “out.” The ball didn’t go out, it landed on the line, and the chair umpire called “let, replay the point” because Serena had hindered Venus by yelling during the point. Instead of replaying, Serena walked to the sideline and gave Venus the point and the game.

I don’t know if Serena would have yelled like that in a match with any other opponent – maybe she momentarily lost track and thought she was in a practice match with Venus. We don’t really know because she brushed off two questions about it in the post-match media session. But I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have given the point to any other opponent. She would have replayed it.

Venus is often faulted for having a weak second serve but it was Serena who won exactly one point on her second serve in the first set. When Serena served to stay in the set at 5-6, Venus ate up those second serves to win the game and the set.

Serena started off the second set with a return winner too and she also got a break point, but Venus had been hitting huge serves into Serena’s body all day and it got her out of the game. Serena got more break points in Venus’ next service game and she absolutely fought her heart out. It was the best game I’ve ever seen them play.

Serena got one of those break points with a with a beautiful stab volley while Venus saved four break points with second serves and hit a second serve ace. Finally, on Serena’s seventh break point in the game, Venus slipped backwards on the worn grass behind the baseline and Serena had her break to go up 2-1.

Venus was probably mad that she lost on a TKO – and that last game looked like a boxing match – because she broke right back. The big sister doesn’t always play her best against Serena either. This is the third Wimbledon final they’ve played and Venus lost the first two. But when Venus does play well on grass, no one in the world can beat her and she did play well.

Serena found herself facing two match points while serving to stay in the match at 4-5. She erased the first one with an ace and played a very good point on the second, but Venus was the better player.

Serena gathered herself then went out and won the doubles title with Venus. If it’s hard playing your sister for a coveted slam title and losing, how hard is it to put that away and go out and play a doubles final with her a little while later? This was their 12th doubles title, seven of which have been in slams. If they hadn’t already qualified for the Hall of Fame in singles, they’d be there in doubles for that number alone.

The first rain delay in the match between Roger and Rafa came in the third set. Just as Roger benefited from the first rain delay – he was already down two sets to none – Rafa should have benefited from that second rain delay because he’d just lost the third and fourth set. Roger had been having trouble with his serve so the match momentum had been heading towards neutral. Good thing, then, that Roger started right in with an ace and a service winner to close out the game and go up 3-2 in the fifth set.

Roger is still my boy, I’ve got plenty of time to fall in love with Rafa, and all Roger had to do was hold serve then get to the tiebreaker because he had 19 aces already and he’d won the third and fourth sets with tiebreakers. Then my heart sunk. There is no tiebreaker in the fifth set at Wimbledon and Rafa was the guy getting the breaks of serve, not Roger. So when Roger got down 0-30 with the fifth set even at 7-7, I thought to myself, “Here it comes, Rafa will now get his Wimbledon trophy.” Then I started writing my closing paragraph.

Rafa did break Roger and then served for the set as the dark was coming down and the clock was getting very close to 9:30pm – the witching hour. Roger flicked an impossibly sharp backhand winner off an equally wide serve to fight off Rafa’s third match point, but on the next match point, Roger put an approach into the net and the longest match in Wimbledon final history – all four hours and 48 minutes of it – was over.

Roger is no longer the king and I’m unhappy about that. I wanted Roger to come back from two sets down so that the local sports gods would hang on every point in the next slam. But now that Roger has lost, now that he’s 0-3 in slams this year, now that he
s failed to win his sixth straight Wimbledon title, it won’t happen. It won’t happen because Roger is now on the way down and the greater sports world will move on. If he can’t fight off the young Spaniard or win a major on a broken knee, well, we’ve got beach volleyball up next for you.

John McEnroe was being gracious with Roger when he interviewed him after the match. He said “It was the greatest match I’ve ever witnessed.” It wasn’t the best match of all time, it wasn’t even the best Wimbledon match of all time, and McEnroe should know because he played in it. The 1980 McEnroeBorg final holds that honor for the 18-16 fourth set tiebreaker that McEnroe won after saving five match points and the steely calm that allowed Borg to shake it off and take the fifth set 8-6.

