Category Archives: ATP Tournaments

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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: 4.8 out of 5 based on 187 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

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In no particular order, here is the first installment of notable events from the year 2007.

Bad Tennis Predictions

I went on the Sports Talk Cleveland radio show early in the year and participated in a serpentine draft for their tennis fantasy league. In a serpentine draft, whoever picks first in one round picks last in the next round. After I won the right to take the first pick in the draft and learned that I’d get the last pick in the second round, I blurted out, “Does that mean I have to take Serena?” Silly me. Serena Williams dropped in to the Australian Open and rolled into the final where she gobsmacked Sharapova 6-1, 6-2. Roger Federer won the men’s title but, then, you knew that.

Megamerger Multimedia Disease Attacks Tennis

IMG bought Tennis Week, the venerable tennis publication started by the late, great Gene Scott 32 years ago. Not such a big deal until you realize that IMG also represents Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer (and Nick Bolletieri’s tennis academy). Is this yet another nail in the coffin of independent media? There is hope I suppose. The New York Times owns part of the Boston Red Sox and they still trash the Sox regularly. But it does make you wonder if Tennis Week would get interference from the head IMG guy if they trashed Sharapova for pulling out of Toronto because she stubbed her toe.

The Interview That Wasn’t

The P.R. firm for a wine that Jim Courier endorses offered me an interview with Courier. It started off as a telephone interview, then it was demoted to an email interview, and then it turned into nothing because Courier never answered my email. And that was after I spoke to my friend Bob Blumer, star of the Food Network show Glutton for Punishment, so I could get up to speed on old world wine versus new world wine. That was also after I picked Courier to be Richard Gasquet’s new coach because I thought Gasquet needed one. Gasquet didn’t need a new coach. He made it to the year end championships just fine thank you.

Pregnancy, Cocaine, and the Comeback Mommy of the Year

Anastasia Myskina and Kim Clijsters are both pregnant. That’s a better way to leave the tour than testing positive for cocaine. I’m sure Martina Hingis might have been happier if her engagement to Radek Stepanek had ended in marriage and she was taking a pregnancy test instead of a hair test to prove that she never touched the white stuff. Lindsay Davenport gave birth in June and returned to the tour three months later. So much for retirement. She went 13-1 in her comeback and plans to play in three slams in 2008.

The Media Wars

At the same time that Sports Illustrated laid off 298 employees, it paid $20 million for fannation.com, sports information and fan blogger site. The timing of these transactions made it look like S.I. was exchanging paid writers for unpaid fan bloggers, but the reality is a bit more complex. S.I. was trying to beef up its online presence and narrow the gap between si.com and the hugely popular espn.com. S.I. even poached ESPN radio personality Dan Patrick, but that must have pissed off ESPN because they turned around and stole S.I.’s back page columnist, Rick Reilly, with an unbelievable $3 million per year offer. Hey guys, I’m available and I’d take a lot less than $3 mil.

Back to Back to Back to Back

By the time I reached Indian Wells on Sunday afternoon in early March, Guillermo Canas had already beaten Federer for his biggest win since coming off a 15 month suspension for using a banned substance. He beat Federer again two weeks later in Miami and if that wasn’t bad enough, David Nalbandian raised himself from the dead, or at least from his lethargy, and beat Federer in consecutive meetings at the last two Masters Series events of the year, Madrid and Paris. And Nalbandian had never won a Masters Series event before! Not only that, but because I didn’t pick Nalbandian for my fantasy team in Paris, I dropped out of the top 100 in the ATP Fantasy Tennis Season for the first time all year and lost my subleague title. Serves me right for not believing in the guy.

To be continued…

Teddy Awards

Please go over to the poll on the right side of the page and vote for the player who is in most need of a new coach. I skipped Female Centerfold of the Year because Ana Ivanovic was the only player nominated.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 175 user reviews.

Davis Cup hard courts will be just right from now on, not too fast and not too slow. Boring!

