Tennis Expert Picks - Australian Open


Editor's note: In selecting our picks, the "toughest road" must be a player seeded in the top eight, and a "sleeper" is someone seeded 17th or lower.

Brad Gilbert is probably the most openly competitive member of our formidable broadcast and online tennis team.

In recent years, to his everlasting credit, he has relentlessly championed reforms in the Experts' Picks segment leading into the four Grand Slams. Now, thanks to Gilbert, it is a far fairer gauge of prognosticating acumen than it ever was.

However, we would be remiss if we did not note that B.G. -- a former top-five player back in the day and the semi-legendary coach of Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray -- finished 12th in the 2014 standings -- out of 12.

"Oh, wow," Gilbert said recently from California. "I'm upset with my players, that they don't respond to me. I got behind and went for some sleeper picks. It's like the craps table: You get behind, and you just go further down ... and then out. I'm planning on a comeback this year."

For the record, Mary Joe Fernandez was our winner, with 103 points. contributing writer Kamakshi Tandon (96) and tennis editor Matt Wilansky (91) joined Fernandez on the podium. As always, the venerable Cliff Drysdale (86) was in the hunt.

"Good news for Brad is he can only go up," Fernandez said. "He should let [his son] Zach help with the picks this year!"

Zach Gilbert, a formidable player himself and a tennis researcher, could well be a critical factor in seeing his father rise in the 2015 standings.

The really good news? It's another year, and the slate is clean. Here for your enjoyment and edification is the first of our four major installments: