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The deadline for picking your team this week is Monday, August 13, 10am EST, 4pm CET.

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

I got only half of the quarterfinalists in Montreal and that ain’t good but look at it this way: I’m still in 23rd place in the standings and Fernando Gonzalez, Tommy Robredo, Tomas Berdych and Richard Gasquet were all gone by the time the third round rolled around.

Radek Stepanek got to the semifinals, for heaven’s sake, so we’ll have to make a decision about him. Novak Djokovic knocked Rafael Nadal out and that’s important because Nadal has a big lead in this year’s race and he could have made a significant step towards the number one ranking.

Cincinnati (hard court, first prize: $400, 000)

Court speed is a significant factor this week. Tennisinsight.com gives Cincinnati a percentile of just under 2% versus other hard courts. This means that it plays faster than 98% of the other hard court tournaments. Montreal is playing at about 19% which means it’s about 17% slower.

That may explain why Andy Roddick has won this tournament twice and also explains why I won’t be choosing Nikolay Davydenko.

Roger Federer’s Quarter

As usual, the idea is to pick two guys from each quarter to make up our 8 player team. Federer should be an easy pick but he’s not wild about back to back one week Masters Series events. Last year he lost here in the second round to Andy Murray and his record in Canada is far better than here. But he has won this thing and Nadal is breathing down his neck so you have to pick him.

As for the bottom part of his quarter: good luck. Everyone told me I shouldn’t have picked Tommy Robredo last week and they were right and they’re probably still right.

Ivan Ljubicic was having a good year on hard court until he lost to a qualifier in the first round at Montreal. He reached the quarterfinals at Indian Wells and the semifinals at Miami. Jarkko Nieminen is in this quarter but Ljubicic beat him at Miami so I’m going with Ljubicic.

Novak Djokovic’s Quarter

Djokovic is in the final against Federer today so he he’ll be tired. He did reach the Indian Wells final then win Miami which are consecutive Masters Series events, but they’re two week events, not one. Still, there’s really no competition in his part of the quarter so you have to take him.

Lleyton Hewitt and Richard Gasquet should meet in the second round and that’s a tough pick. Hewitt beat him last year at the US Open but Gasquet is the better player, it’s just that he’s so maddeningly inconsistent.

Tommy Haas got to the third round in Montreal before losing to Stepanek so he could easily get one round further. He plays Mario Ancic in the first round but Ancic has never done well on this hard court swing.

Since the Gasquet-Hewitt match is a tossup and either one could be gone early, I’m going with Haas.

Andy Roddick’s Quarter

My writing partner, Pat Davis, is picking Stepanek to beat Roddick. Stepanek almost beat Roddick in Washington and I like Stepanek’s game but I’m not picking him for two reasons: the court is fast and he could be out of kilter emotionally because his engagement to Martina Hingis was called off.

I’m not picking Davydenko because he’s got that stress fracture in his foot and hard courts are hard on feet. I think he played well last week to prove that he doesn’t tank matches and that motivation is now gone.

Tomas Berdych is something of an enigma. He plays better on clay and grass than he does on hard court. You can’t count on him to reach a quarterfinal in the summer hard court swing. His main competition here is Paul-Henri Mathieu but you can’t count on him to reach a hard court quarterfinal either. Berdych and Mathieu have never played each other.

Mathieu is 11-7 on hard courts this year while Berdych is 7-6 so Mathieu is my pick.

Rafael Nadal’s Quarter

Mikhail Youzhny beat Nadal the last two times they met on hard court but Nadal is now better on that surface and Youzhny is not.

James Blake has an abdominal muscle pull and they’re notorious for taking a long time to heal. Nicolas Kiefer isn’t available for ATP fantasy tennis because his ranking dropped too low due to injury and he’ll probably take out Marat Safin in the first round.

I don’t want to pick Fernando Gonzalez till he straightens himself out but he has a 3-0 record over Ferrero on fast courts so Gonzalez it is.

Cincinnati draw

My Picks

Here’s my team: Federer, Ljubicic, Djokovic, Haas, Mathieu, Roddick, Gonzalez and Nadal.

Happy fantasies!


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