I felt like a gambler, like I’d just bet my rent money on the Super Bowl and I had to win the game even though the opposing quarterback was the comeback story of the year. My mind was with the money but my heart went out to the opponent. If Andy Roddick beat Mikhail Youzhny and made it to the final at the U.S. Open, I’d be down $600, 000 to more than a few people in my subleague because I didn’t have faith enough to put Roddick on my fantasy team and here he was putting together one of the best stories of the year. The player many had given up on comes back from an embarrassing first round loss last year and a devastating early exit at Wimbledon to climb all the way back into the Federer-Nadal conversation.

Yes, Roddick is in the finals and I am down his $600, 000 prize money. I should have chosen him. He’s had only one loss since teaming up with Jimmy Connors and the Open is his home slam. He’s not in much danger of beating Roger Federer in the final but at least he’ll get almost the same take-home pay because he gets a bonus for winning the U.S. Open Series. (If that bonus counts in the fantasy league standings, I’m finding the nearest tall building)

I can’t imagine many fantasy players picked Youzhny and most of us had already used up all our Nikolay Davydenkos for the clay court season which I had earlier assured you was finished. It’s not. This week there are two tournaments and one of them is on clay. Bucharest (clay) is paying its winner $55, 742, Beijing (hard court) is paying its winner $69, 200.

At least you can put Carlos Moya to use if you haven’t already. Bucharest looks like the Spanish Open, three Spanish players could be in the semifinals. It would have been four if Rafael Nadal hadn’t pulled out – he was replaced by Florent Serra – leaving the bottom half of the draw to Moya.

I don’t know what Tursunov is doing in Bucharest, he’s awful on clay, he should be in Beijing preparing for the fall indoor season.

Davydenko, amazingly enough, is flying halfway around the world to play in Beijing after playing in the semifinals at the Open. Does he ever take a day off? Still, wait till the last moment to submit your team to make sure he doesn’t pull out.

Ljubicic hasn’t had anything to do since he lost to Feliciano Lopez in the first round of the Open and Mario Ancic has been injured. It’s more or less a tossup when those two play each other but, as I’ve said many times, save Ljubicic for indoors.

Baghdatis sleepwalks through these small tournaments but who’s he going to lose to, Karlovic?

Hrbaty can beat Ancic, he’s 2-1 against him on hard court.

The semifinalists are likely to be Ljubicic, Ancic, Baghdatis and Davydenko in Beijing and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo, Moya and Florent Serra in Bucharest, but be careful because there are seven tournaments left that pay over $100, 000 to the winner and that doesn’t include the two remaining Masters Series events so don’t waste front line players this week.

Here are some second tier players: Ivo Karlovic, Paradorn Srichaphan and Dominik Hrbaty in Beijing, Juan Monaco, Filippo Volandri, and Florian Mayer in Bucharest.

See also: 2006 U.S. Open: ATP Fantasy League Picks


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