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Pay attention, the deadline for picking your team this week is SUNDAY, August 19, 10am EST, 4pm CET.
Rear View Mirror – a look at last week’s picks
Awful. Just awful. One for seven and that’s if Roger Federer makes it to the final and he’s looked shaky all week. Despite my concerns, James Blake’s abdominal pull was not a problem and Nikolay Davydenko is in the semifinals with that stress fracture in his foot. What’s his explanation for retiring due to foot pain in Sopot on clay then getting to the quarterfinals and better in two straight hard court tournaments where the court must have felt like hot coals in the 99F° / 37C° weather?
On the other hand, who knew that Novak Djokovic would run out of gas and Rafael Nadal would lose temporary use of his left forearm?
Alright then, forward and upward. Let’s head into the last tune-up before the U.S. Open and see which eight players we can pick out. By the way, watch out for Mario Ancic because he’s in the qualifying tournament. Take a quick peak at the final draw before you submit your team to see where he is if he makes it through qualifying.
New Haven (hard court, first prize: $84,000)
Nikolay Davydenko’s Quarter
Davydenko actually won this thing last year. Amer Delic is his first opponent and Delic beat him in their only meeting at Miami but that was Delic’s only good result of the year.
Nicolas Almagro is here and up until last week I’d have called him a clay court specialist. But then he got to the quarterfinals at Cincinnati and took a set off Roger Federer. Still, he’s won only two other matches on hard court this year so I have no confidence in him yet.
Paul-Henri Mathieu is 0-2 against his first opponent, Nicolas Lapentti, but one of those matches was on clay and the other was on hard court in 2001. Plus Lapentti has exactly one win on hard court this year so I’m going with Mathieu.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is a bit of a dark-horse. He’s been tearing up the challenger circuit on hard court and got to the fourth round at Wimbledon. He’s actually ranked higher than Juan Martin Del Potro but untested on hard court in the big leagues. If you were wild and crazy, you could pick him.
James Blake’s Quarter
This is James Blake’s home tournament, he lives in Connecticut. He won here in 2005 and has a pretty easy draw. Be sure to save him for the U.S. Open and at least one of the fall indoor tournaments. He’s won Stockholm both times he’s entered and that pays over $132,000.
Jarkko Nieminen is 3-0 over Feliciano Lopez and 2-0 over Fernando Verdasco so I’m going with him.
David Ferrer’s Quarter
Wow, David Ferrer is 17-5 on hard court this year which is the sixth best record on tour. I missed that last week. Maybe that’s why he got to the quarterfinals in Cincinnati. He beat Igor Andreev here two years ago so I’m picking him.
Clay court specialist Potito Starace is putting in a token appearance before the U.S. Open. He took the title at a clay court challenger in San Marino instead of playing Montreal even though he’s ranked number 30 in the world. That’s called thumbing your nose at hard courts because Masters Series events are supposed to be required attendance.
This court is pretty fast so Ivo Karlovic pops out. Starace certainly won’t beat him and Thomas Johansson is unlikely to break his serve.
Tommy Robredo’s Quarter
This will be Tommy Robredo’s tenth tournament in a row. He extended his clay court season to get a clay court victory in Sopot but then lost his first match at Montreal and Cincinnati. Marc Gicquel has awful hard court results and lost to Gael Monfils here last year so the question is: can Monfils beat Robredo? I’m going with Monfils because he’s rested and he got to the semifinals in Washington.
The other part of this quarter is hopeless. Dominik Hrbaty is the only one with a hard court victory this summer and one of those victories was a win over Robredo so he gets the pick.
Here’s my team: Davydenko, Mathieu, Blake, Nieminen, Karlovic, Ferrer, Hrbaty, Monfils.
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