It’s Day 3 at the Australian Open in Melbourne and the temperature will rise to meet the level of competition. Because it’s the second round we’ve still got a ridiculously long list of names to choose from for your DraftKings tennis rosters, and we’ve got some fantastic matches on the card. With so many that stand out, let’s narrow the options to consider on Thursday. You can follow my tennis Twitter, @KDPicks, for any late thoughts on the matches.
Garbine Muguruza ($10,700)
Muguruza’s 2021 campaign has gone just about as well as she could have hoped for. She won eight of 10 matches — with losses to elite competition in Ash Barty and Maria Sakkari — and in her wins she hasn’t dropped a set. The 2020 Australian Open finalist may be destined for another deep run here in Melbourne, playing some rock-steady tennis to dispose of her competition so far. She’s won her only career match against Zarina Diyas ($3,900), who possesses plenty of talent, but has yet to put it together with any level of consistency over her career. Diyas ended 2020 in horrible form, and has just played three matches in 2021, so not only is Muguruza the clearly better player, she’s also the more tuned-up of the two. This just isn’t the spot to be fading the Spaniard.
Milos Raonic ($9,800)
His opponent, Marton Fucsovics ($4,500), is always a tough out — particularly at Grand Slams — but the Hungarian has now played back-to-back five-setters and shouldn’t have the energy to keep up with the pure power coming at him from Raonic. I’m not going to go too crazy reacting to how great Milos was in his return games against the weak-serving Corentin Moutet, but it’s difficult to ignore how good he looked from the baseline. He’s already one of the five best servers on tour, and when he’s been able to hit his stride with his groundstrokes, Raonic has looked like one of the five most difficult players to defeat on tour. He seems to be finding his form in Melbourne for a second-straight year, and against Fucsovics — who he owns a 2-0 career record against, never dropping a set — I think the Canadian keeps it rolling. You’ll also get an extra five or so points backing an ace machine, which could come in handy.
Others to consider: Serena Williams ($10,500), Iga Swiatek ($9,300)
Value flex options
Denis Shapovalov ($8,200)
We go from one Canadian to another ...and then, to another. Shapovalov faces off with fellow countryman, and good friend Felix Auger-Aliassime ($6,600) on Thursday in a match that many have been anxiously awaiting since the draws came out. It would be fantastic if we got a thriller between these two young upstarts, but it would mark the first time. Shapovalov has owned FAA in the three hardcourt matches these two have played, including a 3-0 beatdown at the 2019 U.S. Open when there was similar energy and anticipation surrounding their match. Simply put, Shapovalov is the far superior player at the moment, despite what Auger-Aliassime’s recent record might tell you. His six wins in seven matches are somewhat deceiving; the same issues that have plagued him for years now — uncontrolled groundstrokes and double-faults — are still there, and he’s found success against weak opponents where he can be the aggressor.
Against Shapovalov, one of the most aggressive players on tour, FAA will be playing off the back foot, and his lack of comfort in this match will lead to his already-high unforced error count climbing even higher. This price has five sets baked in, but in reality I think Shapovalov can get this done in three.
Pedro Martinez ($7,200)
Martinez has long been a victim of type-casting, much like his fellow Spaniards, who are known as clay specialists. No one wants to believe he can play on hardcourts. Well, I’ve got news for you: This kid is dynamite on the surface, holding a 46-29 career record. Martinez is a scrapper, playing a relentless brand of tennis, which should match up incredibly well against Dusan Lajovic ($7,800), who loves to play at the net. Lajovic’s last match should have resulted in a loss, but he saved 20-plus break points, something that is unsustainable going forward. I was very unimpressed, and think Martinez should answer plenty of questions here.
Nick Kyrgios ($5,000)
Facing one of the world’s best, Nick is nothing more than a GPP dart. That said, he’s got the highest upside of anyone on the slate. It wouldn’t really make sense for Kyrgios to make a run at the Australian Open after taking a year-long break and getting just a handful of matches under his belt in 2021. On the other hand, none of Kyrgios’ wins make sense. It didn’t make sense how he was able to roll past Daniil Medvedev — on one of the heaters of the decade — to take his seventh-career title in Washington, D.C. a couple years back. It doesn’t compute how he holds a 2-0 lifetime record against Novak Djokovic. And, it didn’t really make any sense that, despite being in lockdown for a year and looking out of shape last week, he was able to power past one of the game’s rising stars on Tuesday.
So, would it surprise me if Kyrgios came out and took down Dominic Thiem ($9,500)? Absolutely not. He’s got arguably more talent than anyone on tour, and his serving will always keep him within shouting distance in big matches. At the very least, he should pick up a couple of sets to get the crowd roaring in Melbourne. That might make him worth a look here.
Others to consider: Pablo Carreno Busta ($7,500), Sara Errani ($6,300), Aslan Karatsev ($5,800)
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