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I have made no secret of my disdain for the lack of professionalism of Tennis players in general. It is my personal belief that should a normal member of public show the lack of professionalism in their field of work that they - or indeed other sports players as well - do, then many would be currently unemployed.
You only need to watch less than a minute of the YouTube video above, which shows the final game of a Challenger match between Andreas Haider-Maurer and Adam Pavlasek, to realise how unprofessional Tennis players can be.
This perceived lack of effort and professionalism is one reason why I do not agree in the slightest that Tennis players deserve more money, particularly those who lose in the first round of tournaments, where most retirements take place.
With retirements, I believe (although don't consider this move likely at all) that the Tennis authorities should place a mandatory one-week ban on all retirees. If the player has retired with a genuine injury, this wouldn't be a problem, as they would almost certainly be unfit for action the following week. Immediately this would prevent players from retiring without a big physical problem, and also immediately this prevents players retiring because they can't be bothered to tank and see a defeat out.
This also has the benefit of giving fans and TV audiences better value for money, and naturally helps gamblers and traders too, with there being a myriad of rules regarding retirements. Betfair's specific rule is that all positions are void until the first set is completed, with all positions from that point not being voided.
Late last year I looked at sets per tournament and retirements, and event category, and you can see the results in the resources tab above. Particularly in the WTA, it was clear to see that there was a general trend towards retirements occurring late in the season and also in lower level events, with Grand Slams having very few retirements. In the ATP, the late stages of the season also had more retirements although the tournament level was not a big factor.
With October-December having the highest percentage of retirements, it's clear that at this time of the season, many players are either struggling with fitness or - equally as likely in my opinion - have half an eye on the beach, ready for holiday. We've already seen last week that Victoria Azarenka and Nick Kyrgios have called a premature end to their 2014 season.
Armed with this information, we now know that from this week in the calendar until the end of the season, retirements are more likely. This is very useful information, because we can be on our guard for injury issues which may crop up in-play.
Below is the 2014 retirement statistics for the ATP Tour, correct at 30th September 2014. Today there were three retirements in Tokyo, with Jarkko Nieminen and Edouard Roger-Vasselin both retiring 5-7 1-4 (double break) down to Benjamin Becker and Jurgen Melzer, respectively. Roberto Bautista-Agut was more honourable, retiring in the third set of his battle with Gilles Simon when the set was on serve, and the Spaniard was clearly in trouble with a thigh injury.
Filters applied to my database were main draw best of three matches, with point by point data available:-
This information is fascinating.
We can see that almost 60% of retirements occurred in set 2 this year on the ATP Tour. Set 1, where all positions are voided on Betfair, represents a shade over 30%, with set 3 having just 5 retirements all season. On that basis, we can look at set 3 with very little threat of players retiring, and perhaps even look to back those players who take a medical timeout in the final set.
Also apparent is that over 50% of retirements come from just three scenarios - when a player is a set and break down, when a player is a set and double break down, or immediately after they lost the first set. With the first two scenarios particularly against ATP players (they will almost always be large odds in-play at this point) it is clear that there is a reasonable percentage of retirements caused from throwing the towel in.
Interestingly there were five retirements from a set up in set two, with two coming when the set was on serve, and three coming when the player was a set up and break down. It can be considered a given that these situations, as well as the three in set one which came when the set was on serve, and the two in set three when the set was on serve (including today's Bautista-Agut retirement) were genuine injury issues. Players retiring when a set down but on serve (6 instances) and at the end of set one (7) are also likely to be realistic injury concerns.
I also performed the same analysis for the WTA:-
Again, we can see that set two had by far the most retirements in the WTA, but the three scenarios which covered over 50% of ATP retirements counted for around 36% in the WTA. Given that these are scenarios where the retiree is a very heavy underdog in the ATP due to there being less breaks than in the WTA, it is clear that WTA players retire less when the chips are down, knowing that they can recover deficits easier than their male counterparts. This also indicates that some ATP players retire because they can't be bothered to see a match out.
Almost certain genuine retirements - when the game state isn't hugely against the player - numbered 22 in the WTA. These were scenarios where either the set was on serve or the player was a set up.
However, it's likely that Simona Halep, who retired when 7-5 2-3 up against Annika Beck in Hertogenbosch in June, was protecting herself from a slight injury with Wimbledon starting the subsequent week. Indeed, Halep's efforts in events prior to a Grand Slam are questionable generally also, with the Romanian world number two being defeated by Magdalena Rybarikova in her first match in New Haven prior to the US Open, giving a walkover to Carla Suarez Navarro in Rome before the French Open, and losing in the first round to Madison Keys in Sydney before the Australian Open. Halep has won just one match in the tournaments before a Grand Slam in 2014. With her 2014 record currently standing at 42-14, this is highly unlikely to be a coincidence...
Having this information at a glance is highly useful, and if we are worried about a retirement in-play we can look to see how often they occur in a given situation - for example there were no retirements when a player was a set up but double break down, across either tour.
Hopefully readers can use this information to their advantage in the markets and look to be careful in situations where retirements occur more frequently.
One way of doing so is the following - I previously mentioned in the TennisRatings Trading Handbook that retirements are relatively frequent at the end of the first set and that hedging positions when a player is 5-x 40-0 up, for example, is recommended where possible as opposed to doing so at the end of the set when there may be a retirement.
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