After the U.S. won the Davis Cup title in smashing fashion by winning the first three rubbers in the final, I asked the following question: Can the U.S. win the Davis Cup again next year? I gave it a less than 50/50 shot at it because U.S. players are terrible on clay court surfaces.

I forgot that Davis Cup organizers at the International Tennis Federation (ITF) are adding rules to regulate hard court speeds. Now it’ll be even harder for the U.S. to repeat.

This year’s final was a home court event for the U.S. so they got to choose the playing surface. You can be sure they chose the fastest hard court they could get their hands on. If an ice skating rink had been available, they’d have used that.

In the future, Davis Cup rules will prevent countries from choosing a hard court surface that is too fast or too slow.

This hurts the U.S. because they specialize in hard servers and big hitters and they’ll be forced to choose a slower court next time. No word yet on what range of speeds is acceptable but it makes a difference. Roger Federer complained about the slowness of the court in Paris after he lost to David Nalbandian there.

I notice that the ITF hasn’t mentioned regulating the speed of clay courts. The indoor clay court Belgium used against the U.S. last year looked like a bunch of kids had thrown some loose clay on a gym floor so they could wallow around in it. At this point, the ruling change appears to benefit South America and Spain which have the largest number of clay court lovers.

If Spain met Argentina at home in Davis Cup next year, I wonder if they’d choose grass courts so Nadal could beat up on Argentina since he almost beat Federer at Wimbledon? Even better, why not just use that half-grass half-clay concoction Federer and Rafael Nadal played on last year?

Remember that the ITF will not allow countries to choose hard courts that are too slow either. I’m not sure I see the point of this. If a country wants a slow court, all they have to do is choose a clay court.

I’m also not sure I like the changes. Tennis is becoming too regimented. Grass courts are slowing down. Davis Cup has unlimited challenges making linespeople secondary. How long will it be before all lines are called electronically? Round robin tennis was booted out before it even got started.

It’s no fun anymore. You can’t watch someone hit ace after ace on a fast grass court. You can’t even argue a call or cheat at Davis Cup.

I guess that’s the point.


Here are my previous last thoughts about the Davis Cup final.

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Good day everyone. The Davis Cup final is around the corner but today we have the last ATP event of the season: the Tennis Masters Cup final between Roger Federer and David Ferrer. Six months ago I did not expect to utter those words. David Ferrer? But he’s been on fire. The only player hotter was David Nalbandian who won the last two Masters Series events of the year after failing to get past a quarterfinal in the previous nine months.

Federer has stumbled into the year end championships here in Shanghai: two straight losses to Nalbandian, an early loss here to Fernando Gonzalez and consecutive losses for the first time in four years. He found his game against Andy Roddick, however. He looked like his old silky smooth self spinning out slices and reflex volleys like the best in the game.

So sit back and enjoy as the energizer bunny Ferrer tries to run the calm and cool Mr. Federer off the court. Please leave comments and we’ll include you in the conversation.

Nina Pat, whaddya think, Ferrer is 0-7 against Federer. Can he beat him today?

Pat Well, stranger things may have happened I suppose, Ferrer did manage to get a set off Roger in Hamburg this year. But Roger looked so sharp last night against Nadal, what a bell-ringer that was. So Ferrer is going to have to run like crazy, just for starters.

Nina Wow, I didn’t realize Roger won 20 out of 21 points in the match with Nadal yesterday. I have to go with Patrick, I don’t see any way. Having said that, if Roger’s stats drop just a bit and David can get a break, he has a chance. If the sets go to a tiebreaker with the way Roger is serving, it goes to Roger.

Ferrer 1-0

Pat There was a streak there early in the second where I think Roger won something like eleven straight points? Ferrer had a good hold in the first game, interesting Fed is so eager to challenge and yet the one he needed he did not challenge. Oh well. And the things Ferrer had to do to win the last point, up one line and then way over to the other, that is just too high a level to maintain though. Great game for Ferrer.

