Category Archives: Igor Andreev

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This week’s submission deadline is Monday morning, April 28, 4am (EST) in the U.S. and 10am (CET) in Europe.

I made a mistake last week. Well, I made a few, but one in particular stood out. I picked Carlos Moya for my team without noticing that he’d gone out in the first round the past three years. Pay attention to such information even if I forget. Of course, who’d a thunk that Sam Querrey would beat Moya and I find it interesting that James Blake took a wild card to Barcelona this week. Querrey reached the quarterfinals, for heaven’s sake, and that should embarrass both Blake and Andy Roddick enough to get their butts over to Europe immediately.

Keep slogging along here with your complete season strategy because, remember, there are seven Masters Series events and three slams in the season. For instance, you should probably use Rafael Nadal for the three clay Masters events, Roland Garros, and Wimbledon because you can only use him five times.

There are two tournaments this week. Barcelona is on clay and pays $209, 692 for a first prize. Munich is also on clay and pays $90, 923 to its winner. Given the disparity in the first prize money, let’s pick five of our eight players from Barcelona and three from Munich.

I keep waiting for Nicolas Almagro to step up at required events and it hasn’t happened yet except for a quarterfinal here and there, so pick him for Barcelona because it’s one of the highest paying optional events. Almagro won’t get past Nadal but he’s a good candidate for the semifinals over Andy Murray who has an 8-13 career record on clay.

I suppose it’s time to start thinking about how to use David Nalbandian and David Ferrer this year. Nalbandian is up and down at Roland Garros and the U.S. Open and hasn’t done well at Hamburg. He’s golden at Madrid – in last four years he’s never done worse than semis – but his win in Paris last year was an anomaly. And forget about the summer hard court Masters events. That means I have to try and get three tournaments out of him in the clay court season and since I didn’t pick him last week – one of those mistakes – I have to use him this week. I just hope Stanislaw Wawrinka doesn’t take him out.

Ferrer is having a good year and he got to the semifinals at the U.S. Open last year so I’d save him for that. The question is whether to save him for the remaining Masters events or not. He hasn’t done well and Rome or Madrid the past few years and he’s never done well in Canada but he has a legitimate shot at the remaining three Masters events. However, I think he’ll make the final in Barcelona because he’s 4-0 over Nalbandian on clay and Barcelona pays more than a quarterfinal in Cincinnati (the dollar ain’t worth much today) so I’m picking him this week and then saving him for Hamburg and Paris.

I’m going with Juan-Carlos Ferrero over Carlos Moya even though Moya is 3-0 over Ferrero in their last three clay matches because, for some reason, Moya cannot seem to play well in Barcelona. Guillermo Canas has been sinking so I’m taking Tommy Robredo over him in their quarter.

Barcelona draw

Let’s go from the Spanish tournament with all those Spanish clay court players to the German tournament with all those German not-so-good-at-clay court players. I’m hesitant to pick Igor Andreev because he lost to Steve Darcis, who is in his quarter, last year and he’s in Fernando Gonzalez’ quarter. And Fernando is 6-0 on clay this year, but Andreev is on a roll and he beat Fernando the last two times they played on clay.

From the top half I’m going with two players. Paul-Henri Mathieu lost early in Monte Carlo but he’s never gone past the first round in Monte Carlo and he had a big clay court season last year in optional events. Philipp Kohlschreiber is my second pick here because he has good results here and his quarter is weak.

Munich draw

My Pick
Almagro, Ferrer, Nalbandian, Ferrero, Robredo, Andreev, Mathieu, Kohlschreiber

Happy fantasies!

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 248 user reviews.

Let’s finish up this week’s picks and previews for Acapulco and hopefully I’ll get to Maria Sharapova on Wednesday.

I did pick one finalist and one semifinalist in Buenos Aires last week, otherwise everything is a total bloody mess and the week has barely started. Aj, would you please write the picks next week, you seem to know what’s going on. As you correctly predicted, Michael Llodra has withdrawn from Zagreb.

Not only that, but Fabrice Santoro retired against Olivier Rochus in Zagreb with an elbow problem and in Memphis, John Isner has already lost and James Blake pulled out with a knee injury of some sort. That’s three of my picks down and it’s only Monday. Oh, and Tommy Haas looks like his shoulder is o.k. and he eats Memphis up when he’s healthy.

