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I’m a bit exhausted after living through Roger Federer’s five set battle with Rafael Nadal earlier today at Wimbledon. Tennis attracted a few more fans with that tense and magnificent final. Roger admitted that he was lucky to get through and win his fifth straight title and he was.
I had some luck at Wimbledon too. I picked seven of the eight quarterfinalists. Philipp Kohlschreiber was a bad pick but the top eight seeds won’t all make it to the quarterfinals so you have to pick one or two surprises. Juan Carlos Ferrero was the surprise this year.
You may have thought the grass court season was over but it’s not. There’s one more largely insignificant grass court tournament in Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.A., home of the Tennis Hall of Fame. The clay court season isn’t over yet either, there are eight more to go, if you can believe that, and two of them take place this week in the rhyming European cities of Bastad and Gstaad.
BASTAD (clay, first prize: $55, 820)
The first prize is low but there are no high priced tournaments this week. Nicolas Almagro dropped out of the top thirty and that means he could meet Tommy Robredo, the defending champion, in the quarterfinals. Almagro beat Robredo in Harmburg in their only meeting but I still think Robredo is the stronger player. Whoever wins that match gets Carlos Moya.
There’s a tough choice at the bottom of the draw because Juan Monaco and David Ferrer have both had good results on clay this year. I’ll take Monaco because he’s 2-0 over Ferrero on clay.
GSTAAD (clay, first prize: $58, 700)
Richard Gasquet is the defending champion and he’s still in this draw as I write but check to see if he withdraws before you choose your team. Wimbledon was a long journey for him. More importantly, you should save Gasquet for the slams and Masters Series events instead of wasting him here.
When there are two or three tournaments to pick from in one week, pick the players with the easiest path to the semifinals or final. Mikhail Youzhny and Philipp Kohlschreiber have the easiest paths to the semifinals in Gstaad.
Nikolay Davydenko does not. He should meet Paul-Henri Mathieu in the quarterfinals and that match is a tossup. They’re 2-2 on clay against each other going back to the year 2000 but neither player has ever done well in Gstaad. Mathieu has been more consistent on clay this year so I’m going with him.
NEWPORT (grass, first prize: $66, 850)
This tournament is a mess to pick because the top seed, Mardy Fish, lost both of his grass court matches this year. Anthony Dupuis could come through qualifying and he got to the semifinals at ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Nicolas Mahut is in the main draw and he almost took the title from Andy Roddick at London/Queen’s Club. You can’t pick either of these last two players for your fantasy team, though, because they were both out of the top 100 when the fantasy season started.
Three of the four qualifiers are in Fish’s draw – how strange is that? – and if one of them is Dupuis, it could be trouble for Fish. Still Fish is likely to get to the semifinals before losing to Mahut.
The bottom quarter of the draw is a complete mess so I’m going to ignore it. Just above that it looks like Fabrice Santoro has the easiest path to the semifinals.
Newport is the richest tournament but not by much and Mahut is likely to win that anyway so I’m only picking Fish and Santoro. I’ll ignore Gasquet’s quarter of the draw at Gstaad and pick the other possible semifinalists: Mathieu, Kohlschreiber and Youzhny. The three strongest players in Bastad are Robredo, Moya and Monaco.
My team: Fish, Santoro, Mathieu, Kohlschreiber, Youzhny, Robredo, Moya, and Monaco.
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