Nina This is something we haven’t talked about enough this week: the surface. This has historically been faster than an ice skating rink and the clay court players used to complain about it but you don’t hear the Spanish players complainingthis week and that’s one reason David is here. Remember, by the way, that players have three challenges here per set, not the usual two.

Federer 1-1

Nina Holy crap, they’re right! David is number one in three of the four return categories in the ATP stats. Wow.

Ferrer 1-2 (Federer breaks Ferrer)

Nina That game explains just how perfectly David has to play to beat Federer. No loose ground strokes into the net. He just can’t afford it.

Pat You’re reading stats now too? God, how many screens do you have open, Nina? lol Ferrer did not stick that volley and his game went off from there, he is feeling the pressure already and a few errors creeping in.

Ferrer 1-4 (Federer breaks Ferrer)

Nina Uh oh, this is the worst scenario imaginable. Roger serves lights out and David can’t keep his shots in the court. By the way, I have six windows open. I feel like I’m at a military command post. Pat, is it’s David’s incompetence or Roger’s transcendence?

Federer 6-2

Nina Okay, the match isn’t enthralling us so we have to go on to other subjects. I agree with the “calm” theory – the idea that hitting the ball in a relaxed manner is a good thing to develop. Pete Sampras had the same relaxed manner and he played a long time, Agassi had very efficient strokes. It does two things: it gives you a long career and it enable you to be relaxed in very stressful match situations – in particular in slams, and it means you can perform better.

Pat Whoops, sorry about not keeping up there. You are at a military command post, didn’t we tell you we’d drafted you, Nina? haha Being relaxed is vital, but how does a player develop that except by gaining confidence and that comes with more wins. I know when I am serving I tell myself early on to keep my shoulder girdle loose and relaxed, just by putting a moment’s concentration in that area. It helps. Then the trick becomes, how do you achieve that state MOST of the time you are on a court.

Second Set
Ferrer 2-6, 1-0

Nina Look at it this way: Filippo Volandri’s serve is awful but how can he change it now? If you don’t learn relaxed strokes from the get go, you’re not gonna get it after five years on the tour. Having said that, the players we’re talking about are hard court players. I’m trying to think of a graceful relaxed clay court player. Strangely enough I’d have to say Borg. He had the extreme grip and his calmness was skin deep but he was efficient. Can you think of someone else?

Federer 6-2, 2-1

Pat Wow, Federer’s defending really well. Ferrer hit two good shots right up the line, the first time he did not come in and lost the point, the second time he did come in and Roger passed him with the backhand up the line. What’s a boy to do? Love those legs, David. Maybe you’ll let me pet them, if I’m good. How about Thomas Muster, I know they consider him one of the grinders, but he seemed like a guy who looked relaxed enough, played within himself. Seems like they have to be tremendously fit though, and Muster was.

Ferrer 2-6, 3-2

Nina I wonder if Andy Roddick gets embarrassed when Lacoste shows that panning crotch shot in the middle of their ad for him (for people watching this on ESPN2 (US)). Reminds me of the beer ad that overdubbed the sound of a horse to suggest something about size. My attention is slowly getting back to the game. Two solid holds by David and the match is evening out. David still isn’t getting any long points though and until he does, Roger has the upper hand.

Ferrer 2-6, 3-4 (Federer breaks Ferrer)

Pat You cannot be serious, Nina, Roddick probably LOVES that commercial. I think I know the scene you mean, pretty racy if it’s the one I think you mean. I think Roddick should sign on with Jockey, what with all that crotch-grabbing he does. It’s a nervous thing I figure, the front end version of the Nadal Butt Pick. Someone with a camera should follow players around and put together a reel of their little tics. We could call it that: My Little Tics.

