We’ve come to the Round of 16 at the Australian Open in Melbourne, and while we don’t have the crowd anymore (at least for now), we should still have some tantalizing tennis. Because we’ve come so far, we now have some previously-expensive options getting a reduction in cost as the list of players to choose from for your DraftKings tennis rosters shrinks. With so many values that stand out, let’s narrow the options to consider. You can follow my tennis Twitter, @KDPicks, for any late thoughts on the matches.
Andrey Rublev ($10,600)
This should be the end of the line for Casper Ruud ($4,100), who prefers slower courts where he can construct points a lot better. He’s proven he’s no chump on a hardcourt, but when faced with the type of power that can dominate on the surface, he’s fallen incredibly easily — think back to the U.S. Open, when he was demolished by Matteo Berrettini in straight sets. Rublev has that type of power and brutality and should hit Ruud off the court here without facing much trouble. Rublev’s eyes are focused on the Australian Open title with Novak Djokovic dealing with an injury.
Jen Brady ($9,200)
Brady vocalized after her last win over Kaja Juvan that she was “on a mission,” which just seems to confirm what we’re seeing on the court. The American has been overwhelming with her power on these surfaces, which is right up there with some of the biggest names in tennis, and she has been brutalizing her opponents, never dropping more than four games in a match. Donna Vekic ($5,500), on the other hand, just had to grind out a three-set win over Kaia Kanepi — her second time going the distance this tournament — and while she possesses top-15 talent, it’s tended to come and go over the course of her young career. Brady is on a roll, just like the one she was on at last year’s U.S. Open, and it’s going to be very difficult to stop her.
Karolina Muchova ($6,200)
I’ll use this section to go over some potential upsets in the making since that’s how you win this late in a tournament. Muchova fell to Elise Mertens ($8,300), 6-4, 6-2 in their only career meeting last season, but I was struck by a couple of numbers there. Not only did Muchova generate more breakpoints (5) during that match — Mertens would save all five — she was also dismal in her return game, winning 44.4% of points on Mertens’ second serve and just 18.2% on her first. This week, Muchova ranks among the best players in second-serve return points, having won 40 over her three matches, and she’s won 55 first-serve return points as well. Considering she went up against one of the biggest servers in the game in Karolina Pliskova in her last match, I rate these numbers pretty highly. I suspect we get a much closer match this time around, and Muchova is playing well enough to pull the upset.
Matteo Berrettini ($5,100)
It’s hard to argue with a guy who’s going to hit the ace bonus almost every match — Berrettini poured in 15 in his three-set win over Karen Khachanov in his last match — and even harder to argue with the run of form the Italian’s been on. Stefanos Tsitsipas ($9,700) disposed of Berrettini in four sets in the 2019 Australian Open — the last time these two met in a main-draw match — but this time things could be a little trickier. Not only has Tsistipas been pushed more than Berrettini in this tournament, but I’ve been particularly impressed with the World No. 10’s return game, which has opened the door for him to be truly dominant considering how unreturnable his serve can be. He’s certainly worth a look here with the opposite direction both players are trending in.
Fabio Fognini ($4,500)
We’ve arrived at the most exciting match of the evening. Fading Rafael Nadal ($10,200)? Are you crazy? Well, you’ve got to be a little crazy to win big on tennis DFS, and this is the right spot to get a little nuts.
Fognini looks better than I’ve seen him in years, having fully recovered now from last year’s double-ankle surgery, which he said was something he’s needed for a few years now. And, when Fognini has been at his best, he’s been capable of beating the best in the world, including Rafa. The Italian has four wins in their 16 meetings, including a memorable victory at the 2015 U.S. Open which saw him come back from two sets and a break down to stun the Spaniard.
He’s in super form, and Nadal, who has yet to really be pushed, came into the week with a slight back injury. Five-setters tend to bring out those injuries, and I do think if Fognini is able to gain any sort of ground early on that it could crumble for Nadal, who might actually be at a disadvantage on these surfaces. Nadal’s high-bouncing forehands should tee Fognini up for his backhand stunners up the line. This should be an incredible match, which I think will go long, so even if Fognini loses in the end he should make it worthwhile to roster him.
Others to consider: Jess Pegula ($6,000)
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