That was Borg’s last Wimbledon title and here was Roger poised to pass him with six straight titles in an almost equally dramatic match, but there were no tiebreakers left to play and he hadn’t broken Rafa since the second set and wouldn’t break him again and, anyway, it was Rafa who was making like Borg, not Roger. He was the guy who shook off the third and fourth set and hung around to win the fifth 9-7.

Maybe it was Borg’s shoulder Roger should have been crying on but it was McEnroe’s instead and that was the next best thing. McEnroe offered Roger a sympathetic hug and was sensitive enough to cut the interview short so Roger could shed the rest of his tears in private.

As for me, I am now officially in love with Rafa. I know, I know, I’m one of those quick-change what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sports commentators I mentioned above, but it’s time. It was almost time last year but Rafa had the slightest letdown in the fifth set and surely the time has arrived considering that Rafa cut his way through the clay court season yet again and made Andy Roddick look like Vince Spadea at Queen’s Club on the grass.

And how much better could it get? We go directly from one supreme champion to another and we’ve still got the Williams sisters fighting it out in slam finals. That is known as tennis heaven.

ATP Fantasy Tennis Picks for Bastad, Gstaad, Stuttgart, and Newport

It’s time for the ATP Fantasy Tennis Season so check out our Fantasy Tennis Guide. You’ll find Fast Facts, Strategies, and Statistics to help you play the game.

Sign up and join our subleague! It’s called We send weekly email updates to all subleague members before the submission deadline.

This week’s submission deadline is Monday morning, July 7, 4am (EST) in the U.S./10am (CET) in Europe.

This is an Olympic year so the schedule is jammed up in places and this is one of those places. We have four tournaments this week, three on clay and one on grass. We’ll have three more clay court and one hard court event next week. After that, the U.S. hard court season kicks into high gear with two straight Masters Series events. Notice that the tournaments this week have 28 players, not 32, because there are not enough players to go around. That means the top four seeds gets a bye in the first round.

Stuttgart (clay, first prize: $181,538)
Gstaad (clay, first prize: $100,000)
Bastad (clay, first prize: $83,461)
Newport (grass, first prize: $64,000)

As you can see, Stuttgart is paying three times as much as Newport and twice as much as Bastad. We need eight singles players for our fantasy team so let’s take three players from Stuttgart, two each from Gstaad and Bastad, and one player from Newport to maximize our prize money.


Stuttgart is usually played next week so I’m surprised that Rafael Nadal is in this draw. If he does turn up, it should be a cakewalk to the semifinals because he has three wildcards in his quarter. Last year I used Nadal for this tournament because the prize money is so high and there were no clay court events in the fantasy tennis schedule. This year I’m saving him for the remaining Masters events and the U.S. Open. Remember, you can only use each player five times during the season.

Philipp Kohlschreiber and Simone Bolelli have similar results on clay this year. Kohlschreiber has a victory over David Ferrer on clay and Bolelli has a victory over Paul-Henri Mathieu. Kohlschreiber is the slightly stronger player so I’ll go with him.

Nicolas Almagro was in the final at Bastad last year but he’s never done much here. And Agustin Calleri beat him in Bastad two years ago, but Almagro reached the quarterfinals in two of the three clay Masters events and the French Open so he’s the obvious choice.

The last quarter is tough to pick because Richard Gasquet has played terribly on clay this year. Jose Acasuso plays Albert Montanes in the first round and Montanes beat him in Hamburg, but it was the first time he’d beaten him in five tries so that’s a tossup. Gasquet is the better pick because he has two qualifiers in his section, but should I use him this week or save him for the remaining Masters and slam events? He’s had a final at the Canadian Masters and a semifinal in Paris, but he’s never been past the fourth round at the U.S. Open. I can use him three more times so I’ll use him here and save him for two remaining events.

I’m picking Kohlschreiber, Almagro, and Gasquet.


Martin Vassallo-Arguello reached the quarterfinals last year and beat Stanislaw Wawrinka in the first round. But Vassallo-Arguello hasn’t gone past the second round of an ATP event this year and Wawrinka had a final in Rome and semifinal in Barcelona and he reached the final at Stuttgart last year where he beat Guillermo Canas. Wawrinka looks like a good bet to win this event.

