This is the sixth installment of the series, which features fantasy tips and rankings for Racket Rally. You can find a more detailed explanation of the series here.
The Clay season is in full swing now on both the ATP and WTA with the upcoming joint event in Madrid just three weeks before the start of Roland Garros. For the ATP, this is a Masters Series 1000 event, while for the WTA, it is a Premier Mandatory event. It is one of only three joint events during the year that is both a Masters 1000 and Premier Mandatory, so outside of the slams, this week is as important as there is on the calendar. Keep in mind that while the winner of each tournament gets 1000 points, in every other round, the WTA gives out more points.
Tip of the Week: Use up your court coins
Your court coins are useless if you don't use them. There are about 26 opportunities left to use your court coins, so spread them out accordingly, but don't save them all until the end. The important changes that you make will be the ones early in the year rather than making last second changes at the end of the year. The players you buy now could stay with you for the next six months or so if you desire. However, if you wait to use your court coins to buy Sara Errani in October, you only get her for a few weeks. In other words, court coins lose their value with time, so don't be afraid to spend them if there is a move you want to make.
Top Prospects vs. Drop Prospects
1. Nicolas Almagro, 29, ESP
Price per share: $290
There is not a zero missing in that price per share. The former world No. 9 missed the second half of the 2014 season with an injury, allowing his ranking to go into free fall mode. The Spaniard has gotten back to playing good tennis in 2015 with some quality wins, but the ranking continued to drop as his points from 2014 continued to come off. However, he only has 55 points to defend for the rest of the year, so if his ranking does continue to drop, it won't drop much more than now. He has a tough draw in Madrid, so if he loses in the first round to Juan Monaco, he will be drop to only $245. His ranking is that of someone on the Challenger Tour now, where he could really dominate, but he likely won't have to since tournaments will be lining up to give him a wildcard. Get as many shares of Almagro as you can now, and then get some more before Roland Garros until you have 50.
2. Andrey Rublev, 17, RUS
Price per share: $166
I would have said to buy Rublev a long time ago, but this is the first week that the Russian is available. Rublev started the year playing the junior Australian Open and then was playing Challenger Tour qualifying matches, but this week won his fourth tour-level match of the year. He is going to be a wildcard magnet for the rest of the year, and will be able to dominate challenger events when he isn't getting wildcards. At just $166 per share, you could get your money back and more within just a few events.
3. Francesca Schiavone, 34, ITA
Price per share: $782
It has been an up-and-down year for Schiavone, who reached the quarterfinals of Antwerp as a qualifier, but also lost in the first round of Miami qualifying. Thankfully, her ranking didn't go up too much as we dive into the clay season. The former Roland Garros champion always plays her best tennis on the clay and she received a wildcard into Madrid. She will face Casey Dellacqua in the first round, which is a winnable contest for the Italian. Just one win in Madrid is worth 65 points on the WTA, so this is a great move ahead of Madrid and the rest of the clay season.
4. Lara Arruabarrena, 23, ESP
Price per share: $610
After those first three, there is much worth spending money on, and those three are more than enough to spend whatever available money you have. However, if you do still have money to spend and you don't have enough to get shares of Rafael Nadal, this is the next best Spaniard. Arruabbarrena's price just took a small dip, but will be right back up after she reached the quarterfinals in Marrakech. However, she has a wildcard into the draw in Madrid, making her one of the cheapest players with a direct acceptance into the main draw. She will have a tough first-match against Agnieszka Radwanska, but cheap and main draw for Premier Mandatory is a rare combination. She will have the Spanish crowd supporting her in La Caja Magica, so anything can happen.
5. Nicolas Jarry, 19, CHI
Price per share: $256
I typically do not recommend buying teenagers or players at their peak price, and Jarry is both of them, which is why he is at No. 5 on the list. However, $256 for a peak price is still very cheap. The main reason this is a great buy is that Jarry doesn't have strong competition. He will be playing in Cali next week as the No. 4 seed. Semifinalists in the tournament get $33 and he is sure to get something. Sometimes having many shares of someone that is almost guaranteed to get you something is better than having one share of a player capable of winning titles.
1. Novak Djokovic: Way too many points to defend coming up and he isn't even playing in Madrid. Buy him back before Canada if you really want him.
2. Venus Williams: She couldn't have asked for a worse draw in Madrid. She will have to go through Victoria Azarenka and possibly Belinda Bencic just to face her sister in the round of 16.
3. Maria Sharapova: She's defending the title in Madrid, and although she has a decent draw, semifinal points aren't what you buy Sharapova for at that price.
4. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: Anyone who owns shares of Tsonga before the US Open is not using their money wisely. On the flip side, buying Tsonga right before the US Open could be the best bargain of the year.
5. Kei Nishikori: Defending a finalist appearance in Madrid, and is just too expensive in general. He is just too risky to invest in.
*All photos are from the racketrally.com site and are credited there.