One hundred million. It sounds like a lot of cash, until you’re building your Fantasy Tennis team. Consider that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are valued at $25.01 and $20.78 million respectively and you’re soon back to counting your cash.
Much like the fashionista who effortlessly builds their new-season wardrobe around one big-spend “investment” piece and some chain store bargains, the trick to constructing the best Fantasy Tennis team could be the value-for-money players you add to a big-name star.
Eight players are required in each active team and the extra eight on your bench will help formulate a long-term plan.
To help you create a team that grows in value throughout the year, we’ve listed some quality options valued around the $10 million mark or below.
David Goffin ($10.2m)
Like a quiet achiever? Goffin is your man. Defeating Nadal and Federer in his runner-up performance at the prestigious ATP Finals and a winner of five consecutive singles matches in the Davis Cup final and recent Hopman Cup, there’s a sense of next-level as the solid Belgian builds on career-best form.
Caroline Garcia ($9.85m)
A back injury in Brisbane is a worrying asterisk but doesn’t fully detract from the credentials Garcia established by winning back-to-back titles in Wuhan and Beijing late in 2017. Her AO quarter includes Garbine Mugurza and Angelique Kerber but as a player touted for her No.1 potential, the 24-year-old is capable of some big next steps.
Juan Martin del Potro ($9.68m)
He hasn’t played an AO since 2014 but del Potro is warming up superbly with an Auckland semifinal boosting his top-10 return. The absence of rankings points to defend in Melbourne creates a certain freedom and the 2009 US Open champ loves a hard court. Watch his fitness levels post-AO as you decide whether to trade or hold.
Dominic Thiem ($9.49m)
The Austrian workhorse doesn’t attract quite the attention of Next-Gen contemporary Sascha Zverev but solid progress showed as the 24-year-old reached the fourth round or better of every slam in 2017. There’s both proven credentials and a fresh start for the recent No.4 (and now No.5): Thiem enters the AO with Galo Blanco as a new coach.
Ashleigh Barty ($9.41m)
This fast-improving Aussie is not one who’ll falter before an expectant home crowd, nor is she one who’ll claim a big win or two then disappear. The rise to world No.21 arises from a foundation of natural talent, relentless hard work and a level-headed approach. Don’t simply put Barty on your team, but keep her there.
Jack Sock ($7.76m)
There’s always one player you’ll question and another you’ll regret not adding to your team. The top-ranked American man could sit in either camp. Momentum from his first ATP Masters title in Paris and top-10 debut late in 2017 seems halted by an early Auckland exit as defending champion. At the same time, Sock could be saving his best for the big event.
Andrey Rublev ($6.8m)
He faces a tough first round against Ferrer in Melbourne but there’s a long-term appeal in this 20-year-old. Seeded at a slam for the first time after his finals run in Doha, Rublev will be buoyed by the memories of a US Open quarterfinal run in 2017. Watch the forehand, watch his competitive spirit (he saved a match point in the Doha semis) and watch him rise in 2018.
Angelique Kerber ($6.53m)
Thriving with new coach Wim Fissette, the AO 2016 champion is a decisive victor of seven straight matches early in 2018. Her fitness is high, aggression has returned and most importantly, winning has become a habit again. Valued under $7 million, she’s practically a steal.
Belinda Bencic ($2.19m)
It’s admittedly a brutal AO draw for the Swiss – a year after facing eventual champion Serena Williams first round, she now starts against 2017 finalist Venus. But five months out after wrist surgery in 2017 has fuelled rather than quelled competitive spirit, as Hopman Cup victory attests. If you don’t add Bencic to your team, at least place her on the bench.
Alex De Minaur ($1.8m)
We doubt we need to explain this in detail: in consecutive semifinal runs in Brisbane and Sydney, De Minaur has ousted a recent Wimbledon finalist and former No.3 in Milos Raonic, along with an AO semifinalist and former No.7 in Fernando Verdasco. Tomas Berdych is his first-round AO opponent but at $1.8 million, you’re wise to get him in the team now.