Andreas Seppi reached the final last year and Ivo Karlovic has never done much in this part of the ATP calendar, so Seppi should get to the semifinals. And he’s 3-0 over Wawrinka with two of those wins on clay. It’s tough to pick between Wawrinka and Seppi because I like to favor head to head records and Seppi also has a semifinal at Hamburg this year, but those wins over Wawrinka were 2006 and earlier and Wawrinka has worked his way into the top ten, so I’ll give him the edge over Seppi.

In the next quarter, there’s another problem for Wawrinka. Nicolas Kiefer beat him in straight sets in Hamburg. But neither Kiefer nor Mikhail Youzhny has played much on clay this year so I’m picking my second player from the bottom quarter.

This is the fourth straight week that Mathieu and Marin Cilic will play each other. Mathieu lost two of the last three matches on grass and he beat Cilic on clay in Munich, though it took three sets. I’m concerned enough about this matchup to pick Igor Andreev even though Mathieu won this event last year. Mathieu isn’t doing well on clay and Andreev isn’t doing a whole lot better, but he has some quality wins and Mathieu doesn’t. And Andreev reached the semifinals here last year.

I’m picking Wawrinka and Andreev.


Ferrer is the defending champion but Robin Soderling has a 4-1 record over him. They’re 1-1 on clay and Ferrer is the better clay court payer. It looks to me like Ferrer can win this tournament again but it’s not worth wasting him here because he can make much more prize money at the U.S. Open and one of the fall Masters events.

Jarkko Nieminen is having a terrible year on clay so let’s look at Ernests Gulbis and Tommy Robredo. Gulbis beat Robredo on hard court at the U.S. Open last year and he reached the quarterfinals of the French Open (though he didn’t beat any big names to get there). Robredo is 19-7 on clay while Gulbis is 6-5 so Robredo should get to the semifinals where he’ll lose to Ferrer who has beaten him twice this year.

Carlos Moya lost in the first round of the French Open and that’s the fifth time this year he’s done that in a clay event. Tomas Berdych hasn’t played well since coming back from injury and Marat Safin has beaten him twice this year on clay. Except for a quarterfinal at Valencia, Potito Starace hasn’t gone past the second round in a clay event, so Safin has a good chance to reach the semifinals.

The bottom quarter has two wildcards ranked below 300 so Gael Monfils, who beat Fernando Verdasco in Monte Carlo this year and is 2-0 over both Filippo Volandri and Marat Safin, is a good bet to reach the final and he just beat Ferrer at the French Open.

I’m taking Robredo and Monfils.


Mardy Fish reached the third round at Queen’s Club on grass before retiring. He lost in the first round at the French Open to Richard Gasquet but there’s not much shame in that. Prakash Amritraj reached the quarterfinals here last year but it’s doubtful that he’ll get past Joseph Sirianni.

Frank Dancevic should be able to take out Taylor Dent who is making his first ATP appearance since 2006. Dancevic won the grass challenger at Surbiton and beat David Nalbandian at Wimbledon but I don’t think he can beat Fish.

Nicolas Mahut and Vince Spadea look the most promising in the third quarter. Spadea has reached two quarterfinals and a final here and Mahut reached the final last year. I think Mahut can take out Spadea this year but both of them would probably lose to Fabrice Santoro who is in the bottom quarter and beat Mahut to win this event last year.

I don’t think Santoro can repeat and I only need one player from this draw so I’m picking Fish.


My picks this week are: Kohlschreiber, Almagro, Gasquet, Wawrinka, Andreev, Robredo, Monfils, and Fish.

Happy fantasies!

Things People Say: Gimelstob, Jaeger, and Carlos

Justin Gimelstob, Andrea Jaeger, and John Carlos all shot their mouths off when they should have known better.

