Monthly Archives: July 30, 2021

…in my virtual tournament Andy Roddick would beat Roger Federer just once so that he can regain a bit of his Federer confidence.


Tennis-x.com reports that IBM “has built a three dimensional facsimile of the Melbourne Tennis Centre complex inside a virtual world called Second Life. Over the duration of the two week tournament, data will be fed from games in the real Rod Laver Arena into the unreal one, nanoseconds after [it] happens.”

Wrap your head around this concept because IBM is creating a virtual Australian Open using the actual trajectory of the ball as it appears in the real matches in the tournament. The players will look and act like athletes in sports video games. In the future, instead of paying extra for that sports package so you can get The Tennis Channel, you’ll be able to log on to a virtual version. The virtual version might be free – if you don’t want to buy land, you can troll around Second Life without paying – but I also suspect that every free pixel would be plastered with advertising.

Second Life is a virtual universe with avatars that represent your body in virtual space. Your avatar can own land, create objects, attend virtual concerts and even work as a pole dancer and earn a few Linden dollars – virtual currency. Last year I gave the winner of our ATP fantasy subleague a pair of virtual tennis shoes from Second Life because we had no budget for the leather version.

I actually have an avatar on Second Life named Imriel after the character in Jacqueline Carey’s book Kushiel’s Scion, part of the Imriel Trilogy. If I ever get 48 hours in a day instead of 24, I want to build a virtual tennis world on Second Life. If I build my own virtual tennis tournament, what might it look like? First of all, in my tournament Andy Roddick would beat Roger Federer just once so that he can regain a bit of his Federer confidence.

Wait a minute! It happened. In the real world. Well, almost the real world. Roddick beat Federer in the Kooyong final this week but it’s an exhibition so it doesn’t count in the ATP world.

The virtual version of the Open starts Monday as does the real version. Meanwhile, let’s look at my version of the Open.

Lleyton Hewiit is injured again and his coach Roger Rasheed has abandoned him. Hewitt was evidently abusive to the members of his box during his loss to Igor Kunitsyn at Adelaide and Rasheed quit soon after. But Hewitt is often abusive when he’s on the court so it’s possible that Rasheed is unhappy with Hewitt’s conditioning or maybe he’s deserting a sinking ship. Rasheed’s public announcement of his split with Hewitt sounded like a job application for the next vacant coaching spot on tour. I have Hewitt through to the third round if that.

Rafael Nadal gets Robert Kendrick in the first round. That’s the same Kendrick who had Nadal down two sets to none at Wimbledon last year by relentlessly attacking the net. If the courts are fast enough it could be an exciting match. Nadal retired in the first round at Sydney with a groin pull or a hamstring pull of whatever it was. Does one go with the other? If Nadal gets as far a meeting with Andy Murray in the fourth round, I think he loses it. Murray and Nadal have never met before.

Marcos Baghdatis and Gael Monfils could be a very entertaining match in the second round. Two very emotional, very athletic players will be going at it for four or five sets. Monfils hasn’t been consistent enough yet but one day he’s going to set a slam on fire. The third round could be the same thing because Richard Gasquet might be there. Baghdatis and Gasquet have also never met before even though Baghdatis has been on the tour for three years and Gasquet for four. I have Baggy getting through both matches but just barely. He won’t get past Tommy Robredo in the fourth round.

Gaston Gaudio has a 5-2 record over Nikolay Davydenko but all five victories were on clay before 2006. I hope married life is better to Nikolay’s game than it has been to Lleyton Hewitt’s. I have Malisse over Davydenko if they meet in the fourth round.

David Nalbandian had a disappointing second half last year. I don’t know whether his abdominal strain bothered him or it was general malaise. Whatever it was, it’s continuing into the new year. He lost in the first round at Chennai two weeks ago then pulled out of Kooyong with tendonitis in his knee. He’ll lose to someone before the semifinals, probably to Tommy Haas in the quarterfinals.

James Blake will meet Carlos Moya in the first round after beating Moya in the final at Sydney last week. No contest – I hope – because I think this is the year that Blake finally wins a five set match. He’s currently 0-9 in five setters. His first big test will be Fernando Gonzalez in the fourth round and here’s where he’ll need that five setter. I think he gets it. In fact, I think he gets all the way to the final where he loses to… see below.

