Daniela Hantuchova will be analyzing the 2021 Australian Open at a metaphorical deficit, having put most of her chips down on the game's biggest names during an entertaining round of Buy, Sell, Hold.
"I can’t bring myself to sell," she joked. "As we go through the tournament, I think that’s when I’ll start selling."
The former world No. 5 assessed the chances of eight men and women most likely to succeed at the first major tournament of the new season, earmarking who ought to be fastest out of the gate, and who may need a bit more time to get going after a turbulent 2020.
BUY: Sofia KENIN (USA)
"Well, you always have to buy when you’re talking about a defending champion. I often got the feeling that, regardless of how I might have been feeling in practice, when I entered Rod Laver Arena, I was capable of playing my best tennis out of nowhere, because of all those great memories from the past. She’ll have those feelings as well, coming back as a defending champion. She’s definitely a buy."
BUY: Novak DJOKOVIC (SRB)
"I’m definitely buying into Novak. The way he won last year, how he’s trained in the pre-season, and is coming back as defending champion, there is 0.0001% I would think otherwise when it comes to his chances to win, just because of how comfortable he feels in Australia."
HOLD: Ashleigh BARTY (AUS)
"I’ll have to hold. I’m a huge fan of her game. I absolutely love her style. The only reason why I would hold is because I haven’t seen her play in some time, and it’s never easy to come back after such a long break.
"Otherwise, I would want to buy because she’s been at home and able to practice at home."
BUY: Rafael NADAL (ESP)
"I think the way Rafa beat Novak at Roland Garros surprised all of us. It was an incredible effort, and one of the best matches I’ve seen from him. He obviously has to feel confident being the most recent Grand Slam champion. He's also put a lot of work into his pre-season, and comes to Australia looking super prepared, as well. As much as the 'Next Gen' are knocking at the door, I still feel like it’s either Rafa or Novak when they're in the draw."
HOLD: Serena WILLIAMS (USA)
"I would hold because obviously, she’s always among the favorites to win every event she enters because of what a champion she is. We just never know these days, and I’ve predicted her to win a lot since she came back after having a baby, and though she's looked really strong at times, it hasn't quite come together in a big final yet."
BUY: Dominic THIEM (AUT)
"If I had to put one man next to Rafa and Novak, it would be Dominic after the incredible season he’s had. He’s matured so much, and his game has become so much more complete. He’s super confident on all parts of the court, where he may have used to only feel that way behind the baseline. Winning the US Open was huge for him because I think many assumed his first Grand Slam title would come on clay. It’s so different going into major tournament as a former champion, that it surely brings extra confidence. He’s another favorite to win."
BUY: Simona HALEP (ROU)
"I think I would always buy when it comes to Simona—especially Down Under, with Darren Cahill waiting for her. They’re such a great combination, and I think she feels like it’s a home tournament as a result, and because of all of the fans that support her there. She’s been so close to winning the title over the years, so she’s another buy for me."
HOLD: Alexander ZVEREV (GER)
"I would have to hold here. If David Ferrer was still around—I felt like he made such a difference in his game—I would feel much more confident. When you’re playing so well and you make changes, I always wonder why, when things seem to be going well? Only he knows, but it gives me pause."