Federer 6-2, 5-3

Nina David got what he wanted – long points. Two backhands into the net – one of them a volley – and that was enough to lose the break. Yeah, I don’t understand why Roddick doesn’t get lampooned just as much for his crotch grabbing as Nadal does for wedgie diving. Anyway, back to the subject at hand. David has to be perfect today and he is not. Strategically, Roger is feeding him a steady diet of slices and David can’t generate any depth or speed, or even consistency, off the low ball. By the way, luckily for David, this is a best of five final. One other thing, that slick backhand passing shot shows another thing he’s doing: hitting the ball very early. That’s how you deal with speedies like David.

Ferrer 2-6, 3-6 (Federer breaks Ferrer to win the second set and is now two sets up)

Pat I liked that Ferrer tried to hang with him early in the set, but then the gap opened up again. I am thinking back to the women’s final a week ago, and how nerve wracking that was to watch. I could use a little frayed nerves right now. It would liven things up.

Third Set

Federer 6-2, 6-3, 1-0

Nina How many deuces in the last game of the second set, a ton. Ferrer is getting better and better but he’s still only just hanging in there. And now he’s not making his bread and butter shots – an easy passing shot into the net. The only hope we have is the length of the match. Three sets is a long time to go without a letdown. And here we see a little one as David gets three break points but he still can’t convert.

Pat I was hopeful too when Ferrer had that break point in the opening game. Oh well. Frankly I am glad this won’t be going to five sets, don’t think we could take it, could we? Do you think Roger will come out against Sampras this coming week and try to blow him away or will it be polite?

Ferrer 2-6, 3-6, 1-3 (Federer breaks Ferrer)

Nina Oh noooo, Roger is the scooter and the energizer bunny today. I can’t believe he ran all the way to one corner then all the way back to the other corner then hit a passing shot that landed in a such a small window that David couldn’t handle it. I’d have to say it really is over now. By the way, I don’t like the three challenges per set. It begins to slow the game down too much. It’s moving towards US football where replays take forever. Whaddya you think about three challenges Pat?

Ferrer 2-6, 3-6, 2-4

Pat I don’t have a firm opinion yet on the three challenges. I want to see it play out a bit more. Some matches seem to run out of challenges, and that is not good. Maybe the powers that be should just make the system workable for any close call, but I suppose they feel that would take some of the strategy suspense away from the game.

Nina One other thing about three challenges: the more challenges you have, the less strategical you have to be. You don’t have to worry as much about when you can use them.

Pat That’s true, I think overall the goal should be: what can we do to make the game more compelling? So maybe they should stick to two per set. I liked how Federer used a lot of backhand slice cross court to create things, then he hits the flatter backhand up the line for the winner.

Federer 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 Federer wins his fourth straight Tennis Masters Cup.

Nina We’ve all been looking at the downside of Roger Federer’s career and even though I think that day is here, he’s still going to win at least a few slams for the next few years and how would you like that for the downside of your career?

Pat I think we should do something about that BNP Paribas baby commercial. Any ideas? Serve him up? A roasting perhaps? Turn him into a coach? Ferrer is speaking now, you know his English will improve a lot ’cause I think he is going to get interviewed a few more times next year. Speaking of next year, I quite concur with Pat Mc’s comment about Roger wanting to send a major message to the field for next year. Lately we have started to doubt Da Man, but no doubts today.

Nina The only way we’ll get rid of the BNP Paribas baby is to improve tennis’s popularity. I might sound obnoxious but I’m happy we don’t have to suffer through ten million ads for lite beer – a product that it slightly better than water and requires endless silly commercials to try and make it interesting. On the other hand, it might be nice if we had some tennis stars that appealed to the beer crowd instead of the Mercedes crowd. Then we’d get some damn viewers!

Pat Actually Corona used to have some great, racy beer commercials, they have cut them back a bit now. Lite beer I would not want for tennis, but Corona would work. I thought the American Express ones of Roddick last year were terrific and funny. Maybe others will join the fray.


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