Monthly Archives: September 2007

ATP Fantasy Tennis Picks for Tokyo and Metz

We’re deep into the ATP Fantasy Tennis Season so check out my Fantasy Tennis Guide. You’ll find Fast Facts, Strategies, and Statistics to help you play the game.

Sign up and join our subleague! It’s called We send weekly email updates to all subleague members before the submission deadline.

The deadline for picking your team this week is Sunday, September 29, 8pm EST/Monday, September 30, 2am CET.

Rear View Mirror – a look at lasts week’s picks

Last week was all messed up because there was an ATP tummy bug going around. I figured Tommy Haas would drop out of Bangkok. He didn’t but he lost in the second round. I figured Llleyton Hewitt would play in Mumbai. He did but he lost in the quarterfinals. I passed on Andy Roddick which was a good thing because he hurt his foot and dropped out of Bangkok.

The real surprise was Benjamin Becker. He beat Carlos Moya and Tomas Berdych to get to the final in Bangkok. I love Benni but I hope my player Dmitry Tursunov beats him to win the Bangkok title.

There are two tournaments this week and we need eight players for our team. Tokyo is paying almost twice as much to its winner than Metz so let’s find five players for Tokyo and three for Metz.

Tokyo (outdoor hard court, first prize: $145,000)

You gotta take David Ferrer. He reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open and quarterfinals at Cincinnati and is having a great year on hard court. I wouldn’t save him for Madrid and Paris. He’s reached the quarterfinals at both those events, but if he reaches the final here, that’s more prize money than a quarterfinal at either Madrid or Paris.

Lleyton Hewitt is 10-2 in Tokyo but he hasn’t played here since 2004. Sam Querrey, Hyung-Taik Lee and Ivo Karlovic are in his quarter. Querrey had an excellent summer but Hewitt’s was even better. Hewitt is 3-0 over Hyung-Taik Lee. Karlovic has a 2-0 record over Hewitt but that was on grass and Karlovic is only 10-9 on hard court this year.

Benjamin Becker is lurking in this quarter and he got to the semifinals here last year but the only tough player he faced was Jarkko Nieminen. I’m taking Hyung-Taik Lee in addition to Hewitt because I need five players for Tokyo. Lee had a very good summer and he plays well in Asia. He also has a 10-5 record in Tokyo and reached the semifinals last year.

Nieminen is in Richard Gasquet’s quarter. Metz is the only fall tournament in which Gasquet has gone past the second round so don’t save him for Madrid and Paris. Gasquet is 3-1 over Nieminen so he should be able to win his quarter.

Tomas Berdych is the second seed here but save him for Madrid and Paris. He does well at both events. Fernando Verdasco and Thomas Johansson are in Berdych’s quarter. They’re both average hard court players but Verdasco had a solid summer season and got to the semifinals at Bangkok last week so I’m picking him.

Tokyo Draw

Metz (indoor hard court, first prize: $76,970)

We should just name this the French Indoor Hard Court Championships. Sebastien Grosjean reached the semifinals last year, Arnaud Clement is 14-6 at this event and Gael Monfils is 6-2. All three of these players are spoilers because top seed Tommy Robredo could face Clement in the second round and Grosjean in the quarterfinals and Guilermo Canas gets Monfils in the first round.

All of which makes this a tough tournament to pick because indoor hard court is Robredo’s worst surface. I can use Robredo one more time so I’m saving him for Paris where he reached the semifinals last year.

There’s one sure pick: wild card Andy Murray. Take him because he’s 22-5 on indoor hard court. Wow, that’s an exceptional record.

I’m not picking Canas in the bottom quarter because he hasn’t done anything on hard court since Miami and he hasn’t played an indoor hard court event since 2004. I’m taking Marc Gicquel – another French guy – because he reached the semifinals here last year. He’s also 2-0 over Monfils on indoor hard court.

From the top half of the draw I’m taking Grosjean because he’s 2-0 over Robredo on fast indoor surfaces. Grosjean is near the end of his career but there aren’t a lot of other choices. Igor Andreev is 2-6 lifetime on indoor hard court and Mathieu has gone out in the second round here the last two years.

I’ll just have to depend on Murray to win the tournament.

Metz Draw

My Picks

Here’s my team: Ferrer, Hewitt, Lee, Gasquet, Verdasco, Grosjean, Murray, Gicquel.

Happy fantasies!

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Benni Becker Ends His Slump On Live Streaming Video

Benjamin Becker is in the semifinals at Bangkok and you can watch it on a tiny TV window.

