This week’s submission deadline is Monday, July 28th, 10am (EST) in the U.S./4pm (CET) in Europe.
This week we have our second consecutive Masters Series event, this time in Cincinnati, and the same players are here because it’s a required event. We need eight players for our fantasy team so let’s pick the quarterfinalists.
Cincinnati draw (hard court, first prize: $420, 000)
Notice, again, that the prize money is about $130, 000 less than the remaining Masters events in Europe.
I thought I had Roger Federer’s section covered last week in Toronto because Fernando Gonzalez had a career 7-1 record over Jose Acasuso, but Acasuso went out and won that match. Acasuso and Mario Ancic are in Federer’s section this week, but Ancic has never been past the third round in Canada or Cincinnati, and Acasuso is 0-3 against Federer – including a straight set loss in Miami this year. I didn’t use Federer last week and that was a good decision because he lost his first match, but should I still save him or will he bounce back and take the title in Cincinnati? Andy Murray beat Federer two years ago here and he beat him in Dubai this year, so Federer might not make it to the final. I’m going to save him and see if he can make more money at the U.S. Open and Madrid. So who should I pick in this section?
Ivo Karlovic hasn’t gone past the third round of a hard court event all year. Acasuso reached the third round in Toronto last week and he reached the quarterfinals here three years ago so Acasuso it is.
Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Andy Roddick at the Australian Open this year but he’s 1-4 on hard court since then. Robin Soderling beat Roddick in Memphis for Roddick’s only loss indoors this year. In Soderling’s last three hard court events, he’s gone out to Richard Gasquet, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic, and that ain’t bad. I have a sneaky feeling that Roddick might redeem himself this week, but I want to save him for the US Open and Paris – where he reached the semifinals last year – so I’m going with Soderling.
I’d like to pick Nikolay Davydenko in his section but he’s reached the semifinals at the US Open for the past two years and won Moscow two out of the last three years, so I’m saving him. Janko Tipsarevic has never done much in the summer hard court season. Igor Andreev has good results on hard court this year while Radek Stepanek hasn’t beaten anyone on that surface. If you’ve got any more picks left for Andreev, take him.
Murray got his knee taped up in his semifinal loss to Rafael Nadal today. Check the injury reports tomorrow before you pick him. Richard Gasquet is in this section along with Dmitry Tursunov and Tursunov has beaten Gasquet two of the three times they’ve met on hard court this year. However, neither player has been past the second round here. Sam Querrey is here too and he reached the quarterfinals last year and he beat Tursunov at the Australian Open. Since then, though, he hasn’t been past the second round in a big hard court event. I’ve only got one more Gasquet pick left and I’m not sure Murray’s going to be here so I’m going with Tursunov.
James Blake was disappointed about going out in the quarterfinals in Toronto, but he did win $51, 000 and he’d have to take the title at Washington or New Haven to make more than that. The problem is that he’ll face either Nicolas Kiefer or Gilles Simon in his first match. Kiefer beat him in Toronto and reached the final, Simon beat Federer and reached the semifinals, and Ernests Gulbis and Stanislaw Wawrinka are here too. Oy! That’s a tough section.
Wawrinka has done well on hard court but he hasn’t beaten anyone strong and he’s never been past the second round here. Gulbis might break out this week but I’m not counting on it. You know what, I’m going with Blake again because I don’t know who’s going to win the Simon-Kiefer first round match and I don’t expect either player to do well in two straight Masters events. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them dropped out. And Blake reached the final here last year.
I used my fourth Novak Djokovic pick last week so I’m saving my last pick for the US Open. That’s too bad really because he’s got an easy section. Feliciano Lopez has gone out in the first round here the past three years and he’s only made it past the third round of a hard court tournament once this year. Fernando Gonzalez is 3-0 over Berdych and 1-0 over Andreas Seppi, so I’m going with Gonzalez.
Last week I chose Richard Gasquet over David Ferrer despite the fact that Ferrer had beaten him in their last two matches because Ferrer doesn’t have a good record in Canada. But Ferrer reached the quarterfinals in Cincinnati the past two years and he can certainly beat Fernando Verdasco on hard court, but can he beat Marin Cilic? Cilic beat Andy Roddick to get to the quarterfinals last week but I think Ferrer can outsteady him. Still, I’m saving Ferrer for the US Open and Paris where he can make more money because he’s in Nadal’s quarter so he’s unlikely to get to the semifinals unless Nadal develops a good case of the blisters. Cilic it is.
I’ve used Nadal four times already so I’m saving him for the US Open. That means I have to choose between Tommy Haas and Mikhail Youzhny and that’s tough because they play in the first round. Haas reached the quarterfinals at Indianapolis and both players went out in the second round in Toronto. I think Haas can beat Youzhny if he’s healthy so I’m picking Haas.
Here are my picks: Acasuso, Soderling, Andreev, Tursunov, Blake, Gonzalez, Cilic, Haas.