Roddick has a pretty good road to the semifinals where he should meet Federer. Marco Chiudinelli grew up playing tennis with Federer. He said that he always beat Federer in practice but Federer always beat him in tournaments – which is where it really counts. That’s how it’ll be this time. Kooyong was practice, the semis will be for real.

Zero Counter: each week we add up the number of matches between players who’ve never met before. We’re making two points here. First of all, if players never meet, how can there be rivalries? The closest thing to a rivalry on the ATP tour is Federer-Nadal and that’s dormant at the moment. Second, when there are two or three tournaments every week in far flung places, fans seldom get to see the top players in one place. This week is an exception because it’s a slam, but 28 out of the 127 matches in my version of the draw feature matches between players who’ve never met before. That’s 22%. Way too high.

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Australian Open 2007 (names in blue are my picks)
Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Quarterfinals

1. Federer
2. Phau
3. Bjorkman
4. Patience
5. Greul
6. Lu
7. Hernych
8. Youzhny
9. Ferrero
10.Hajek
11.Udomchoke
12.Arguello
13.Lopez
14.qualifier
15.Massu
16.Djokovic
17.Baghdatis
18.Schuettler
19.Monfils
20.bracciali
21.Simon
22.Delic
23.Volandri
24.Gasquet
25.Acasuso
26.Querrey
27.Serra
28.Devilder
29.Karlovic
30.Melzer
31.Ram. Hidalgo
32.Robredo
Federer 
 
Bjorkman 
 
Greul 
 
Youzhny 
 
Ferrero 
 
Udomchoke 
 
Lopez 
 
Djokovic 
 
Baghdatis 
 
Monfils 
 
Simon 
 
Gasquet 
 
Acasuso 
 
Serra 
 
Melzer 
 
Robredo
Federer 
 
 
 
Youzhny 
 
 
 
Ferrero 
 
 
 
Djokovic 
 
 
 
Baghdatis 
 
 
 
Gasquet 
 
 
 
Serra 
 
 
 
Robredo
Federer 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Djokovic 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Baghdatis 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Robredo
Federer 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Federer 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Robredo

33.Ljubicic
34.Fish
35.Mahut
36.Monaco
37.Koubek
38.Arthurs
39.qualifier
40.Calleri
41.Stepanek
42.Llodra
43.Dlouhy
44.qualifier
45.T. Johansson
46.qualifier
47.Pless
48.Ferrer
49.Ancic
50.Soeda
51.J. Johansson
52.Garcia-Lopez
53.Spadea
54.Andreev
55.Vanek
56.Hrbaty
57.Safin
58.Becker
59.qualifier
60.Srichaphan
61.Gicquel
62.Jones
63.Tsonga
64.Roddick
Ljubicic 
 
Monaco 
 
Koubek 
 
Calleri 
 
Stepanek 
 
Dlouhy 
 
T. Johansson 
 
Ferrer 
 
Ancic 
 
J. Johansson 
 
Andreev 
 
Hrbaty 
 
Safin 
 
Srichaphan 
 
Gicquel 
 
Roddick
Ljubicic 
 
 
 
Calleri 
 
 
 
Stepanek 
 
 
 
Ferrer 
 
 
 
Ancic 
 
 
 
Hrbaty 
 
 
 
Safin 
 
 
 
Roddick
Ljubicic 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ferrer 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ancic 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Roddick
Ljubicic 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Roddick 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Roddick

65.Nalbandian
66.Tipsarevic
67. qualifier
68.Lapentti
69.Guccione
70.O. Rochus
71.C. Rochus
72.Grosjean
73.Soderling
74.Mayer
75.seppi
76. qualifier
77. qualifier
78. qualifier
79.Montanes
80.Haas
81.Berdych
82.Lee
83. qualifier
84.Smeets
85.mirnyi
86.Horna
87. qualifier
88.Tursunov
89.Malisse
90.Clement
91.Santoro
92.Kunitsyn
93..Muller
94.Gaudio
95.Roitman
96.Davydenko
Nalbandian 
 
qualifier 
 
O. Rochus 
 
Grosjean 
 
Soderling 
 
Seppi 
 
qualifier 
 
Haas 
 
Berdych  
 
Smeets 
 
Mirnyi 
 
Tursunov 
 
Malisse 
 
Santoro 
 
Gaudio 
 
Davydenko
Nalbandian 
 
 
 
O. Rochus 
 
 
 
Soderling 
 
 
 
Haas 
 
 
 
Berdych 
 
 
 
Tursunov 
 
 
 