One way to explain it is to say that Justin Gimelstob had a meltdown. During an appearance on a Washington based radio show a few weeks ago, he called Anna Kournikova a “bitch” and a “douche.” Actually, let’s get the full impact of his comments about Kournikova, shall we? Here’s a start. When asked if he hated Kournikova, Gimelstob said:

Hate’s a very strong word, I just despise her to the maximum level, right below hate. I think she falls into the Marcelo Rios ‘Scumbag’ category….And this whole bluff about her retiring because of her back? She had the yips on her serve, she can’t get her serve on the court. Wait until you see on July 23, she’s gonna be serving 40 miles an hour and I’m gonna be just plugging it down her throat….We do exhibitions together and I’ll mock her, and make fun of her. I’ll just make her know that she’s stupid.

(Gimelstob’s team will play Kournikova’s team in a World Team Tennis match on July 23rd.)

When asked if he’d date Kournikova he said:

Definitely not. I have no attraction to her because she’s such a douche. I really have no interest in her … I wouldn’t mind having my younger brother, who’s a kind of a stud, nail her and then reap the benefits of that.

As soon as I picked my jaw up off the floor, my first thought was, Why does Gimelstob hate Kournikova so much? He wants to shove a ball down her throat and get a surrogate to “nail” her. He may have been referring to sex, but the image of stud and nail sounds more like rape.

I think the root of Gimelstob’s vitriol is a deep insecurity because here’s the thing: Kournikova’s career was more successful than Gimelstob’s. Neither player won a singles title, Kournikova reached four singles finals to Gimelstob’s one singles final, Kournikova has 16 doubles titles to Gimelstob’s 13, and two of Kournikova’s doubles titles are slams. I think Gimelstob is afraid that he’s another pretty face who didn’t do much in his career and his already low opinion of women is challenged by Kournikova’s popularity.

What bothers me most about this situation is the tacit approval of Gimelstob by the ATP. Officials of the ATP issued a statement decrying Gimelstob’s comments. but they accepted his apology as an adequate correction to his actions. This is how they put it:

However, he has done the right thing in taking full responsibility for his comments by apologising publicly to Anna for what he has rightly described as his disappointing and disrespectful comments.

Justin Gimelstob is on the board of directors of the ATP, people, and he still has his job. It’s not just the officials of the ATP either. Gimelstob was voted onto the board of directors by the ten member Player Council and those players haven’t removed him. And that leads me to believe that Gimelstob didn’t have a meltdown at all.

Gimelstob was sitting around with his friends The Junkies at the radio station that day (check out that link by the way to see what The Junkies think of women) much as he might sit around with his buds on a Friday night. And much as he might sit around an ATP locker room talking about women with his pro tennis buds.

And that’s the scariest part of all. Not just that this might have been normal behavior for Gimelstob, but it might be normal behavior for other players too.

Gimelstob wasn’t the only former tennis player to open his mouth when he shouldn’t have. In a Daily Mail article titled, Why I became a nun, by former tennis star Andrea Jaeger, Andrea Jaeger tells us that she threw her 1983 Wimbledon final against Martina Navratilova.

In the early 1980’s, Jaeger was a bright young tennis star with an abusive and demanding father for a coach. By the age of 16 she was the number two player in the world but her heart wasn’t in it. According to Jaeger, after she beat Wendy Turnbull, Turnbull pulled out a bottle of wine and asked Jaeger for a corkscrew. Jaeger decided that she’d driven the poor lady to drink and from that point forward, she tried her best to lose to Turnbull whenever they played. Not only that, but she did her best to beat anyone who had the audacity to beat Turnbull. She became, as it were, Turnbull’s unspoken protector.

Her semifinal opponent at Wimbledon in 1983, Billie Jean King, had beaten Turnbull in the previous round and that, Jaeger says, was one of the reasons she trounced King 6-1, 6-1. The final with Navratilova was next but not until a bit of drama intervened.

Jaeger had a bad fight with her father the afternoon before the final and she fled the house she was sharing with him. She went next door to Navratilova’s house and pounded on the door till someone let her in and helped her find a taxi. According to Jaeger:

Martina was sitting in the living room. She glanced round at me briefly with a look on her face to say that I’d interrupted her preparation for the final. She stayed seated and didn’t look at me again.