Acapulco (clay)

It looks like they packed up last week’s tournament in Buenos Aires and shipped it here. David Nalbandianand Potito Starace sit in the first quarter along with two other players who were also in the top quarter at Buenos Aires. Unless Nalbandian is tired from taking the title at Buenos Aires, he should meet Starace in the quarterfinals again.

Unlike last week, I think Starace wins this because the match was close and Nalbandian struggled a few times in Buenos Aires.

Carlos Moya jumped over Juan Monaco in the rankings so Monaco is anchoring the second quarter with Juan Ignacio Chela. Chela won this tournament last year and got to the finals the year before. Agustin Calleri should be his second round opponent and Chela beat him here last year so Chela should get to the quarterfinals.

I’m picking Chela over Monaco because Monaco has a 1-3 record at this tournament and Chela has beaten him the last two times they’ve met.

Igor Andreev lost his first round match to Alberto Montanes. Montanes had a pretty good year on clay last year but he’s 0-4 against Jose Acasuso who’s in his quarter. If Acasuso can’t take out Guillermo Canas, Montanes is 0-2 against Canas.

Canas hasn’t played on clay this year and Acasuso got to the final last week so I’m putting Acasuso in the semifinals.

The bottom quarter is pretty strong. Nicolas Almagro, Filippo Volandri, and Moya are here. Almagro has a slightly better record than Volandri here and he’s beaten Moya in their last two matches so he’s the final semifinalist.

Acapulco Draw

Semifinalists: Starace, Chela, Acasuso, Almagro
Final: Starace, Almagro
Winner: Almagro

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 250 user reviews.

The first grand slam of the year has arrived and the number one ranking is already in question.

Think about this for a minute: Roger Federer could lose the number one ranking to Rafael Nadal by the end of the Australian Open. Will it happen? Let’s see.

Roger Federer’s Quarter

Juan Monaco and Tomas Berdych are waiting around in the top half of Federer’s quarter but Monaco still isn’t good enough on hard court and 2004 was the last time Berdych beat Federer.

In the bottom half of Federer’s quarter there are a few stories. Ivan Ljubicic’s ranking has been sinking since last August and I don’t expect him to recover. James Blake dropped out of the top ten last October and is currently ranked number 15. I don’t expect him to drop further but I also don’t expect him to get back to the top ten. Ljubicic has a 4-1 record over Blake but his victories came over two years ago and Blake won their last match. If they meet in the fourth round, Blake should win.

Then we come to Fernando Gonzalez. He reached the final here last year then played through the most wildly inconsistent year I’ve every seen from a top player. He lost his first match in eight tournaments yet still ended up in the top ten. Well, except for Nikolay Davydenko who also lost his first match in eight tournaments but we expect that from him.

If Gonzalez gets to the fourth round and meets Blake, he should be golden because he’s won their last five matches. That would put him in the quarterfinals against Federer but Gonzalez can’t win that match.

Novak Djokovic’s Quarter

Marcos Baghdatis is in Novak Djokovic’s half of this quarter but he’s right up there with Gonzalez and Davydenko for inconsistency. Still, Baghdatis should be able to beat Lleyton Hewitt and that should put him in the fourth round against Djokovic. That will be as far as Baghdatis gets because he’s lost both of his matches to Djokovic.

I think Nicolas Kiefer will take out Juan Carlos Ferrero in the first round. Kiefer is one of my two dark horses. He could get to the fourth round because David Nalbandian is having trouble with back spasms. That wouldn’t be shocking because Kiefer got to the semifinals here in 2006. He’d meet David Ferrer and though he beat Ferrer in their only meeting, this time Ferrer should prevail.

I’d love to tell you that Ferrer could beat Djokovic in the quarterfinals but I’d be lying. Djokovic has beaten Ferrer every time they’ve met on hard courts and he beat him in straight sets at last year’s U.S. Open.

Nikolay Davydenko’s Quarter

My second dark horse is Stanislas Wawrinka. I say he beats Davydenko in the third round then loses to Mikhail Youzhny. The big match here is a possible fourth round matchup between Richard Gasquet and Andy Murray. I think one of them gets out of this quarter and into the semifinals. Which one?

