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This is my favorite week for tournament names. ‘s-Hertogenbosch is in Holland and it’s name is Dutch for the Duke’s forest. It was also the home of the painter Hieronymus Bosch, a 15th and 16th century painter responsible for The Garden of Earthly Delights, a fantastical and somewhat gruesome painting of the garden where Adam and Eve wandered.
Nottingam, England, was originally named Snotingaham, “the home of Snot’s people”, after the Saxon chieftain Snot. Therefore, I call this week’s tournaments ‘s-Nottingham and ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
Rear View Mirror – a look back at last week’s tournaments
The French went wild at Queen’s Club: Nicolas Mahut and Arnaud Clement made it to the semifinals. Because rain held up the schedule, Mahut beat Ivan Ljubicic and Rafael Nadal on the same day. Mahut came within a net cord or two of beating Andy Roddick in the final before losing in three sets. Apparently Mahut’s coaching team recently gave him a tongue lashing about his attitude and it paid off. He was diving all over the court. He even dived after a ball that went into the net.
Halle was notable for the absence of Roger Federer. He’s also absent this week so he’s going into Wimbledon without a warmup tournament and that takes nerve. Either he’s falsely confident or he has an injury and neither one is good. I’m a bit worried for the guy.
Marcos Baghdatis got to the final and lost to Tomas Berdych. Baghdatis does well on grass, probably because the quick points don’t challenge his poor conditioning too much.
It’s a strange thing. Richard Gasquet has won Nottingham two years in a row and yet he’s 1-2 at Halle. Last week he lost to a journeyman qualifier in the first round. Seems to me that both places have the same grass and dreary weather so I have no idea what the problem is. Still, I have little choice but to pick him to get to the final again given the competition. I’m nervous about it, though, because he could meet Arnaud Clement in the second round and Clement beat him two out of three times on fast surfaces last year.
If Jonas Bjorkman and doubles partner Max Mirnyi meet in the quarterfinals, it’ll be their twelfth meeting. Bjorkman has won eleven of them.
I have Dmitry Tursunov meeting Gasquet in the final. I’m picking Gasquet to win it because I watched Tursunov lose to Andy Roddick in the semifinals at Queen’s Club and, honestly, I have to wonder what ricochets around that silver-quick, totally unclassifiable brain of his. He tried to short hop a drop shot off the baseline at one point. He’s like a recalcitrant child who purposely screws up when the stakes are high just so he can walk up to you afterwards and say, “See, I told you I couldn’t do it.”
Quarterfinalists: Gasquet, Clement, Bjorkman, Mirnyi, Ivo Karlovic, Juan Martin Del Potro, Sebastien Grosjean, Tursunov.
Semifinalists: Gasquet, Bjorkman, Karlovic, Tursunov.
Finalists: Gasquet, Tursunov. Winner: Gasquet.
This is an ugly draw because there are no true grass court players. Baghdatis comes closest so I naturally have him in the final.
I’m picking Gael Monfils over Ivan Ljubicic because he beat him at Queen’s Club last year and Ljubicic seems to be slipping down the ranking. I have Marc Gicquel beating Monfils in the quarterfinals even though Gicquel played his first ever ATP level grass tournament last week. He suffered through a 129mph(208km/h) serve to his private parts from Benjamin Becker’s racket and still got to the quarterfinals so I figure he can handle Monfils.
Guillermo Canas has been to the semifinals and final here but that was over four years ago. This will be his first time on grass in two years so he could look awkward. I have him in the final only because his first three opponents haven’t won an ATP level match on grass in the last three years and his semifinal opponent could be Gicquel. See what I mean, ugly.
Quarterfinalists: Fabrice Santoro, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Baghdatis, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Juan Ignacio Chela, Canas, Gicquel, Monfils
Semifinalists: Ferrero, Baghdatis, Canas, Gicquel
Finalists: Baghdatis, Canas Winner: Baghdatis
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