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The deadline for picking your team this week is Monday morning: 1am in Los Angeles/4am in New York/9am in London. Make you picks before you go to bed Sunday night.
Rear View Mirror – a look at last week’s picks
I picked two of the three winners and jumped from number 53 to number 14 in the standings. Remember, though, that I took Novak Djokovic and the sure $183, 000 in Vienna so I may pay for that in Madrid and Paris because I can’t pick him any more.
This is a huge week because Madrid is a Masters Series event with lots of points and there are a number of players who can still qualify for the year end championships – only the top eight players qualify. It’ll be too late for most people by the time the Paris Masters rolls around in two weeks.
We need eight players so let’s pick the top two players in each quarter of the draw – in other words, the quarterfinalists.
Madrid (indoor hard, first prize: $468, 860)
Roger Federer’s Quarter
I still have one Federer left so I’m picking him because he’s 10-2 here and he won last year.
Now I have the toughest pick in the draw. David Ferrer is on fire but he has a losing career record indoors. He got to the quarterfinals in Madrid two years ago but he beat clay court players to get there. Also, Feliciano Lopez is in his part of the draw and he beat Ferrer in Stockholm last year.
Ivan Ljubicic has a clear path to the third round so I’m picking him.
Nikolay Davydenko’s Quarter
Nikolay Davydenko has never gone past the third round in Madrid and he could meet Ivo Karlovic in his first match if Karlovic can get past Marat Safin. I can only use Davydenko one more time so I’m saving him for Paris which he won last year.
Safin got to the quarterfinals in Madrid last year and won it the year before. On the other hand, Karlovic is 11-3 on indoor hard court this year and he won the title in Vienna. Safin has been playing so badly this year that I have to go with Karlovic.
I’m ignoring Mikhail Youzhny and Stanislaw Wawrinka because Youzhny has lost in the first round in Madrid the past three years and Wawrinka has never played Madrid and hasn’t done well in Paris.
Tommy Haas got to the semifinals in Stockholm last week and he has an 11-2 record on hard court this year, but he’s never been past the third round in Madrid. I can only use him one more time so I’m saving him for Paris where he got to the semifinals last year.
The question in this part of the draw is whether we can count on Fernando Gonzalez to turn up. He got to the final here last year but he’s still up and down this year. What the hell, he doesn’t do well in Paris and I can only use him one more time so I’m going with Gonzalez.
Novak Djokovic’s Quarter
I’m in trouble here because I’ve used Djokovic up and James Blake is 0-3 in Madrid.
I’ll have to choose between Richard Gasquet and Paul-Henri Mathieu to get my first pick in this section. Gasquet is 3-0 over Mathieu so I’m taking Gasquet.
Carlos Moya has one victory indoors in the last two years and Juan Carlos Ferrero got to the semifinals in Vienna so I’m taking Ferrero who will only get to the third round before he loses to Djokovic.
Rafael Nadal’s Quarter
I used up all my Rafael Nadal picks on the clay and hard court season.
David Nalbandian reached the semifinals the past two years but he’s playing badly. I’m picking Tomas Berdych over Tommy Robredo because Robredo hasn’t gone past the third round the past two years.
Assuming Marcos Baghdatis continues to flounder, the tough pick is between Andy Murray and Radek Stepanek who unfortunately meet in the first round. Murray beat Stepanek on grass in their only meeting and Murray’s record indoors is far better so I’m picking him.
Here’s my team: Federer, Ljubicic, Karlovic, Gonzalez, Gasquet, Ferrero, Berdych, Murray.
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