Malisse 
 
 
 
Davydenko
Nalbandian 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Haas 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Berdych 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Malisse
Haas 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Haas 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Malisse

97.Blake
98.Moya
99.Luczak
100. qualifier
101. qualifier
102. qualifier
103.Ginepri
104.Almagro
105.Hewitt
106. qualifier
107.Dancevic
108.Hanescu
109.del Potro
110.Di Mauro
111.Korolev
112.Gonzalez
113.Murray
114.Martin
115.Verdasco
116.Mathieu
117.Chela
118.Starace
119.Goldstein
120.Nieminen
121.Wawrinka
122.Kim
123.Benneteau
124.qualifier
125.Vliegen
126.Kohlschreiber
127.Kendrick
128.Nadal
Blake 
 
Luczak 
 
qualifer 
 
Ginepri 
 
Hewitt 
 
Dancevic 
 
Del Potro 
 
Gonzalez 
 
Murray 
 
Verdasco 
 
Chela 
 
Nieminen 
 
Wawrinka 
 
Benneteau 
 
Vliegen 
 
Nadal
Blake 
 
 
 
Ginepri 
 
 
 
Hewitt 
 
 
 
Gonzalez 
 
 
 
Murray 
 
 
 
Nieminen 
 
 
 
Benneteau 
 
 
 
Nadal
Blake 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Gonzalez 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Murray 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nadal
Blake 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Blake 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Murray

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The problem is that IMG now owns this venerable tennis magazine and also represents the two biggest celebrities in tennis: Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer.

I read the New York Times sports section (paper version) each morning. I don’t read my hometown LA Times sports section or the USA Today sports section and I seldom go onto ESPN.com. It’s pretty silly considering the New York Times print version is often a day late with sports news. When Ohio State played Florida in the BCS championship game last week, the paper at my doorstep the following morning had the opening kickoff touchdown run by Ted Ginn and that’s it, no final score and no review of the game. Evening games finish long after the Times runs its presses for the hard copy version of its publication. Yes I know I could read it online, but then I’d get milk and eggs all over my keyboard.

Why do I put up with this inconvenience? Here’s one reason: yesterday’s excellent, in depth article about Teddy Forstmann, the owner of the huge meda/sport corporation IMG. The tennis media world has been in an uproar since IMG bought Tennis Week, the well-respected tennis publication started by Gene Scott 32 years ago. Scott, a key figure in tennis as a publisher, author and tennis advocate, died of heart disease in April. The problem is that IMG now owns this venerable tennis magazine and also represents the two biggest celebrities in tennis: Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer.

The next time Maria Sharapova pulls out of Montreal citing exhaustion as she did last year, will Tennis Week write an in depth article noting that pullouts by top ten WTA players doubled over the previous year and fault Sharapova for putting herself before the game, or will it look more like this Maria fan blog and complain that she was “punished for the exhaustion that led to her withdrawal?”

Not that IMG doesn’t put itself before tennis, it does. Look at this quote from Forstmann in the Times article: “This is not a golf or tennis or media business. We work for the greater glory of IMG.” Let’s look at this quote for a minute. If ever there was a statement that the bottom line means more than the content responsible for that bottom line, I never read it.

Mark McCormack created IMG. He was an innovator in sports media management and he loved the sports he represented but he was a poor businessman. The Times article reports that the company was $200 million in debt when McCormack died in 2003. Forstmann isn’t a creator or an innovator; he buys companies that other people created, makes them profitable, then sells them.

It’s kind of like flipping houses. I just purchased a house that was built 45 years ago. The original builder sold the house to a woman who spent the last year fixing it up so she could sell it for a profit. Since I moved in two weeks ago the garbage disposal has broken, the kitchen drain has clogged twice, milk goes bad in the refrigerator and the telephone jack in the new addition doesn’t work.

Disclosure: I flip houses. In fact I have one on the market right now so I know what I’m talking about. I try to take care that when I sell a house everything works but clearly I don’t love it as much as the house I live in and that’s how it is with IMG. Forstmann’s goal is to sell IMG for much more money that he paid for it and that means increasing the value of his properties, Federer and Sharapova included. When Sharapova’s interests conflict with the WTA’s interests – when she pulls out of a high profile tournament for instance – IMG will conflict with the interests of tennis.