This is the toughest match in the draw to call because Gasquet and Murray have similar hard court records. Gasquet has beaten Murray both times they’ve met but that’s not why I’m choosing him. I just think Gasquet is a bit more mature than Murray and is ready to reach the semifinals here.

Rafael Nadal’s Quarter

We’ve been concerned about Nadal’s fragility on hard courts and we saw it again in Chennai two weeks ago. Nadal survived a four hour semifinal with Carlos Moya then suffered a lopsided loss in the final the day after. This doesn’t happen on clay and it doesn’t even happen at Wimbledon. Nadal played seven straight days in Wimbledon last year due to the rain and still got to the final.

Given Nadal’s fragility I didn’t think he’d go far here but now I’ve changed my mind. I was expecting a knock down drag out fight between Moya and Nadal in the fourth round but Moya has bombed out in the first round the last three years. He just beat his first round opponent, Stefan Koubek, in Sydney last week but Koubek won both their hard court matches last year. And Moya lost to his second round opponent, Agustin Calleri, in Sydney.

That leaves Andy Roddick in the top half of Nadal’s quarter. Philipp Kohlschreiber should be Roddick’s third round opponent and I wanted to pick him as one of my dark horses because he just won Auckland. But Roddick takes care of business in slams so let’s look at Roddick versus Nadal in the quarterfinals.

Nadal beat Roddick in the semifinals at Indian Wells last year so I’m going with Nadal to get to the semis.

Australian Open Draw

My Picks

Semifinalists: Roger Federer plays Novak Djokovic, Richard Gasquet plays Rafael Nadal.
Finalists: Federer, Gasquet
Winner: Federer

The answer is no, Federer won’t lose his number one ranking but Nadal may get even closer to the top.

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 165 user reviews.

The Davis Cup final is finally finished after two meaningless matches. Let’s see what it all means.

an•ti•cli•max (ān’tē-klī’māks’, ān’tī-) n.

  1. Something trivial or commonplace that concludes a series of significant events.
  2. The act of sitting through the fourth and fifth rubber of a Davis Cup tie after the home team has already clinched the title by winning the first three rubbers.

I did sit through Bob Bryan’s match with Igor Andreev even though it was a dead rubber – the results did not affect the outcome. The U.S. clinched the Davis Cup title last night after Bob and his brother Mike took the doubles rubber and concluded a dominating weekend of tennis.

You have to wonder how anyone could play today after Saturday night’s celebration as described by Bob Bryan:

We spent a couple of hours here just dumping champagne all over each other. Then we went out to a local spot and danced, did everything. We had a long, drawn-out celebration.

I left to play some indoor tennis myself after Bob’s match was over, but before I left I had a few thoughts about this title and this weekend.

Will the U.S. Repeat?

It depends how many ties they have to play on clay. They beat the Czech team on clay this year but the Czechs don’t have anyone other than Tomas Berdych.

The U.S. avoided Argentina on clay because Sweden beat them on a fast surface at home. Can you imagine having to play David Nalbandian on any surface this fall? He won two Masters Series events in a row after never having won even one of them.

If the U.S. has an early match against a weaker opponent on clay they should be okay – they won a tie on clay early last year too over Belgium. But if they have to play a semifinal or final on clay, it’s not gonna happen. They were bounced out of the Davis Cup on clay in three of the last six years so let’s say they have a less than 50/50 chance.

Biggest Surprise

No doubt about it: James Blake. He took the one match the Russians hoped to win by beating Mikhail Youzhny in the second rubber and he did it after failing to serve out the match at the end of the fourth set.

Blake failed under pressure in the third set tiebreaker too but he kept at it and his victory made this competition a route.

Against all odds, he does seem to keep getting better. It’s not happening as fast as I’d like. He’s still terrible in five-setters and he dropped out of the top ten this year after going to the year end championships last year. But this week was a big step forward. He not only won a critical match but he won the fifth rubber over Dmitry Tursunov after losing the first set 6-1.

I’m pretty excited to see if it carries over to next year.

