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This week’s submission deadline is Monday morning, July 14, 4am (EST) in the U.S./10am (CET) in Europe.

The European clay court season finally comes to an end this week with three tournaments and the North American hard court season starts up with Indianapolis. Yes, we have four tournaments again this week.

Kitzbuhel (clay, first prize: $180, 000)
Amersfoort (clay, first prize: $83, 461)
Umag (clay, first prize: $83, 461)
Indianapolis (hard court, $83, 500)

As you can see, Kitzbuhel is paying more than twice as much as the other three tournaments. We need eight players for our fantasy team and after looking at the draws, I’m going to pick three players from the Kitzbuhel draw, two each from Amersfoort and Umag, and one from Indianapolis.

Kitzbuhel

We need three players from this draw and the top half of the draw is loaded with good players so I’m taking two from the top half and one from the bottom half.

In the first quarter, Andreas Seppi reached the quarterfinals here last year and so did Sergio Roitman. Juan Martin Del Potro reached the quarterfinals two years ago. Seppi looks like the premier player with a semifinal at Hamburg and a quarterfinal at Poertschach, but he lost to the 162nd ranked player in the first round this week. And his first opponent is Nicolas Devilder who is killing the challenger circuit on clay. Roitman is having a bad year. Seppi beat Del Potro in their only meeting and Del Potro is in the Stuttgart final this week and I don’t trust him to do well at two events in a row. I’m picking Seppi to come out of this quarter.

The second quarter is even worse because Agustin Calleri reached the semifinals here last year and won it the year before, and he reached the semifinals at Stuttgart this week. However, his first round opponent, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, reached the semifinals this week too – in Gstaad. Victor Hanescu, who hasn’t done anything all year, is in the final at Gstaad where he will meet Pablo Andujar. Calleri has the best results this year and he has the best record here so I expect him to come out of this quarter.

As for the bottom half, Eduardo Schwank and Potito Starace are the only players of note in the third quarter. Starace reached the final last year but he’s had a disappointing year. He did beat Carlos Moya and Marat Safin to get to the quarterfinals at Bastad this week but Schwank beat Moya too and Schwank has beaten some players this year that Starace has lost to. So I’d love to pick Schwank but he’s not eligible because his ranking was higher than 100 when the fantasy season started.

Rainer Schuettler is the second seed and he’s in the bottom quarter, but he’s 1-5 on clay this year and Jurgen Melzer has a losing record on clay. I’m picking Starace in the bottom half of the draw and crossing my fingers.

Amersfoort

The top seed in this event is 48th ranked Marc Gicquel and he has a losing record on clay this year. Gicquel lost to Steve Darcis last year in the first round and Darcis went on to win this tournament. Both Darcis and Gicquel are in the top half of the draw and this is very hard to pick.

Darcis is an enigma. He beat Gilles Simon, Igor Andreev, and Mikhil Youzhny on the way to the title last year and he also won the title in Memphis this year on indoor hard court by beating Robin Soderling. Beyond that, he’s never been past the second round of an ATP event and after going 6-1 on clay last year, he’s 3-6 this year. Florent Serra reached the quarterfinals here last year and he has a better record than Gicquel or Darcis on clay, so I’m picking Serra in the top half of the draw.

In the bottom half, Albert Montanes has beaten Kristof Vliegen, Santiago Ventura, Marcel Granollers, and Jose Acasuso on clay this year – Acasuso twice – so he’s my pick for the bottom half.

Umag

Fernando Verdasco is the top seed and he looks like the overwhelming favorite. He’s had two semifinals and a final here in the past four years and he has two wildcards and a qualifier in his quarter.

Other than a quarterfinal at Hamburg, Carlos Moya hasn’t gone past the first round at a clay event since February, and there isn’t much else in the second quarter so Verdasco is my pick for the top half.

In the third quarter, it’s very hard to pick between Guillermo Canas and Igor Andreev. Canas has been playing well lately with a quarterfinal in his last two clay events and a semifinal at s’Hertogenbosch on grass, but his opponents have been weak. Andreev reached the quarterfinals at Gstaad this week over stronger competition and he’s beaten some strong players on clay this year, so I think he’ll come out of this quarter.

Ivan Ljubicic reached the fourth round at the French Open and the final at Poertschach but, except for a five set victory over Nikolay Davydenko, he hasn’t beaten anyone of note. Ivo Karlovic is in this quarter and he has victories over Tommy Robredo and Paul-Henri Mathieu on clay this year so I’m not sure who’ll come out of this quarter. Therefore, I’m picking Andreev for the bottom half.

Indianapolis

Indianapolis is very consistent. Half of the top eight seeds have reached the quarterfinals in each of the past five years. Speaking of that, I’d like to pick Frank Dancevic because he’s unseeded and he reached the final here last year. But he lost to Dmitry Tursunov in that final – Tursunov is in this draw – and he just lost to Bobby Reynolds at Wimbledon and Reynolds could be his second round opponent.

Sam Querrey is in the bottom half of this draw and he reached the semifinals last year by beating James Blake, the top seed, but Tommy Haas is also in the bottom half and he beat Querrey three times last year, two on hard court. You never know when Haas’ troublesome shoulder will break down but he did just get to the third round at Wimbledon, and he got to the quarterfinals at Indian Wells, so I have to pick him to come out of the bottom half of the draw.

Blake has reached the quarterfinals or better in every hard court event he’s played this year and that includes Miami, Indian Wells, and the Australian Open, so it’s hard not to pick him to reach the final. But should you waste him in a small tournament with low prize money? I’ve only picked Blake once this year so I have four picks left. Last year he won the title at New Haven, reached the final at Cincinnati, and the fourth round at the U.S. Open. He also does very well at Stockholm which pays good money so I’m saving him.

I’m picking Haas in this draw.

Picks

My picks this week are Seppi, Calleri, Starace, Serra, Montanes, Verdasco, Andreev, and Haas.

Happy Fantasies!

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