Pay attention! This week’s submission deadline is Sunday evening, September 21, 9pm (EST) in the U.S/Monday morning, September 22, 3am (CET) in Europe.
We have two tournaments in Asia this week in Bangkok and Beijing. The prize money is similar in both tournaments and we need eight players for our fantasy team so let’s pick the quarterfinalists in each event.
Bangkok draw (hard court, first prize: $94,000)
Beijing draw (indoor hard court, first prize: $85,000)
Sorry to be late with the Bangkok picks but time difference and weekend partying got in the way. Bangkok didn’t get its draw out until yesterday evening west coast time in the US, and by that time the party at my house had started and didn’t end until 3am. So here I am the morning after, surrounded by empty beer bottles and potato chip crumbs but, more or less, ready to go.
Novak Djokovic is the number one seed in Bangkok but most people have used him five times already this season and can’t use him again. If you can still use him, save him for one of the two remaining Masters Series events left on the schedule. Robin Soderling is a good second choice. He’s 10-3 on indoor hard court this year which ain’t bad at all.
Novak’s brother Marko is in the second quarter. Since he’s currently ranked 1728, I’m guessing his wild card came along with Novak’s appearance fee. Nicolas Mahut just won a challenger on indoor hard court and he reached the quarterfinals here last year, so he could beat Jarkko Nieminen. But Tomas Berdych is 3-0 over Nieminen lifetime and Berdych beat him in Canada this summer. Berdych also reached the semifinals here last year so he’s my pick.
In the third quarter, Marat Safin, Mischa Zverev, and Gael Monfils are eligible for our fantasy team and it’s tough to pick between them. Safin used to be a very good indoor hard court player but he’s not doing well this year. Monfils hasn’t won a match indoors since 2005 but he’s only played in four indoor events over that period. Zverev plays well indoors and he did reach the quarterfinals at Rotterdam as a qualifier this year, but most of his results indoors have been in challengers. I’m picking Zverev because he reached the quarterfinals here two years ago as a qualifier and he has a better record indoors this year.
Benjamin Becker reached the final here last year but he just lost in the first round in an indoor challenger. Fabrice Santoro’s best results indoors lately have been in challengers. Jurgen Melzer is having a good year – he’s reached three quarterfinals and a final, but he hasn’t gone past the second round indoors in the past year while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had a quarterfinal and semifinal indoors last fall so I’m going with Tsonga.
It seems like only yesterday we were staying up all hours of the night to watch swimming and tennis and all sorts of other sports at the Beijing Olympics and here we are, back in Beijing again. This is a rare opportunity to compare performances on the same court only a few weeks apart.
The first person who pops up is Fernando Gonzalez and he’s in the third quarter of this draw. He won this event last year and he reached the final at the Olympics. Gonzalez beat Sam Querrey, the main competition in his quarter, in their only meeting but that doesn’t mean much because Querrey had just joined the tour. Both players reached the fourth round at the US Open but I’m picking Gonzalez because Querrey lost in the first round at the Olympics.
David Ferrer is the top seed and he has Tommy Robredo in his quarter. Robredo lost in the final here last year. This is actually a tough match to pick because Robredo has a losing record on hard court this year but he reached the fourth round at the US Open. Ferrer got to the third round at the US Open and both players lost in the first round at the Olympics. Ferrer beat Robredo in their only hard court meeting last year but I can only use Ferrer one more time so I’m saving him for Tokyo – which he won last year – or Paris. Robredo it is.
Yen-Hsun Lu is in the second quarter and he beat Andy Murray at the Olympics and made it to the third round. Murray was probably tired and we can’t pick Lu anyway because he wasn’t in the top 100 when the fantasy season started. Richard Gasquet has been all over the place this year. He barely has a winning record on clay and isn’t much better on hard court. He didn’t go to the Olympics and he lost in the first round at the US Open though his opponent, Tommy Haas, is a very tough player. Rainer Schuettler is here too but he’s never gone past the second round in five tried in Beijing and he’s only 3-7 on hard court this year.
This is tough luck for me because I’ve used up all my Gasquets so I’m going to have to pick Schuettler. Should you pick Gasquet if you have him? He could get to the final but he’s not likely to win this event because Gonzalez and Andy Roddick are in the bottom half and Robredo, who is in his half, beat him the last two times they met on hard court. Gasquet reached the final in Tokyo last year – which pays more than this event – and he reached the semifinals in the Masters event in Paris so I’d consider keeping him for an event where he can make more money.
Fernando Verdasco, Juan Carlos Ferrero, and Andy Roddick are in the bottom quarter. There’s lots of star power here for what is a low paying event in the fall schedule. I have one more Roddick left but should I use him? He hasn’t lost to Fernando Verdasco since 2005, he’s 4-0 over Juan Carlos Ferrero, and he just beat Gonzalez in straight sets at the US Open so he should get to the final. Curiously, he’s only 2-3 against Ferrer on hard court but he’s 8-0 over Robredo. He said he was going to play four events this fall but he seldom plays more than two so I’m getting my money while I can.
My picks are: Soderling, Berdych, Zverev, Tsonga, Robredo, Schuettler, Gonzalez, Roddick.