Let’s Give Marat Safin Some Love

This is the essentially the same team that won the Davis Cup title over Argentina last year except for Marat Safin and they won it on a fast indoor surface similar to this week’s surface in Portland. Safin won the doubles match with Tursunov and clinched the title with a victory in the fifth rubber.

Safin also won both his singles matches when Russia beat France in the 2002 final.

Safin hasn’t had a great season this year but his ranking is actually one point higher than it was at the end of last year. He hasn’t yet recovered from his Tibetan mountain trip but if he had, he might have given Russia the emotional fire they were sorely lacking.

Do We Like Unlimited Challenges?

No we do not. Challenges have joined bathroom breaks and unnecessary injury timeouts as tools of gamesmanship. If your opponent is serving up aces and you have unlimited challenges, call up a few hopeless challenges to mess with his rhythm. At the very least it’ll create confusion as it did this weekend.

In the second set tiebreaker in the match between Blake and Youzhny, Blake challenged one of Youzhny’s first serves which had been called out. Blake hit a return winner off the serve so he wanted to the ball to be in. It turned out the serve was out so the chair umpire gave Youzhny another first serve because the wait for the challenge result had delayed Youzhny’s second serve.

Oh great tennis gods, make up your mind. If you give players unlimited challenges then both sides should be able to deal with the delay. A better approach would be to allow only three challenges so they can’t be used to mess with an opponent’s head. If you’re concerned that a match could be decided by a bad call because a player’s challenges are all used up, do what the National Football League does.

In the final two minutes of each half of an NFL game, the replay official in the booth can call for an instant replay if the official thinks it’s necessary. In a tennis match, allow the chair umpire to call for a challenge in a deciding game or tiebreaker if the umpire thinks it’s necessary.

Politics

By the time I got back from playing tennis, the award ceremony was in full swing and now I know who U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe is voting for in next year’s Presidential election.

I didn’t get the exact quote but when McEnroe thanked his players for their classy behavior as members of the Davis Cup team, he made a point of saying that it hasn’t been easy traveling the world as a representative of the U.S. in the past few years.

If that is not a political statement about the war in Iraq, I am not a tennis fan.


I wrote about the deciding doubles match yesterday and the first day of Davis Cup on Friday. You can also see if my predictions were correct. Of course they were!

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 289 user reviews.

The Bryan twins won the doubles rubber to clinch a Davis Cup title and there’s still one more day to go.

After Bob Bryan smashed the last volley and saw it bounce high over the heads of Nikolay Davydenko and Igor Andreev, he turned back to his twin brother Mike, spread his arms and beamed in disbelief and joy.

The twins had just clinched the 2007 Davis Cup title for the U.S. and it had been a long time coming. The U.S. had not won a title for 12 years and the Bryans had been dreaming about this moment for their entire lives.

I was so happy that I was actually crying. I can’t help it. I get patriotic. I was happy for Andy Roddick because a Davis Cup title was his dream too and he has absolutely carried this team on his back for the past few years. I was happy for James Blake because he got an unexpected victory over Mikhail Youzhny in what he called the best win of his career.

How could you not be happy for these guys?

The only thing that’s making me unhappy is the wait. The cup won’t be handed out till the last two meaningless matches are played tomorrow evening. And that was the only problem this weekend: the tennis was too one-sided.

There were a few tiebreakers here and there and one four set match but it was all over too soon. No marathon five set matches or 17-15 scores and, really, no doubt about the outcome except for the set Blake dropped and his failure to hold serve to end his match.

The doubles match was interesting if only to see whether a couple of very good singles players could hold their own against the number one doubles team in the world. These days top singles players skip doubles because they don’t need the money. Back when they did need the money, you were likely to find the same players at the top of the singles and doubles rankings.

Would the Bryans be anywhere near as successful if all the top singles players took up doubles again? Yes they would and today we found out why.

Virtually all of the top singles players are baseliners and that goes for Davydenko and Andreev too. And most of the top players serve big. But it was the Bryans who won most of the baseline rallies and as for the serve, Bob Bryan put 27 out of his first 29 first serves into the court. The first set went to a tiebreaker but after that it was no contest.

That could also be said for this year’s Davis Cup final.


Read more about the first day of Davis Cup here and see if our predictions were accurate.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 157 user reviews.