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The deadline for picking your team this week is Monday, August 27, 10am EST, 4pm CET.
Rear View Mirror – a look at last week’s picks
I picked James Blake last week at New Haven because I’d failed to pick him at Cincinnati. Too little too late for me but better than nothing and hopefully it wasn’t too much for Blake. He won the title and thus played through the entire week instead of resting up for the U.S. Open.
Remember that we need eight players for our fantasy team. We need to pick the top eight finishers in the draw – the quarterfinalists – so I’m breaking the draw into eight parts.
Roger Federer’s Section
Federer has five qualifiers and Richard Gasquet in his part of the draw. Gasquet could reach up and play the kind of tennis that beat Andy Roddick at Wimbledon, but he lost his first match at Montreal and Cincinnati. Not a good thing for him but it makes our choice easy.
Andy Roddick’s Section
Tomas Berdych is a curious case. You lose track of him because he hasn’t done much then you look and see that he’s at a career high of number 9. But he does well on grass and clay, not hard court, and Paul-Henri Mathieu will probably beat him if he reaches the third round.
Andy Roddick has had a disappointing summer hard court season. He reached the quarterfinals at Montreal but only the third round at Cincinnati. But he should be able to get past Jose Acasuso and he beat Ivo Karlovic in straight sets in Washington earlier this month.
Mathieu has had a good year but his best results were on grass and clay too. He reached a semifinal this week in New Haven but didn’t beat anybody important. Roddick is shaky but there’s no one here to beat him.
Nikolay Davydenko’s Section
There are all kinds of people who could beat Nikolay Davydenko. He could meet Nicolas Kiefer in the second round but Kiefer didn’t do well in Montreal and Cincinnati and he had to drop out of the Los Angeles semifinal because his knee was bothering him. Nicolas Almagro reached the quarterfinals at Cincinnati but he’s 6-8 on hard courts for the year and Guillermo Canas is slumping.
Andy Murray can definitely beat him and he got to the semifinals at Indian Wells and Miami. But he’s only won one match since April and there are reports that his wrist is still bothering him.
Davydenko is my shaky pick and I hate it because he’s the most baffling and inconsistent top player. He reached the semifinals at the Open last year but it was the first time he’d been past the third round. This is all the more reason to wonder about that curious Sopot match. Who’d put big money on such an inconsistent player?
James Blake’s Section
Tommy Haas and Marcos Baghdatis should meet in the third round and that’s hard to pick if Haas is healthy.
Baghdatis hasn’t gone past the quarterfinals of a hard court event this year. He’s also never been past the second round at the Open due to his notorious lack of conditioning. The Open is physically hard to play because of the hype and those five set matches in the heat. Baghdatis cramped in his second round match here last year and that was at night, not in the noonday sun.
Haas has two quarterfinal finishes at the Open including last year, but I have the feeling the air is slowly leaking out of his tires. He played well through Indian Wells but hasn’t beaten anyone ranked higher than number 23 since. I’m giving this to Baghdatis.
Sam Querrey and James Blake should meet in the third round. Blake must be tired. He had to play two matches in one day at New Haven and it was his third tournament in a row. But Blake has had a slammin’ summer, two finals and a title, and he’s reached the quarterfinals at the Open for the last two years. He may not win a five set match but even if he’s tired, he can probably outlast Baghdatis and Querrey.
Tommy Robredo’s Section
You can probably forget about Tommy Robredo, he’s had an awful summer. He lost in the first round at Montreal and Cincinnati and only managed to win one match at New Haven. Enough said.
The showdown here would be a third round match between Carlos Moya and Mikhail Youzhny. But that’s only if Youzhny can get past Philipp Kohlschreiber who’s beaten him both times they’ve met.
This year and last, Youzhny has followed a pattern: good results at Dubai followed by terrible results at the rest of the hard court events. Last year that was followed by an explosion at the Open where he got to the semifinals and beat Rafael Nadal in the process. Will it happen again?
It might but I’m taking Moya because he reached the quarterfinals at Cincinnati and he’s been playing excellent tennis. He’s reached the semifinals or better at six tournaments this year.
Novak Djokovic’s Section
Mario Ancic and Radek Stepanek are lurking in this section but it should come down to Novak Djokovic and Lleyton Hewitt and this is the toughest pick to make.
Keep in mind that Lleyton Hewitt’s record at the Open is 36-6 and he’s having an excellent year. But Djokovic is having an even better year and he beat Federer to take the Montreal title. He should reach the semifinals at this year’s Open.
Fernando Gonzalez’ Section
Fernando, Fernando! Three straight losses on hard courts this summer, what’s up with that? Gonzalez barely beat qualifier Frank Dancevic at Indian Wells and will probably lose to him in the third round, but we can’t pick Dancevic because he isn’t available for fantasy tennis.
Marat Safin is here but I have Dancevic over him and I’d consider Juan Ignacio Chela but Ivan Ljubicic has beaten him six straight times. This pains me but I’m left with Ljubicic. If you’ve got a better idea, leave a comment and do it soon. The submission deadline is approaching.
Rafael Nadal’s Section
Rafael Nadal failed to reach the quarterfinals twice this year and both times he retired. He retired at Cincinnati with a forearm problem and that’s the only way he’ll fail to reach the quarterfinals here. If you’ve got a spy in the trainer’s room, pass the information on.
Here’s my team: Federer, Roddick, Davydenko, Blake, Moya, Djokovic, Ljubicic (ouch!), and Nadal.
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