Need something to occupy you now that the NFL season is over? Well, we’ve got just the thing — the first round of the Australian Open, which will start around dinner rime and end around breakfast time on Tuesday. With so many huge names taking the court, we take a look at options to consider for your fantasy tennis rosters on DraftKings.
Rafael Nadal ($11,200)
All right. So, this slate is weird. It’s really difficult to find a name among the top-priced options that I’m absolutely sure will win in straight sets, which is what you’re paying for at this price and commonly find with top seeds early on at Grand Slams. Nadal, even with a nagging back injury, is one of the few that fit the mold of slam-dunk straight-sets winner. Say whatever you want about the Rafa — he’s declining on hard courts, he was never that good on hard courts to begin with, he’s going to be rusty and potentially hampered by injury — none of that will come into play for at least a few matches. Laslo Djere ($3,400) is a very average-to-below-average player to begin with, and he’s awful on hard courts with a 32-41 career record. He has two wins on the surface since March 2019. This should be automatic.
Jennifer Brady ($10,500)
One of the only other players up here I’m supremely confident will mop the floor with their opponents is Brady, who has been an absolute machine on hard courts with a 31-11 record last season and a nice run to the semifinals of the WTA 500 event at the AO grounds last week. Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov ($4,100) is mainly a clay court player and shoudn’t be able to handle the pure power that Brady possesses on her serve and with her groundstrokes. She was handled easily in straight sets by Polona Hercog in December, who is a pretty decent comparison to Brady when it comes to power. It should be a breeze for the American.
Others to consider: Ekaterina Alexandrova ($10,300)
Value flex options
Fabio Fognini ($7,800)
We’ve arrived at my favorite option on the slate, and frankly my favorite price range. I’d be inclined to just load up on players in the $7-8K range — where the best value is — and that starts with Fognini. With no disrespect to Pierre-Hugues Herbert ($6,900) — he is absolutely not on the level of the Italian, who possesses some of the best pure talent and ball-striking on tour. When he’s playing his best, motivated and healthy, Fognini can beat just about anyone in the world, as evidenced by his huge career wins, including over Nadal. Fognini had double-ankle surgery during the COVID-19 layoff; and after some mixed results late last year, he now looks to be moving incredibly well, playing at 100% health. It was an injury he said he’d been dealing with for several years, so it’s fair to speculate that the high level we saw from him at the ATP Cup last week is here to stay.
Herbert has a great serve and net game with his doubles prowess, but Fognini should be able to pick off his serves with ease and get this done in four — maybe even three — sets.
Sam Querrey ($7,300)
His opponent, Lorenzo Sonego ($7,400), had a moment in the sun at the end of last season, defeating Novak Djokovic on a hardcourt, but it’s proven to be nothing more than just that, a fling. Since then, he’s failed to match the level of top competition and is coming off a pretty brutal loss to Australian Jason Kubler, who plays mainly at the challenger level. Sonego’s talent on clay courts is legitimate, but I don’t think these fast courts in Australia are where he’s going to play his best tennis. That’s particularly true against the big serve of Querrey. He’s gone 2-2 in 2021, but his two losses have proven not to be bad ones with the way Gianluca Mager and Stefano Travaglia have looked against other opponents this season. Take the experience and the serve of Querrey and fade the inconsistent Sonego.
Heather Watson ($7,000)
Not only does Watson hold a 2-1 advantage in the lifetime series between her and Kristyna Pliskova ($7,500), she also just took down Pliskova at last year’s Australian Open in three sets. She possesses the return game to stay competitive with the tall, big-serving Pliskova and has a decent history at Grand Slams, reaching the second round at the AO twice and the third round once — and four wins at the other slams. Her form isn’t the best at the moment, but she did just take Ekaterina Alexandrova to three sets in Abu Dhabi — which is not easy to do — so perhaps the rust has been fully shaken off after three matches in 2021. On paper, this should be an easy victory for Watson, so I think you’re getting a discount due to her last match against the very-good Veronika Kudermetova. I’m buying low.
Others to consider: Pablo Cuevas ($8,100), Dan Evans ($8,400), Casper Ruud ($7,600)
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
Curious about when major leagues and events will return? Check out our DraftKings Sports Calendar for the latest updates.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jetsfan196) and I may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.