The grass court season may be fleeting, but what it lacks for in length it makes up for in prestige. Game Week 19 just happens to be one of the more prestigious weeks on the tennis calendar, with most of tennis’ leading men signed up for Queen’s or Halle, and the women playing at either Birmingham or Mallorca.
So with a packed playing field to choose from, who should you pick?
After more than a year out of the game, Vika Azarenka ($10.97m) is an expensive gamble in GW19. That she is a quality player is beyond doubt. Likewise, she will almost certainly notch up a significant points tally. But she is expensive, and lacks match practice.
Instead, a player like Karolina Pliskova ($9.1m) represents a far better investment. The world No.3 has a game that suits the grass, is scheduled to play both GW19 and GW20, and seems relatively inexpensive given her undoubted quality.
Meanwhile, things can surely only get better for Angelique Kerber ($7.21m). The world No.1 has admittedly had a shocking run of form of late, but likes the grass (she was the runner-up at Wimbledon) and is relatively cheap at the moment. With the pressure slowly easing on her, perhaps the German will finally figure out how to win a match.
If you’re looking for long-term prospects, have a think about Timea Bacsinszky ($8.24m). The French Open semifinalist (and former Wimbledon quarterfinalist) is scheduled to play the next four game weeks. So, too, is Carla Suarez Navarro ($7.53m). And if you’re looking for a cheap, long-term point scorer Yulia Putintseva ($5.44m) could well fit the bill.
Before we get to the ins and outs of Roger Federer’s ($20.28m) less-than-triumphant return from his time off, it’s important to note that neither Rafael Nadal ($22.04m) nor Novak Djokovic ($14.19m) are planning to play before Wimbledon.
What to do about Roger? Nothing. The world No.5 has had his blips before this season (think Dubai) and bounced back in fine form. He will be looking to make amends for his Stuttgart defeat at Halle and so should be a staple in everyone’s grass court team.
He’s joined in Halle by the likes of Kei Nishikori (a risky investment at $9.73m), Alexander Zverev (an expensive buy at $12.31m), and Dominic Thiem (who is expensive, but the proven points scorer is arguably worth the $14.02m).
Rafa might be absent from Queen’s, but that draw is still loaded. Andy Murray ($11.05m), Milos Raonic ($10.27m) and Marin Cilic ($8.98m) are all in action, and are all worthy additions to any grass court team.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking longer term John Isner ($8.71m) is not only a beast on the grass but is scheduled to play the next four game weeks. So, too, is the mercurial genius Fernando Verdasco ($6.41m) and big-serving American Sam Querrey ($7.48m).
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