IMG is just another version of the megamerger multimedia companies already out there. It’s clients include Tiger Woods, football star Peyton Manning, the Grammys, violinist Itzhak Perlman and fashion model Elizabeth Hurley and it owns the IMG sports academies which include Nick Bollettieri’s tennis academy. Tennis Week could turn into the sports version of Time Magazine. When a movie shows up on the front page of Time Magazine, it’s just an advertisement for the latest release by a Time Warner owned film studio. You could call it an advertorial. Or it could turn into the sports version of The Oprah Magazine and alternate covers featuring Federer and Sharapova. That’s not likely but, for sure, the world now has one less independent media publication.

That’s another reason I like the New York Times, it owns itself. It has some of the megamerger thing happening: it owns the Boston Globe, has an interest in the Boston Red Sox, owns a number of regional newspapers, various websites and two radio stations – in fact most of its income is derived from assets other than its newspaper, but, as sad as that is, that’s independent by today’s standard.

Where is all the truly independent media? Let’s put it this way. If you work for an independent publication, you probably have a day job to pay the bills.

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Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 229 user reviews.

Listen up. Your intrepid tennis reporter – that’s me – will appear on the Fantasy Draft Help Insider radio show on Sports Talk Cleveland tonight at 9pm, Eastern Standard Time. We’ll be doing a serpentine draft (the draft order flips from round to round) of ATP and WTA players for the upcoming year. Each of us will choose two ATP and two WTA players and one wild card (from either tour) from four tiers of players.

Here’s another example of Roger Federer’s dominance. Whoever drafts him has to draft last in every subsequent round.

Drop a few comments. Who would you draft if you could only draft five players, two from each tour and a wild card?

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 194 user reviews.

The new season got under way last week and already we have a good sampling of what is likely to be the year in tennis: some really good-looking play, some rather surprising upsets, some lowly guys making good for a change, some stars taking it on the chin. And we didn’t even have the Number One male and female players present. Because they weren’t. Roger Federer won’t show up until next week in Melbourne for the start of the Aussie Open, although he is playing an exhibition this week in Kooyong with a lot of money involved. A bit of chastisement maybe in order here but then we would also need to extend it to Andy Roddick, David Nalbandian, Tommy Haas and a handful of other name players who chose to play Kooyong and ignore the scheduled tournaments.

Justine Henin-Hardenne has pulled out of the Aussie Open due to personal reasons. Rumors are flying that her marriage is heading even further south than Australia so she stayed home to work on things. Seems like Pierre-Yves may have wanted a wife instead of a tennis player. Someone should have told him. In film school I wrote scripts with a Swedish woman director who married a Frenchman. After several years it dawned on him that he didn’t have a wife, he had a film director. Someone should have told him too. They ended up divorcing amicably.

Lleyton Hewitt talked some big talk over the holiday but he couldn’t walk the walk. His coach Roger Rasheed could, though, and after Hewitt lost in surprising fashion to Igor Kunitsyn in Adelaide last week, Rasheed took a hike.

My personal great pleasure of this week was the arrival, finally, after much prodding, of The Tennis Channel in my neighborhood, in my house, dare I say, at long last. This disproves my theory that Martians would land before Comcast signed onto TTC. Comcast finally added it to their programming but it’s listed incorrectly as being in their two most popular packages. It is not. I had to sign up for a sports package but that was fine, it was seven dollars less. TTC repeats a lot of stuff rather endlessly, but the commentary of the matches is pleasantly restrained, even minimal. Patrick and Cliff, we love you guys at ESPN2, but sometimes silence is golden.

So, what did the Tennis Channel cough up this past week? Only half of the stuff I wanted to see: Adelaide (with Hewitt, Djokovic, Gasquet) and the women’s final from the Gold Coast event. Hewitt could not even get out of the round robin at Adelaide and Gasquet exited in the quarters at the hands of Australian lefty Chris Guccione. They call him “Penthouse, ” we hope, because he’s a giraffe of a guy at 6’7″ and not for pulling wild late nighters. He’s actually a mellow appearing guy with a rather easy, deceptively simple wind-up on his serve. Gasquet saw 22 aces fly off that racquet and, although Gasquet won the first set 6-1, Guccione came back and stunned the Frenchman by winning the next two. Suddenly the Aussie fans have a new hero to root for, given that their aging star Mark Philippoussis went out with more knee trouble and will be gone for a while.

We all hoped for a Hewitt-Gasquet final but we got Novak Djokovic against Guccione instead. At least the Serbian teenager was the number one seed. But you know what, this match was pretty entertaining and pretty good quality for what it was. Guccione got the crowd behind him and made it a close match with Djokovic who finally pulled it out in three sets, 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-4. He is now the youngest player in the Top 20.