About 350 miles (575 km) northwest of Bangkok, Thailand, Myanmar’s military junta is shooting at peaceful protesters in the street. Only about 1% of people living in Myanmar (also known as Burma) have access to the internet but we are getting cellphone videos of the clashes.

Thailand hasn’t said much about the actions of it neighbor’s government. Maybe that’s because it’s ruled by a military junta itself and part of its population is under martial law. However, the internet in Thailand appears to work slightly better than in Myanmar.

If you go to you can see a 24 hour webcam of center court at the Thailand Open tennis tournament. I was watching it at midnight Bangkok time a few days ago as two non-professional tennis players snuck onto the court and got in a little hitting. I’m pretty sure they didn’t know they were on camera.

Makes you wonder whether internet access is a good thing or not. Yes, it would make it harder for a dictatorship to censor information, but it also makes it easier to carry out surveillance activities.

We’ve been following Benjamin Becker’s career here at Tennis Diary since he was playing challengers. This week in Bangkok Benni has broken out of a three month losing streak and is into the semifinals.

Benni got to the semifinals by beating his fellow German Domink Meffert and I dragged myself out of bed at 5am this morning to see the match. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent futzing around with software that should automatically record internet video and let me sleep through the night, but it’s not ready for prime time yet.

Don’t get your hopes up, the live streaming window is small and the resolution is pretty low. As Benni entered the court, his argyle tennis shirt vibrated with baby blue pixels and you have to guess where the ball is going by the position of the players. Still, if you open up a live scoring window and listen to the commentators, you’ll enjoy yourself.

Benni had lost his first match in seven straight tournaments prior to Bangkok and that means there’s a problem with his game. I watched his match in its entirety so I could see what that problem is.

Meffert is a six foot six inch tree with a big serve who likes to get to the net. Benni is only five foot ten but he depends on a big serve too. Rather than going to the net he prefers to end points early from the baseline. This all sounds good to me. The shorter the match, the sooner I could get back to bed.

Benni was lucky to win this match. He saved two set points to get to the first set tiebreaker but this is only Meffert’s third main draw event and nerves got to him. Meffert served three double faults in the tiebreaker to lose it 7-2.

Benni hit a winner down the line to get a break point in Meffert’s first service game in the second set, but he followed that up by hitting a return into the net and then hitting an unforced error. This demonstrates two of the problems Benni has been having: too many errors on groundstrokes, particularly on the forehand, and poor footwork on the return. He stands at the baseline and takes the serve early, which is a good thing, but he’s way down in the ATP stats for break points converted.

Serving at 3-3 in the second set, Benni’s serve deserted him. He got exactly one first serve in while facing three break points and he went down a break. This is another problem: his first serve percentage for the year is just over 50%, not good enough for someone who depends on a big serve.

Having said that, he’s fourth in the ATP at saving break points and that’s a good sign because it means he plays the big points well. With Meffert serving for the second set at 5-4, Benni hit a good passing shot and a winner off return of serve. Meffert helped out by putting an overhead into the net but it was enough to put Benni back on serve.

In Meffert’s next service game, Benni hit another good passing shot to get a match point and won the match with another good return, this time at the feet of the big guy. The final score was 7-6(2), 7-5.

Benni has played exceptionally well this week. He beat number 15 ranked Carlos Moya in the first round and he’s reached his third semifinal of the year. That’s pretty good. It’s tough out here on the ATP tour though. You can fall as quickly as you rose and here’s hoping Benni can improve his weaker areas well enough to get back to a ranking somewhere in the 30’s and, in the future, even higher.

If you’d like to see Benni play his semifinal against Tomas Berdych, it’s streaming on Saturday at 3am (EST)/midnight (PST). Have fun and tell me what happened. I’ll be sleeping.

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Gambling Problems Spread to Women’s Tennis

Tatiana Poutchek and Mariya Koryttseva played a quarterfinal match at the Sunfeast Open in Kolkata, India, last Friday and yet another irregular betting pattern popped up in the world of tennis. The ATP is still investigating an irregular betting pattern on a match between Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo-Arguello at the Prokom Open in early August.

In both cases the irregular betting turned up on, a betting exchange based in England. And in both cases, the pattern was similar: the odds changed significantly before the match started and they continued to change despite the fact that the action on the court did not warrant it.

Koryttseva started the day as the underdog in the Kolkata match but by the time five games had been played in the first set, Koryttseva’s odds were almost even making her the favorite. The problem is that the players were on serve at this point, meaning that neither player had an advantage, so there was no justification for such a big change in odds. If Poutchek had shown signs of injury or Koryttseva had taken a commanding lead, the betting would have made sense.

I understand that Befair contacted WTA officials and the tour doctor to verify that Poutchek was indeed healthy. I left a phone message with WTA’s media contact to check this information but my call was not returned. Befair eventually decided to pay out all bets on the match.

The total bet on the Kolkata match did not equal the $7 million placed on the Davydenko match, but it was over $1.5 million, more than you’d expect on a match in a Tier III tournament between two players both ranked lower than 120.

Koryttseva won the match, 6-4, 6-2.

Betfair made the unprecedented decision to void all bets on the Davydenko match. Since then, gambling had become an open conversation on the pro tennis tour and a number of ATP players have come forth and said that they were offered money to influence the outcome of matches.

It would be tempting to blame the increase in irregular betting on internet gambling. Indeed, gambling on tennis has increased with the establishment of betting exchanges – online betting sites that allow users to offer each other bets. But it’s more likely that internet gambling has uncovered gambling problems that already existed.

Take horse racing for example. In a September 13th article on, Nelson Lardner described three cases where betting rings in horse racing were uncovered by Betfair. Two of the cases resulted in significant suspensions for those caught. In Lardner’s view: “…Betfair and the like are helping to enforce sporting integrity more than any other oversight body in this day and age.”

That’s not true for incidents involving performance enhancing drugs – another ethical problem in sports today – but for gambling it certainly is true.

I don’t know yet whether the WTA will investigate the Kolkata match further but the ATP has been smart enough to consult with the British Horse Racing Authority (BHA). The BHA has a close working relationship with Befair. They have employees who monitor betting patterns on the site.

Knowing what has already happened on the ATP, the WTA would be silly not to take the ATP’s lead by doing something similar.

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Read about the Davydenko match and how the ATP should deal with it.

And Roddick Brings the Davis Cup Final Home

The U.S. won its Davis Cup tie over Sweden and will now play the final against Russia on its home court. That’s what I’m talking about.

I am a happy camper. I’m going to the Davis Cup final because it’s right here in the U.S. Andy Roddick finished off Jonas Bjorkman as the U.S. won the tie, 3-1, despite a virus that seems to have made its way around the world.

Everyone on the U.S. team was affected by a flu bug so maybe I was too hard on James Blake for losing to Thomas Johansson on Friday. Maybe he wasn’t feeling too good but how was I supposed to know? The U.S. team did everything they could to keep it quiet. Besides, Johansson got the bug too and that’s why Bjorkman got a call Sunday morning telling him to get ready to play Roddick.

About a thousand miles south by south east in a hotel room in Moscow, Tommy Haas was dealing with his own viral infection and couldn’t play his reverse singles match. Instead, number 206 ranked Philipp Petzschner had to play the fourth rubber for Germany against Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny.

Germany was up 2-1 after they won the doubles match on Saturday and they only needed one more victory to win the tie and play the final in Germany. But they couldn’t do it. Petzschner lost to Youzhny and Philipp Kohlschreiber lost to Igor Andreev. Fine by me.

The only way Bjorkman could have beaten Roddick was to return serve exceptionally well and attack relentlessly. Not only is that Bjorkman’s game, but he’s never going to win a baseline match. Bjorkman attacked the net and tried to finish points as quickly as possible if he was at the baseline. He managed to do both things but he never managed to do them at the same time.

In the first set Bjorkman hit balls out of the court because he was going for too much. Errors accounted for both service breaks he suffered in the first set. In the second set he hit 27 winners but his first serve percentage plummeted so he couldn’t serve and volley. He did get to the tiebreaker in the second set but he was down 5-0 before he got a first serve in and Roddick is not likely to lose many service points in a tiebreaker.

In the third set Roddick broke Bjorkman’s serve by hitting, believe it or not, four good returns of serve. One of them was an accident but it worked. Roddick won the match, 6-2, 7-6(3), 6-4.

It’s unfortunate for Germany and Sweden that their best players weren’t available. If the U.S. were to lose Andy Roddick, they’d be in deep, deep trouble themselves. As for now, though, Roddick has a good chance of adding a Davis Cup trophy to his other accomplishments.

Today’s win was the ninth straight time Roddick has won the deciding rubber in a Davis Cup tie and even if Roddick doesn’t get that Wimbledon title he’d really love to have, that’s a record he can be proud of.

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ATP Fantasy Tennis Picks for Mumbai and Bangkok

We’re deep into the ATP Fantasy Tennis Season so check out my Fantasy Tennis Guide. You’ll find Fast Facts, Strategies, and Statistics to help you play the game.

Sign up and join our subleague! It’s called We send weekly email updates to all subleague members before the submission deadline.

The deadline for picking your team this week is Sunday, September 23, 10pm EST and Monday, 4am CET. I’m late with these picks because Bangkok didn’t put it’s draw out until today.

