ATP Fantasy Tennis Season is under way and I’ve posted a Fantasy Tennis Guide with fast facts, strategies, and statistics to help you play the game.

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

Despite losing five of my eight players before the quarterfinals last week, I still managed to improve my team standing. That’s how crazy it was.

I knew Mardy Fish was in trouble at Newport because he had three qualifiers in his quarter but I thought it would be Antony Dupuis, not Aisam Qureshi, who’d take him out. I told you Nicolas Mahut would get to the final.

Tommy Robredo has become undependable, he lost in the first round at Bastad, and Mikhail Youzhny continued his pattern of either losing in the first round – as he did in Gstaad – or getting deep into a tournament.

It’s all good, though, because those were small tournaments. This week there’s some real money on the table.

Stuttgart (clay, $133, 250)

That’s a lotta money. The losing finalist gets almost as much as the winner in Los Angeles. Luckily, there are a few players with easy paths to the semifinals. Remember, when there are two or three tournaments in one week, look for the players with the easiest path to the semis and ignore the matches that look like tossups.

Rafael Nadal is the obvious favorite and that brings up a tough decision. Unless you missed the first week of the ATP Fantasy Tennis Season – understandable considering the confusion over its start date – you’ve already used Nadal once so you can only choose him four more times. You can only pick a player five times in one season. There’s one grand slam left – the U.S. Open – and four Masters Series events: Montreal, Cincinnati, Madrid, and Paris.

You have to pick Nadal for the U.S. Open because the purse is so high. You have to pick him for Cincinnati and Montreal because he could win either tournament. For sure he’ll play Madrid because it’s in Spain and he’s won it before, but he’s less likely to win it now that Tomas Berdych and other young players are so much better. Nadal has never played the Paris Masters event and he won’t play it this year because he’ll have already qualified for Shanghai and, in any case, his foot hurts if he plays too much on hard courts.

Here’s the gamble: if he only gets to the quarterfinals of the Madrid event – as he did last year – he’ll win $42, 000. So you can get a sure $133, 250 here or take a chance on missing out on $340, 000 if he wins Madrid.

Nadal’s record on indoor courts is the only part of his game that has not improved over his career so I’m taking the $133, 250 and holding my breath for the rest of the year.

Tomas Berdych is in Nadal’s half of the draw and I expect him to get to the semifinals. I think Robredo will go out to Guillermo Canas and David Ferrer will continue his hot streak.

By the way, the Stuttgart prize money is 133, 250 in Euros which is worth a lot more than $133, 250 in U.S. dollars. As far as I can tell, the ATP fantasy game is quoting the prize money in US dollars and equating one U.S. dollar to one euro to avoid any confusion.

Stuttgart draw

Los Angeles (hard court, $73, 000)

Fernando Gonzalez is the only sure thing in the top half of the draw because Tommy Haas, the defending champion, dropped out at the last minute.

Here’s my favorite statistic this week: Fabrice Santoro with his two handers off both sides and a dizzying array of slices and unexpected tactics, has beaten Marat Safin seven out of the nine times they’ve played. That’s pure testament to the value of annoying an opponent who is as easily annoyed as Safin. Recreational players take note, that stuff works on the professional level too.

James Blake does not get annoyed by Santoro but he has lost to Gonzalez the last five times they’ve met. No matter, Blake and Gonzalez should make it to the final so choose both of them. Blake has never gone far at Cincinnati or Montreal and he’s never done well at Madrid or Paris either so don’t worry about saving him.

Los Angeles draw

Amersfoort (clay, first prize: $55, 820)

Nicolas Massu beat Carlos Moya and got to the final here last year but this year he has Nikolay Davydenko in the first round. Still, Davyndenko is too up and down to be a dependable fantasy pick.

Carlos Moya and Nicolas Almagro could meet in the quarterfinals. Almagro beat Moya today to reach the Bastad final and I think he can do it twice in a row. I also have Almagro over Nikolay Davydenko

If Youzhny doesn’t lose in the first round he should meet Igor Andreev in the semifinals. That match is a tossup but my subleague savior Shaun pointed out that we can’t pick Andreev because he was ranked below 100 when the fantasy season started. Oy, when are they going to change the available players to reflect the top 100 each week?????

Amersfoort draw

Picks

I’m picking Nadal, Berdych, David Ferrer and Canas at Stuttgart. I’d like to pick three players at Los Angeles but there isn’t a sure third player. Tursunov was a finalist last year but he’s not done anything this year so I’m going with Blake and Gonzalez. At Amersfoort I have Almagro and Youzhny.

My team: Nadal, Berdych, Ferrer, Canas, Blake, Gonzalez, Almagro, Youzhny.

Happy fantasies!


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See also:
Interview with a Modest James Blake

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