The best match of the week was offered up by the women. Dinara Safina played the best match I have ever seen her play against Martina Hingis. Safina’s serve was so strong and consistent throughout that Hingis had some trouble just getting into the rallies. When she did, Safina showed good touch at the net and unleashed a flurry of backhand winners up the line. If Hingis hoped the big Russian would go away in the third set and crumble under the pressure of having lost their two previous meetings, it was not to be on this day. Safina battled her for three sets before pulling out a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win.

But go figure: this week in Sydney, Safina is already gone at the hands of Australia’s Nicole Pratt who actually lost the first set, 4-6, but came back strong to win at 3 and 2 in the next two.

For Hingis this was a foreshadowing of what she will face during the rest of the year: big girls who can push her around and she without the power in her game to respond well enough. Look for the usual pattern to emerge with Hingis: she’ll get her fifteen seconds of fame whipping through the lower ends of draws then she’ll run aground on the bigger girls waiting in the later rounds.

This week was no improvement. After losing in the final to Safina, Hingis headed to the WTA event in Sydney only to lose in three sets in the first round to Jelena Jankovic. Jankovic is not a huge physical type like Safina, she is about 5’9″, but she wails on the ball like she thinks she’s 6 feet tall. She won her first tournament of the year beating Vera Zvonareva in the three grueling sets.

“I came, I saw, I conquered, ” smiles Jankovic after her win. Cheeky little thing, isn’t she? And she can probably say that in the original Latin since she’s taking college classes in her off hours. We sung her praises a lot last year so it is nice to see her come charging out of the gate. She sounds confident of her chances and has no problem saying she can beat some bigger names. I love her fearlessness.

The event in Chennai, India, with Rafael Nadal as the top seed, was not televised by TTC. Neither was the event in Doha (Mssrs. Ljubicic, Murray, Davydenko). A bit of strangeness went on in those tournaments as well. Nadal lost in the semis in straight sets to Xavier Malisse, another chronic underachiever on the men’s side. Nadal professed in his post-match presser that he was still confident about his chances for the year. But you have to wonder when he loses to a guy like Malisse, whom I termed “Baby Safin” because he has an enormous wealth of talent and shotmaking skills when he chooses to show them to us. Malisse may have had a hot week of play and that’s what undid Nadal, but then Rafa ran into a lot of guys in the second half of last year who treated him in the same fashion. I am already holding my breath over his chances for this year, even during the clay court season.

Tuesday morning the bad news continued for Nadal: while trailing 5-6 to Mr. Penthouse Guccione in Sydney, Nadal strained a groin muscle and had to withdraw. Now he won’t get to meet Tomas Berdych, who would have been his likely quarterfinal opponent, and we’re left hoping that Rafa can be ready for next week’s start in the Open.

A hop and a skip from Chennai over in Doha last week, Andy Murray pulled an upset out of his hat against number one seed Nikolay Davydenko in the semis, but lost rather meekly in the final to Ivan Ljubicic in straight sets.

This week the men are playing in Sydney and Auckland, the women in Sydney and Hobart. Of note was the return of Serena Williams, unseeded, into the Sydney event. So far so good: in her opener she mutilated Sweden’s most accomplished female player, Sofia Arvidsson, 6-4, 6-0. After Borg, Wilander, Edberg and Enqvist, why haven’t the Swedes produced a great female player? They have the head for the game, they certainly have the temperament, and they have a system in place to bring tennis kids along. So what’s the deal, Swedes? Give us your tired, your poor, and especially your babes(!)

Ho-hum, looks like another boring year in tennis, doesn’t it?

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 283 user reviews.

You don’t lose a good friend without wallowing in a few bouts of self-doubt and blame. Not if you’re human.


It’s been a disastrous start for a few players this week. Even though I picked him to improve on hard court this year, Rafael Nadal lost to Xavier Malisse at Chennai, in the semifinals no less. I suppose it could have been worse. David Nalbandian lost in the first round. I predicted that Nalbandian would continue his string of semifinals in slams and Masters Series events this year so I’m not doing so well either.

It’ll get worse for Nadal. His first round opponent in Sydney is Chris Guccione, the Australian wild card who went all the way to the final in Adelaide where he lost to Novak Djokovic. At least I got that right. I picked Djokovic to outperform all of the other young guns on the tour this year except for Andy Murray. If Nadal does get to the semis again, he could meet up with James Blake who has beaten Nadal in all three of their matches.

