Brad Gilbert, who was once the No. 4-ranked singles player in the world, is an exceptionally competitive person.
After a year of predicting Grand Slam results a few days ahead of the draw, he asked for a refinement in the process. Now our staff of analysts and writers wait for the draws to come out before making picks; in theory, this makes for more intelligent choices.
Clearly, Gilbert cares more about this very public form of prognostication than anyone else. And it shows. We give you our 2012 Experts' Picks winner: Gilbert, who finished with nine correct choices out of 24.
"The thing I'm disappointed about?" he said from his Bay Area home. "I definitely limped in. I started strong [he led the field by two after Roland Garros] but I fell apart at Wimbledon. Maybe the pressure got to me.
"I try to do a good job with these. You know, 'How do I stack up with these guys? What picks are different? Where can I pick up some ground?'"
See what we mean?
For the record, Gilbert batted .500 in the first two Slams but finished at a more-than-respectable .375. His total of nine was one better than Darren Cahill and Patrick McEnroe. The top three are all former tennis pros -- in fact, with the (startling) exception of Matt Wilansky, the top six finishers all played the game at the highest level.
Gilbert was one of 10 experts who picked Serena Williams to win the women's title, but the choice that locked it down was Juan Monaco as the top-10 player with the toughest road. Interestingly, the three best finishers all scored with that Juan-derful insight.
Sadly, there is no sterling trophy, not even a dirty t-shirt for the champion.
"That's OK," Gilbert said. "I have the great pride of beating everybody else."
Gilbert, in the quest for the perfect picking scenario, has another suggestion:
"One more change I'd like to see. When we're talking about the toughest road, it should be just the top eight players, not the top 10. There's such a difference between No. 8 and No. 10. That would make it a lot harder.
"Am I right?
We'll see if we can that done in two month's time when the players reconvene in Melbourne.