Rear View Mirror – a look at last week’s picks

There weren’t any picks last week because all of the men were playing Davis Cup but I do have one thing to say about my last set of picks. I caught a case of TMI when I made picks for Bucharest. TMI is “too much information.”

If you go to and click on the pulldown menu labeled “Select a tournament” then click on Bucharest, you’ll get the record of every player who’s ever played in Bucharest (tennisform hasn’t updated the 2007 results yet). Jurgen Melzer and Florent Serra have excellent records in this tournament and even though they’ve been playing terribly this year, I chose them instead of another player in their quarter, Gilles Simon. Simon has been playing well lately and he ended up winning Bucharest.

I should have used the tournament record as a tiebreaker between two equally matched players instead of favoring it over Simon’s recent record of good results. Isn’t hindsight wonderful?

There are two tournaments this week and the first prize is similar so we need four players from each tournament.

Bangkok (indoor hard court, first prize: $76,500)

I am a happy camper this Sunday morning. The U.S. won its Davis Cup tie against Sweden and Russia came back from a 2-1 deficit to beat Germany and that means the Davis Cup final is in the U.S. and I can go to it!!!

Tommy Haas did not play the reverse singles for Germany, though, and I don’t know if that’s because he’s a woeful clay court player or he has an injury. The Davis Cup ties just ended so I don’t have information yet but Germany played Philipp Petzschner instead of Haas and Petzschner is ranked number 206 in the world and is not a clay court specialist. I bring this up because Haas is playing in Bangkok this week so check the draw before you go to bed tonight to see if he pulled out.

[UPDATE: Tommy Haas has a viral infection that got worse during the night.]

The Bangkok event is loaded with top players: Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick and Tomas Berdych are here. Carlos Moya is here too but he’s in Djokovic’s quarter. Obviously you should save Djokovic for Madrid and one of the more lucrative indoor hard court events such as Vienna.

And here we have an interesting choice because, remember, we want to pick one player from each quarter. Moya hasn’t played well on indoor hard court since 2003 so I’m going to ignore this quarter and pick two players from Berdych’s quarter.

Berdych is in a tough quarter. Thomas Johansson, Ivo Karlovic, and Feliciano Lopez are there. But Johansson hasn’t played well on indoor hard court this year and Lopez is too inconsistent. What I’m going to do is take Berdych and Karlovic instead of making a pick in Djokovic’s quarter.

Haas has Joachim Johansson in his draw and Johansson is killer in fall indoor hard court tournaments. Unfortunately he’s not available for ATP fantasy tennis. I would not save Haas for Madrid, he doesn’t do well there, but do save him for Paris where he has an excellent record. I’m using Haas this week because I’ve only used him three times and he doesn’t play a lot of fall indoor tournaments.

[UPDATE: since Tommy Haas has a viral infection I’m taking Carlos Moya.]

I can use Roddick one more time. Should I use him this week? He’s never gotten past the third round at Madrid and probably won’t play Paris if he’s already qualified for the year end championships. However, if he does poorly at Madrid he might choose to play Lyon or Vienna which both pay much more so I’m saving him. Instead I’m taking Dmitry Tursunov because no one else in that quarter inspires confidence.

Notice below that I’ve posted a website that is streaming the Bangkok event on the internet.

Live Webcast
Bangkok Draw

Mumbai (outdoor hard court, first prize: $65,850)

Richard Gasquet hasn’t gone past the second round of a hard court tournament since Indian Wells but he doesn’t have any competition in his quarter and I haven’t used him much because he’s sick or injured so often. I’m using him now.

A possible third round matchup between Fabrice Santoro and Jarkko Nieminen is hard to pick. Santoro is 2-0 lifetime over Nieminen but Santoro is winding his career down. Neither one has a good hard court record this year but Santoro’s is better so I’m taking him.

Paul-Henri Mathieu is maddeningly inconsistent on hard courts: he had a first round exit in Cincinnati and the US Open and a semifinal in New Haven. He should be able to beat Nicolas Kiefer in the first round but I’m a bit nervous because Kiefer got to the semifinals at Beijing last week but we can’t pick Kiefer because he’s not available for ATP fantasy tennis so I’m going with Mathieu.

Rainer Schuettler actually has a 2-2 record against Llleyton Hewitt but Hewitt won both hard court matches so I’m going with him since I haven’t used Hewitt this year.

Mumbai Draw

My Picks

Here’s my team: Gasquet, Santoro, Mathieu, Hewitt, Berdych, Karlovic, Haas Moya, Tursunov.

Happy fantasies!

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