Sign up and join our subleague! It’s called tennisdiary.com. We send weekly email updates to all subleague members before the submission deadline.
Rear View Mirror – a look at last week’s picks
I picked six of the eight quarterfinalists at Nottingham and zero quarterfinalists at ‘s-Hertogenbosch. That zero wasn’t entirely my fault. Marcos Baghdatis dropped out, two qualifiers got to the semifinals, and Ivan Ljubicic reached his first grass court final. I should have picked Tommy Robredo, though, he reached the semifinals twice at this event and I missed that.
Read more about Nottingham below.
Federer’s Half of the Draw
I’m picking Philipp Kohlschreiber as Roger Federer’s sacrificial lamb in the quarterfinals and that means I have Kohlschreiber over Fernando Gonzalez and James Blake. Gonzalez has been blowing his stack way too much this year and Kohlschreiber beat Blake at Halle. So here’s the deal: if you want to be conservative, take Blake or Gonzalez, that way no one can give you a hard time because you were silly enough to pick Kohlschreiber.
Andy Roddick has the easiest path to the quarterfinals. I’m not sold on him but he doesn’t have any of those younger, better players in his draw and Ivan Ljubicic doesn’t perform well at slams. That, by the way, encompasses our theme for this tournament: which young player is ready to step up and get into the quarterfinals of a slam? Richard Gasquet, Andy Murray, and Tomas Berdych have never gone past the fourth round.
Below Roddick there is a fascinating French triangle containing the toughest decision in this draw. Arnaud Clement beat Gasquet at Nottingham this week and they could meet again in the second round if Clement can beat Nicolas Mahut. Mahut, however, beat Clement at London/Queen’s Club last week and had a match point to win that tournament. The question is: can Mahut beat Gasquet?
This is a tough choice because the winner will probably meet Murray for a spot in the quarterfinals and Murray hasn’t played since he hurt his wrist at Hamburg. The answer to the question is: I don’t know if Mahut can beat Gasquet. But it might not matter and here’s why.
Even if Gasquet got past Mahut and met Murray in the fourth round, Gasquet hasn’t shown me that he’s mentally ready to get to a slam quarterfinal. I might not like Murray’s foul mouth and incessant mutterings – actually, I find them intriguing and embarrassing all at the same time, I feel like I’m sitting in a session at his therapist’s office – but there’s no question that he’s a fiery competitor. And, I saw his coach Brad Gilbert get Andre Agassi through to a French Open title off a bum shoulder, so if anyone can get Murray and his wrist to the quarterfinals, Gilbert can.
As for Mahut, he could go a long way but I’ve taken enough chances for one week by picking Kohlschreiber.
[Correction: Murray has pulled out of Wimbledon due to his wrist injury. Mahut is ranked below 100 and only the top 100 players can be chosen for an ATP fantasy team. Therefore I’m replacing Murray with Gasquet in the quarterfinals. Not much choice really.]
Nadal’s Half of the Draw
Except for consecutive third round appearances at the US Open, Novak Djokoivc has steadily progressed to later rounds in each slam so I expect him to get past Lleyton Hewitt and meet Baghdatis in the quarterfinals.
Berdych has the least competitive fire of all those youngsters, but he also has three clay court players in his immediate section and only has to beat Joan Bjorkman to get to his first quarterfinal.
Since I’m one of those people who doubt Rafael Nadal’s grass court skills, who should I pick to beat him? Robin Soderling doesn’t function well at slams and Mikhail Youzhny is not a good grass court player. Next is Berdych who’s beaten Nadal every time they’ve met on a fast surface. I don’t think Berdych can do it either, reaching a quarterfinal is a stretch for him.
Djokovic has reached a slam semifinal and Baghdatis a final but Djokovic is in much better shape so I’m counting on him to beat Nadal. I hope he does else I’ll look bad.
Here are my picks for the quarterfinalists (who also comprise the eight players on my fantasy team): Federer, Kohlschreiber, Roddick, Gasquet, Baghdatis, Djokovic, Berdych, and Nadal.
Who will Federer beat in the final to match Bjorn Borg’s record of five consecutive Wimbledons? Probably Djokovic.