I’m not buying it. A brief, unspoken glance from your opponent the night before the match doesn’t qualify as motivation for throwing a match. And that’s poor nunnery, anyway. The goal of a spiritual practice is to renounce the fruits of your labor, not crow about them 25 years later and take away what you supposedly gave, in all your goodness, to your opponent. Saying that you threw the match is tantamount to taking a Wimbledon title away from Martina because that means she didn’t win it on her own merit.

I’m not saying that Jaeger didn’t throw the match, but Turnbull had a 7-4 record over Jaeger after the wine bottle incident and that certainly doesn’t support Jaeger’s assertion that she did her best to lose to Turnbull. Memory does strange things and in Jaeger’s case, she’s seems to have refigured the past as an act of giving rather than the act of an angry, confused young woman who had major problems with an overbearing father.

In last week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, John Carlos does a similar bit of manipulation but for a different reason. Tommie Smith and Carlos were the two brave men who lowered their heads and raised their black-gloved fists in the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico after they’d taken the gold and bronze medals in the 200 meter race.

Carlos now claims he threw the race even though he’d pulled a leg muscle in the semifinal heat and Smith won the race in a world record time that stood for eleven years. Carlos also claims that the symbolic and enduring protest was his idea while Smith says it was his. We don’t know whose idea it was – and who cares? – but how desperate must you be for a bigger slice of history if you need to play “I didn’t lose, I let you win” after losing to your friend and opponent in a world record time?

Don’t get me wrong, I revise the past all the time. When my sisters come out to visit me every year, I often finish recounting a memory only to hear them say, in unison, “You’re totally wrong, that never happened.” We all do it. We create a past that fits our current image of ourselves. I’m writing an article that has a few memories of my father at the moment, but I’ll run it past my family before I publish it and I wish Jaeger had run her thoughts past Turnbull and Navratilova before she spoke. As for Carlos and Smith, it’s probably too late to do anything.

ATP Fantasy Picks for Kitzbuhel, Amersfoort, Umag, and Indianapolis

It’s time for the ATP Fantasy Tennis Season so check out our Fantasy Tennis Guide. You’ll find Fast Facts, Strategies, and Statistics to help you play the game.

Sign up and join our subleague! It’s called We send weekly email updates to all subleague members before the submission deadline.

This week’s submission deadline is Monday morning, July 14, 4am (EST) in the U.S./10am (CET) in Europe.

The European clay court season finally comes to an end this week with three tournaments and the North American hard court season starts up with Indianapolis. Yes, we have four tournaments again this week.

Kitzbuhel (clay, first prize: $180,000)
Amersfoort (clay, first prize: $83,461)
Umag (clay, first prize: $83,461)
Indianapolis (hard court, $83,500)

As you can see, Kitzbuhel is paying more than twice as much as the other three tournaments. We need eight players for our fantasy team and after looking at the draws, I’m going to pick three players from the Kitzbuhel draw, two each from Amersfoort and Umag, and one from Indianapolis.


We need three players from this draw and the top half of the draw is loaded with good players so I’m taking two from the top half and one from the bottom half.

In the first quarter, Andreas Seppi reached the quarterfinals here last year and so did Sergio Roitman. Juan Martin Del Potro reached the quarterfinals two years ago. Seppi looks like the premier player with a semifinal at Hamburg and a quarterfinal at Poertschach, but he lost to the 162nd ranked player in the first round this week. And his first opponent is Nicolas Devilder who is killing the challenger circuit on clay. Roitman is having a bad year. Seppi beat Del Potro in their only meeting and Del Potro is in the Stuttgart final this week and I don’t trust him to do well at two events in a row. I’m picking Seppi to come out of this quarter.

The second quarter is even worse because Agustin Calleri reached the semifinals here last year and won it the year before, and he reached the semifinals at Stuttgart this week. However, his first round opponent, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, reached the semifinals this week too – in Gstaad. Victor Hanescu, who hasn’t done anything all year, is in the final at Gstaad where he will meet Pablo Andujar. Calleri has the best results this year and he has the best record here so I expect him to come out of this quarter.

