This week’s submission deadline is Sunday morning, May 18, 4am (EST) in the U.S./10am (CET) in Europe.
There are three tournaments this week: Poertschach, Casablanca, and Dusseldorf. Dusseldorf is a team event so it’s not included in the fantasy game. We’ll be picking players from the Poertschach and Casablanca only.
Poertschach draw (clay, first prize: $90, 923)
Casablanca draw (clay, first prize: $90, 923)
Poertschach starts tomorrow – which explains the Sunday morning submission deadline – but Casablanca doesn’t start till Monday so their draw was just posted. Speaking of draws, if you have time, check the draws again before you go to bed. Look at what happened this week: so many players dropped out of Hamburg that the tournament reseeded the draw which means that they moved people around in the draw. Two of my players ended up playing each other in the second round.
Since both Poertschach and Casablanca have the same prize money and we need eight players, let’s pick four players from each draw.
In the last five years, Nikolay Davydenko has never done worse than the quarterfinals in Poertschach and he’s won it twice. Given his penchant for losing in the first round, this is remarkable consistency for him. But should you pick him? He’s reached the semifinals at the U.S. open in the past two years and the semifinals in Roland Garros two out of the last three years. He’s also won Moscow three of the last four years and that pays $171, 000 for a first prize. Save him for these three events because you can only use him five times this year.
I’ve already used Davydenko twice so let’s look for another player in his quarter. Andreas Seppi reached the semifinals this week in Hamburg so he’s my pick. Jeez, I hope he doesn’t drop out.
Jurgen Melzer is the only player who stands out in Mardy Fish’s quarter because he’s reached the quarterfinals and final here, but he’s on a six game clay losing streak dating back to Roland Garros last year. Robin Haase reached the quarterfinals at Valencia so he gets my pick.
Sam Querrey is hanging out in Ivan Ljubic’s quarter and he did reach the quarterfinals at Monte Carlo, but should you waste him on a small clay court event? Here are the pros and cons. Cons: he probably won’t win considering that Davydenko can beat him here; he’s not likely to get past the semifinals because Juan Monaco can beat him on clay too; he can pick up a semifinal or final in the smaller summer hard court tournaments and he’s already reached a quarterfinal at Cincinnati. Pros: he’s likely to go to the Olympics because Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish are staying home so that will cut down on his summer hard court schedule; he hasn’t shown anything on grass or indoor hard court yet. Oy, predicting the future is hard work! I’m taking Querrey and hoping for semifinal money at least.
The bottom quarter is a fight between Monaco and Mario Ancic. Monaco hasn’t been doing that well in the past few weeks but Ancic hasn’t either and Monaco won this tournament last year and reached the quarterfinals the year before, so he’s my choice.
Poertschach has five players in the top 50 while Casablanca has only one, so it’ll be hard to find players in the Casablanca draw since only those players in the top 100 at the beginning of the fantasy season are eligible. Curiously enough, on average, half of the top eight seeds have reached the quarterfinals in Casablanca over the past five years so it’s not as unpredictable as many larger tournaments.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is the top seed by far at number 13, but he meets up with Albert Montanes in the first round and Montanes had quarterfinals at Barcelona and Hamburg and there’s no one else in Montanes’ quarter to threaten him, so he’s my first pick.
Marc Gicquel reached the semifinals here last year and he’s 2-0 over his main competition in the quarter, Florent Serra, so Gicquel’s my second pick.
The third quarter is a mix of old and new and fallen. Younes El Aynaoui, Dominik Hrbaty, and Agustin Calleri were all top twenty players at one point but Calleri is now the only one in the top 100. Since Calleri has beaten the other top 100 players in this quarter – Peter Luczak and Oliver Patience – I’m going with Calleri.
Most players in the bottom quarter have played in challengers the past few weeks. Since Gael Monfils has the best record and he’s in the challenger final in Marrakech this week, I’m picking him.
Here are my fantasy picks for this week: Seppi, Haase, Querrey, Monaco. Montanes, Giquel, Calleri, Monfils.