Nadal and Nalbandian might forget those losses pretty quickly but Lleyton Hewitt could have a headache for a while to come. Hewitt has a disease that’s fairly common on the tour. Andy Murray has it and Elena Dementieva has it too. When things aren’t going well on the court they yell abusively at themselves and, sometimes, at their support staff. Hewitt did it one too many times during his round robin loss to Igor Kunitsyn. His loyal coach Roger Rasheed decided he’d had enough and resigned. Hewitt was evidently stunned when Rasheed turned up at his house to announce his resignation. I have to admit that I’m pretty surprised too.

Rasheed is a pretty smart guy. Take a look at part of his press release regarding his resignation. He used the opportunity to advertise his services:

I have also thoroughly enjoyed my time on the road and even though my wife and I have just become parents, I wouldn’t hesitate to jump back into a similar role, as this is the easiest time to travel with a family.

In other words, “I want you all to know that I am now immediately available for any other coaching opportunity. My bags are packed and ready. Just ring me up. Really, I’m ready to go.”

Unbelievably, it gets worse for Hewitt too. He tore a calf muscle and won’t play in Sydney and could miss the Australian Open. Add this to tendonitis in this knees and the calf muscle injury last year and you have a crumbling career. Hewitt will turn 26 next month, a prime age for most tennis players, but he was number one when he was 19 years old and he’s pushed that tiny body of his very hard for a number of years. The last few against a barrage of big hitters. Maybe it’s like a car, when it starts to break down, it continues to break down.

Rasheed was Hewitt’s good friend. You don’t lose a good friend without wallowing in a few bouts of self-doubt and blame. Not if you’re human. So even if Hewitt can get himself physically straightened out, his confidence has to be affected.

If you looked at the Sydney and the Auckland draw, you might be wondering where all of the big boys are. Nikolay Davydenko, James Blake and Nadal are in Sydney and Tommy Robredo is in Auckland, but when will we see Roger Federer and Andy Roddick and how about Marat Safin? They are at an eight player exhibition event in at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club in Melbourne, the site of the Australian Open before it moved to Melbourne Park in 1988. Andy Murray, Ivan Ljubicic, Tommy Haas, Nalbandian, and Radek Stepanek are there too. Each of the eight participants will play three matches over the four days of the tournament.

I have to say it one more time: scheduling a grand slam in the third week of the calendar is ridiculous. The players at the Kooyong event will have played three matches before the Open. I can’t blame them for sitting out last week either. That’s one way to extend the tiny off-season.

Last week a reader asked me why I wasn’t publishing my picks every week as I did last year. The short answer is that the ATP fantasy tennis season hasn’t started yet and that’s why I published my picks: to help people choose their weekly fantasy teams. The long answer is that I spent the off-season developing an automated method of gathering player statistics so I don’t have to slog through three or four webpages for every match I pick. Unfortunately that meant learning XSL and XML – programs designed to work with databases. The off-season is not only too short for tennis players, it was too short for me. I haven’t quite finished the whole XML/XSL thing yet but as soon as I do, whether the fantasy season has started or not, I’ll start picking draws again.

Speaking of which, the tennis fantasy world is proliferating. Tennis-pool.com has a new tennis fantasy game. You get a budget of $15 million dollars to pick ten WTA players and another $15 million dollars to pick ten ATP players. You can trade players during the trading period each week. I was looking forward to trading players because I’ve read so much about fantasy baseball players trading their players within their fantasy leagues. I could see myself trading Amelie Mauresmo to some unsuspecting soul after I’d just gotten inside information that she’d sprained her ankle in a practice session and would miss the next slam.

I was disappointed on two accounts. First off all, you don’t trade with other people in the fantasy league. You can exchange any two players as long as you stay within your $15 million dollar budget. That’s too easy. I prefer the ATP version. Even though you pick new players every week in the ATP game, you’re only allowed to use the same player five times a year. Who did I choose as my top WTA player? Justine Henin-Hardenne who promptly announced that she’s skipping the Australian Open for personal reasons. The Belgian newspapers are reporting that she is separating from her husband.

Hopefully the season will improve for Hewiit, Nadal, Henin-Hardenne and me.

See also: 2007: ATP Players Predictions

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Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 284 user reviews.