This week’s submission deadline is September 28, Sunday night, 10pm (EST) in the U.S./September 29, Monday morning, 4am (CET) in Europe.
The fantasy site lists three tournaments this week: Tokyo, Metz, and Bangalore, but the Bangalore event has been canceled. The ATP blamed security concerns in the area after a bomb blast killed one person and wounded at least 15 others in July. But Anil Khanna, an official with the Indian tennis association, assailed the tournament organizers for blaming security issues instead of admitting that they had trouble attracting star players and finding sponsors. I don’t know who’s telling the truth but if Khanna is correct, and there’s some reason to believe him considering that other sporting events in the area are going on as planned, the organizers have fanned terrorist concerns unnecessarily.
Tokyo is paying $135,000 to its winner and Metz is paying $90,923, so let’s pick five players from Tokyo and three from Metz to make up our eight player fantasy team.
Tokyo draw (hard court, first prize: $135,000)
Metz (indoor hard court, first prize: $90,923)
David Ferrer won the title in Tokyo last year but he’s having a terrible year on hard court. He hasn’t made it past the third round of a hard court event since the Australian Open and he just lost to Dudi Sela in the first round in Beijing. Sela is in this quarter and he beat Juan Martin Del Potro here last year, but Del Potro is 15-4 on hard court so far with two titles and a US Open quarterfinal, and I’ve only used him twice so he’s my pick for the top quarter.
Kei Nishikori beat David Ferrer at the US Open and this is Nishikori’s home tournament, but he’s not eligible for fantasy tennis because he wasn’t ranked in the top 100 at the beginning of the season. Richard Gasquet can probably beat Mikhail Youzhny on hard court but I’ve used Gasquet five times this year and, for some reason, haven’t used Youzhny even once. I considered picking Rainer Schuettler who reached the semifinals in Beijing this week, but Youzhny has beaten him the last four times they’ve met on hard court. Youzhny it is.
The third quarter has some firepower. Tommy Robredo got to the quarterfinals in Beijing this week though he didn’t beat anyone significant to get there. Tomas Berdych was on a run in Bangkok this week until he ran into Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. Sam Querrey beat Tomas Berdych in the first round at the US Open, and Fernando Gonzalez can kick anyone’s butt on hard court when he feels like it. The Robredo/Berdych matchup is a tossup. They’ve beaten each other on clay and hard court. Gonzalez beat Querrey in their only matchup on hard court but that was two years ago. Gonzalez reached the quarterfinals in Beijing this week and I’ve only used him twice this year so Gonzalez is my pick. And since I need five players from this drawer and I’ve used Robredo five times already, I’m also taking Berdych.
I may have used my Andy Roddicks up too soon. He’s in the Beijing final and looking good. But Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is in the final in Bangkok and he beat his friend Gael Monfils to get there. I don’t think Tsonga can beat Andy Roddick but he should get to the semifinals so I’m picking him.
The Metz draw has last year’s semifinalists but no finalists and no quarterfinalists, so we’ll have to look at players’ indoor hard court records to evaluate them.
Ivo Karlovic is the top seed and he had a 13-4 record on indoor hard court last year, reached the semifinals in Rotterdam this year, and just won two Davis Cup matches on indoor hard court. However, he has a cruel draw in the person of his first round opponent: Marcos Baghdatis. Baghdatis reached the final in Marseille this year and reached the semifinal in an indoor hard court challenger last week. Guillermo Canas is also here and he was a semifinalist last year, but I think Karlovic and Baghdatis can beat him. I’m picking Karlovic for two reasons: Baghdatis retired during that semifinal and he’d just returned to the tour after a ten week layoff with a wrist injury, and Baghdatis’ indoor hard court record hasn’t been anywhere near as good as his record on carpet the past few years.
Ivan Ljubicic, Michael Llodra, Feliciano Lopez, and Radek Stepanek look most promising in the next quarter. Ljubicic has a stunning 54-19 record on hard court over the past five years but he’s only 7-6 the last two years and his ranking is down to number 47. Llodra won the title in Rotterdam this year but as far as I can tell, that’s the only time he’s ever gone past the second round in the main draw on indoor hard court and he just lost in the second round of a challenger. Lopez has lost in the first round in his last four tournaments. I’m picking Stepanek, he’s by far the most consistent performer indoors.
Mario Ancic is back from a seven week break due to ongoing problems with mononucleosis. He’s 7-1 on hard court this year and he won his Davis Cup match on indoor hard court two weeks ago. Ancic is 3-1 over Paul-Henri Mathieu including wins over him indoors in Madrid and Paris last fall, but his first opponent is Ernests Gulbis. Gulbis was 18-2 in indoor hard court challengers last year and he reached the quarterfinals in St. Petersburg last fall. I’m going to assume that Ancic’s main draw experience is more valuable than Gulbis’ challenger wins and pick Ancic.
Andreas Seppi beat Arnaud Clement in the first round here last year but he’d probably lose to Gilles Simon if he met him in the quarterfinals. Marc Gicquel reached the semifinals here two years ago but he hasn’t done well on indoor hard court this year. Simon is the third player in this draw with a tough first round. His opponent, Nicolas Mahut, reached the semifinals here last year while Simon lost in the first round. Simon reached the quarterfinals in Marseille and Rotterdam while Mahut reached the quarterfinals in Marseille and just reached the quarterfinals in Bangkok. It’s a tough pick but since I’ve already used Simon five times this year and I only need three players from this draw, I’m skipping this quarter altogether.
My picks are: Del Potro, Youzhny, Berdych, Gonzalez, Tsonga, Karlovic, Stepanek, and Ancic.