This week’s submission deadline is Monday morning, June 9, 4am (EST) in the U.S./10am (CET) in Europe.
The grass season is upon us but some people are still hanging onto clay. We have grass in Halle and London/Queen’s Club, and clay in Warsaw. Halle and Queen’s are both paying more prize money than Warsaw and they both have higher ranked players, so let’s pick three players each from Halle and Queen’s and two from Warsaw to make up our eight player team.
Because Halle and Queen’s attract the top players, the draw is more predictable than Warsaw, a smaller tournament with lower ranked players. Twice in the past five years, six seeded players have reached the quarterfinals at Queen’s and Halle averages between four and five seeded players in its quarterfinals.
Roger Federer has won the title in Halle four of the past five years (he withdrew last year) but you should obviously save him for Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. There are also four Masters events left to play so save him for one or two of those also..
Below Federer’s quarter, Mikhail Youzhny reached the quarterfinals here last year but his first opponent is Dmitry Tursunov who reached the semifinals in two of his grass events last year and beat Youzhny on carpet the only time they met. I’m going with Tursunov.
The next quarter is exceptionally tough to pick. Radek Stepanek is a good grass court player but he faces Tommy Haas in the first round. Haas is an even better grass court player but he’s been injured and Stepanek beat him three times last year. Philipp Kohlschreiber reached the semifinals here last year but Tomas Berdych is also in this quarter and won this tournament last, but he’s recovering from injury too. Stepanek is having the best year so I’m going with him.
James Blake should be able to get to the semifinals and I’m taking him because I can still use him for both summer Masters events, the U.S. Open, and Stockholm. He always does well at the smaller hard court summer events but a semifinal here pays as much as a final at any of those tournaments so I’m taking him here.
Rafael Nadal has reached the quarterfinals at Queen’s for the past two years but obviously you should save him for bigger tournaments. Is there someone in his quarter who can reach the semifinals or final? There’s no sure thing because Ivo Karlovic beat Fernando Gonzalez on grass here last year and those are the two best grass court players left.
Andy Roddick is in the next quarter and he’s won this title four of the last five years but should you use him here? Probably. You can still pick him for Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and one of the summers Masters events and that still leaves you one more event in the fall.
In David Nalbandian’s quarter I’m going to skip over Nalbandian and Richard Gasquet because Nalbandian has lost in the first round here both times he’s appeared and Gasquet has a few problems: the past few years he’s lost early in his first grass tournament of the year and he’s been suffering through a confidence crisis so let’s look at Mario Ancic and Nicolas Mahut instead. Ancic beat Mahut on carpet earlier this year so I’m going with Ancic.
Novak Djokovic is likely to win his quarter but you should save him for Wimbledon, one or two of the remaining Masters events, and the U.S. Open, so let’s see who’ll meet up with him in the quarterfinals. Marin Cilic reached the quarterfinals last year but hasn’t done much else and that leaves us with Lleyton Hewitt and Paul-Henri Mathieu. Hewitt has a much better record here but Mathieu’s game is improving and Hewitt has been struggling due to a long term hip injury so I’m going with Mathieu.
I’ve picked six players so I need two players from Warsaw to complete my team.
If there’s a clay court tournament somewhere in the world, Nikolay Davydenko is sure to be there and he’s in the draw at Warsaw. I used him for clay court Masters events so I’m saving him for the U.S. Open and Moscow. He’s won the title in Moscow three of the past four years and it pays a lot of money.
In the quarter below Davydenko, Gilles Simon has a winning record over everyone in his quarter except for Guillermo Canas – they’re even at 1-1. Canas has lost his last six matches on clay so I’m going with Simon.
Tommy Robredo is 4-0 over Albert Montanes on clay and beat him in Valencia this year so he’ll probably get out of the bottom quarter. If he meets Juan Monaco in the semifinals that’s a tough choice. Monaco beat Robredo in Kitzbuhel last year in their only meeting but Robredo has better results in the bigger events this year so I’m picking Robredo.
Here are my picks for this week: Tursunov, Stepanek, Blake, Roddick, Ancic, Mathieu, Simon, and Robredo.