As for the bottom half, Eduardo Schwank and Potito Starace are the only players of note in the third quarter. Starace reached the final last year but he’s had a disappointing year. He did beat Carlos Moya and Marat Safin to get to the quarterfinals at Bastad this week but Schwank beat Moya too and Schwank has beaten some players this year that Starace has lost to. So I’d love to pick Schwank but he’s not eligible because his ranking was higher than 100 when the fantasy season started.

Rainer Schuettler is the second seed and he’s in the bottom quarter, but he’s 1-5 on clay this year and Jurgen Melzer has a losing record on clay. I’m picking Starace in the bottom half of the draw and crossing my fingers.


The top seed in this event is 48th ranked Marc Gicquel and he has a losing record on clay this year. Gicquel lost to Steve Darcis last year in the first round and Darcis went on to win this tournament. Both Darcis and Gicquel are in the top half of the draw and this is very hard to pick.

Darcis is an enigma. He beat Gilles Simon, Igor Andreev, and Mikhil Youzhny on the way to the title last year and he also won the title in Memphis this year on indoor hard court by beating Robin Soderling. Beyond that, he’s never been past the second round of an ATP event and after going 6-1 on clay last year, he’s 3-6 this year. Florent Serra reached the quarterfinals here last year and he has a better record than Gicquel or Darcis on clay, so I’m picking Serra in the top half of the draw.

In the bottom half, Albert Montanes has beaten Kristof Vliegen, Santiago Ventura, Marcel Granollers, and Jose Acasuso on clay this year – Acasuso twice – so he’s my pick for the bottom half.


Fernando Verdasco is the top seed and he looks like the overwhelming favorite. He’s had two semifinals and a final here in the past four years and he has two wildcards and a qualifier in his quarter.

Other than a quarterfinal at Hamburg, Carlos Moya hasn’t gone past the first round at a clay event since February, and there isn’t much else in the second quarter so Verdasco is my pick for the top half.

In the third quarter, it’s very hard to pick between Guillermo Canas and Igor Andreev. Canas has been playing well lately with a quarterfinal in his last two clay events and a semifinal at s’Hertogenbosch on grass, but his opponents have been weak. Andreev reached the quarterfinals at Gstaad this week over stronger competition and he’s beaten some strong players on clay this year, so I think he’ll come out of this quarter.

Ivan Ljubicic reached the fourth round at the French Open and the final at Poertschach but, except for a five set victory over Nikolay Davydenko, he hasn’t beaten anyone of note. Ivo Karlovic is in this quarter and he has victories over Tommy Robredo and Paul-Henri Mathieu on clay this year so I’m not sure who’ll come out of this quarter. Therefore, I’m picking Andreev for the bottom half.


Indianapolis is very consistent. Half of the top eight seeds have reached the quarterfinals in each of the past five years. Speaking of that, I’d like to pick Frank Dancevic because he’s unseeded and he reached the final here last year. But he lost to Dmitry Tursunov in that final – Tursunov is in this draw – and he just lost to Bobby Reynolds at Wimbledon and Reynolds could be his second round opponent.

Sam Querrey is in the bottom half of this draw and he reached the semifinals last year by beating James Blake, the top seed, but Tommy Haas is also in the bottom half and he beat Querrey three times last year, two on hard court. You never know when Haas’ troublesome shoulder will break down but he did just get to the third round at Wimbledon, and he got to the quarterfinals at Indian Wells, so I have to pick him to come out of the bottom half of the draw.

Blake has reached the quarterfinals or better in every hard court event he’s played this year and that includes Miami, Indian Wells, and the Australian Open, so it’s hard not to pick him to reach the final. But should you waste him in a small tournament with low prize money? I’ve only picked Blake once this year so I have four picks left. Last year he won the title at New Haven, reached the final at Cincinnati, and the fourth round at the U.S. Open. He also does very well at Stockholm which pays good money so I’m saving him.

I’m picking Haas in this draw.


My picks this week are Seppi, Calleri, Starace, Serra, Montanes, Verdasco, Andreev, and Haas.

Happy Fantasies!