Category Archives: AMS Cincinnati

Eleven of the top twenty ATP players were on the blistering courts in Cincinnati today and lots of them, six to be exact, lost. The scoreboard looked more topsy turvy than the roller coaster ride at Kings Island which does repeated 360 rotations while dropping you 138 feet. Very hard on the tummy.

For starters, Nicolas Almagro beat Ivan Ljubicic, Sam Querry beat Mikhail Youzhny, Carlos Moya beat Novak Djokovic, and Juan Carlos Ferrero took out Fernando Gonzalez.

Oy, what is wrong with Gonzalez? He has yet to win a match in the summer hardcourt swing. And what’s up with clay courter Almagro? He has now won a total of four matches on hardcourt in this year.

Kings Island is next to the stadium so Rafael Nadal could probably see that rollercoaster during his match with Juan Monaco. But it was his forearm, not his tummy, that was bothering him. He was hitting his forehand short and putting drop shots into the net. He still managed to get to the first set tiebreaker but he lost it then called for the trainer and by the time he was down 1-4 in the second set, he retired.

Lleyton Hewitt beat Richard Gasquet who retired with a blister on his right hand. After the match Gasquet said: “Two days ago, I couldn’t touch my racket, but yesterday it was better.”

I’m only a fantasy tennis player. I don’t pay anything to play the ATP fantasy tennis game and if I win, my prize will be a South African safari for two. But if I were a gambler and I’d put a few thousand dollars on Gasquet, I’d be pretty mad to find out he couldn’t pick up a racket just two days ago and I knew nothing about it.

Here we go again. Lack of injury disclosure. We didn’t know that Nikolay Davydenko had a stress fracture in his foot when he lost that highly suspicious match to Martin Vassallo-Arguello in Sopot. Over $7 million dollars was laid on the match at Betfair.com, much of it against Davydenko after he’d already won the first set 6-2. Davydenko ended up retiring in the third set.

I’m obsessed with this injury disclosure thing. I didn’t pick James Blake for my fantasy team this week because he withdrew from Montreal last week with an abdominal strain. Without specifically knowing his current condition, how did I know whether to pick him this week or not? He looked like it was bothering him in his victory over Nicolas Kiefer today – he wasn’t extending on overheads or getting much topspin on his second serve – but after the match he said it was indigestion.

Why is it that I don’t believe him? I find myself trying to decode verbal and visual signals in the absence of real information. It’s like trying to read cues from your lover. If you read too much into his or her facial expressions, you’ll be accused of being paranoid. If you ignore them, you’ll be accused of neglect.

I’ve been in contact with a Betfair user that bet on that Davydenko match and followed the situation closely, by the way. I should be writing something about it in the next few days.


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Read about the Tall Dudes in Cincinnati

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The U.S. is turning out tall dudes who serve big.

John Isner is a shade over 6ft 9in and he hit a 125mph (201km/h) second serve in Cincinnati today. Damn that’s quick. Isner has really awkward ground strokes though. He stands straight up when he hits the ball. With all that height, imagine how hard he could hit it if he bent his knees a tad.

Isner was ranked number 745 less than a month ago. Then he won a challenger and hit 144 aces in Washington and now his ranking is 192. Today he hit only nine aces and lost in straight sets to David Ferrer, 7-6(3), 6-3.

Amer Delic is similar. He’s 6ft 5in and he’s good as long as he gets his first serve in. He couldn’t get it in often enough today and he fell to Ivan Ljubicic, 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-3.

The U.S. is turning out tall dudes with big serves and they are hopeless once they leave hard courts. Sam Querrey is 6ft 6in. He played six clay court tournaments this year and lost in the first round four times. That was so discouraging that he lost in the first round of his next four tournaments.

Querrey is slightly different from Isner and Delic because he has a baseline game. He had a beautiful thirty stroke rally today with Marc Gicquel, a master retriever. Querrey lost the point but he won the match, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4

Every day on my way to the media room at last week’s WTA event in Los Angeles, I passed a demo of a synthetic red clay court. They’re rare in the U.S. but there are a few thousand of them in Europe. No watering necessary and the lines are painted on. The USTA should start peppering the country with these things and see if the U.S. can turn out some tall dudes who can serve big but also have the patience to construct a point.

It’s a lot cheaper than sending all our juniors to a tennis academy in Barcelona for their teenage years.

Finally, a New Poll

I kept forgetting to change the poll over there on the right side of this page. As a result, it had some interesting numbers. The poll asked the following question: How many Wimbledons will Rafael Nadal win?

Originally, the choices were 1, 2, and 3 or more. I left out 0 because I assumed most people watched Nadal lose Wimbledon by a hair to Roger Federer this year. Someone disagreed and added the choice 0 and that turned out to be the winner.

It only won by one vote but you have to wonder what those people were watching. Nadal is only getting better on grass. Today I’m putting up a new poll and I’m leaving the 0 off again. Here’s the question:

What are Roger Federer’s chances of winning the U.S. Open? 25%? 50%? 75%? 100%?

They just went down with his loss to Novak Djokovic in Montreal and they’d already suffered with Federer’s other hard court results. We just started our fourth hard court Masters Series event of the year and he has yet to win one.

Look to the right side of this page and do your duty. Vote!


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We’re deep into the ATP Fantasy Tennis Season so check out my Fantasy Tennis Guide. You’ll find Fast Facts, Strategies, and Statistics to help you play the game.

Sign up and join our subleague! It’s called tennisdiary.com. We send weekly email updates to all subleague members before the submission deadline.

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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Madrid will replace Hamburg, Shanghai will replace Madrid, and Monte Carlo will be left out.

I assume everyone here knows the game musical chairs. If not, just think of it like this: someone starts up the music and a bunch of people walk around a collection of chairs. As soon as the music stops, everyone has to find a chair to sit on. Problem is, there’s one less chair than there are people so someone ends up on the floor.

In the musical chairs game that comprises the 2009 ATP schedule, Monte Carlo found a chair but could still end up on their butt.

When the ATP settled its suit with Monte Carlo last week, they allowed it to keep its Masters Series designation – Masters 1000 as it will be called – but removed it as a required tournament.

Madrid will move from the fall indoor season to the spring clay court season. This is important because the sneak-peek 2009 calendar I’ve seen puts Madrid into Hamburg’s slot and since Monte Carlo is no longer a required event, people like Roger Federer will probably play Rome, skip a week then play Madrid, then rest one week before playing Roland Garros.

Rafael Nadal usually plays Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome before resting up for Roland Garros. This year he played Hamburg too and lost because he was tired. Nadal will surely play Barcelona and Madrid as he is a Spanish player and that means he will likely skip Monte Carlo because that will be one tournament too many.

A lot of other Spanish players will do the same thing and clearly the hard court players won’t waste their time in Monte Carlo if they don’t have too. No one cares about the hard court players but the Kings of Clay come from Spain so Monte Carlo will be left with a bunch of second tier players trying to make Masters Series money.

By they way, completing our game of musical chairs, Shanghai will get a new Masters 1000 event and take over for Madrid. That means we now have eight required Masters 1000 events instead of nine and that was the point.

Here they are: Indian Wells, Miami, Rome, Madrid, Canada, Cincinnati, Shanghai, Paris.


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