2015 Season - Week 12 Tournament Previews


My favourite part of the Tennis calendar starts on Monday as the main clay season gets into full swing.  I find that this period has the biggest discrepancy between model prices and market prices, with the market frequently unable to price matches involving clay specialists and hard court big servers, in particular.

Something else generally worth mentioning is that the clay service hold percentage really isn't that far below the hard court mean.  This often surprises people who think that clay seriously negates the advantage of the server - of course it has an effect, but it's not nearly as much as many think.

For example, the 12 month ATP clay court mean is 75.6%, but on hard court (the next slowest surface) it is 80.1%.  This 4.5% differential is even lower on the WTA Tour, where the clay mean is 62.2% and the hard court 64.3% - just a 2.1% difference.  It would clearly be a mistake for traders to assume that there will be many more breaks on clay than on hard court.

I've also done a general clay court preview for Pinnacle Sports, which can be read here:-

The main clay season starts with three low level events - ATP 250s in Casablanca and Houston (both on clay) and a WTA International on Indoor Hard in Katowice (switched from clay last year) with a higher-level WTA Premier event - with a big field - in Charleston, on clay.

Week Twelve Trading Overview (only matches where point by point data is available):-

Only matches where point by point available










Matches

S1 Winner Train S2

S2 Non Train

Train %

Set 3

S3 Player Breaks 1st Trains

S3 Non Train

Train %

ATP









Casablanca

27

6

21

22.2

7

3

4

42.9

Houston

24

7

17

29.2

5

2

3

40.0

Week 2 Overall

51

13

38

25.5

12

5

7

41.7

WTA









Katowice

31

11

20

35.5

9

5

4

55.6

Charleston

52

10

42

19.2

25

6

19

24.0

Week 2 Overall

83

21

62

25.3

34

11

23

32.4


The table above illustrates the percentage of situations that 'trained' in these events in 2014.  

As I mentioned in the previous previews, I've had some questions about trains on Twitter so I'll clarify this a little better - a train would be a situation where there is no upward price swing from a given position.  Therefore in these instances, a set one winner train in set two would indicate that they took a set and break lead in set two and retained this lead without being broken back.  A non-train would include the player that lost the first set breaking first in set two, or recovering a set and break deficit, or even recovering one break when a set and double break down.

Likewise, a set three train in this instance would be a player that has broken first and retains this lead throughout the deciding set.

We can see the effect of the Indoor Hard surface in Katowice immediately - the train percentages for both the second and third sets are both higher, with both ATP events having lower train percentages.  This is quite a rare situation and ATP Casablanca in particular has very low train percentages, as does Charleston WTA.

This would indicate that Houston's surface will play quicker than Casablanca, which should play slowly.  On this basis, laying players a set up and a set and break up, in particular, should be very viable in Casablanca and Charleston.  This entry point should be one of a high positive expectation. 

Conversely, Katowice looks to favour servers and this is a prime example of the benefits of the Rolling Projected Holds in the daily spreadsheets - we need to assess Game State to work out whether positions are viable.

ATP 250 Casablanca:-

2014 service hold 71.2% (Clay Court Mean 75.6%)

Conditions are likely to be very slow, with many breaks and swings...

Some Contenders:-

Player

18 Month Surface Hold %

18 Month Surface Break Opponent %

Combined %





Berlocq

75.9

31.8

107.7

Garcia-Lopez

73.2

31.2

104.4

Andujar

74.9

29.5

104.4

Almagro

81.1

23.1

104.2

Klizan

74.5

29.0

103.5

Ramos

75.9

27.3

103.2

Schwartzman

65.4

36.1

101.5

Vesely

78.1

20.3

98.4

Youzhny

73.8

23.8

97.6

Granollers

70.0

26.4

96.4


Diego Sebastian Schwartzman looks to be a value outsider in Casablanca...

This event looks very open indeed, and I'm expecting a lot of close matches, which also tends to generate swings in-play.

Nicolas Almagro starts as the bookies favourite (4.00) but is closely followed by last year's winner Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (5.50) and Martin Klizan (8.00) in the outright market.  As two of the top four seeds, Garcia-Lopez and Klizan get byes to the 2nd round, as do Marcel Granollers and Jiri Vesely.

Granollers I'm expecting to take on this week, with such a low service hold percentage on clay in the last 18 months.  I really don't rate the Spaniard highly on clay.  Vesely is a little tougher - his hold/break percentage is far from spectacular but his Challenger clay were strong (last 2 years data converted to ATP 104.7% combined hold/break), so he should have improvement in him this season.  However his fitness and mental strength are far from guaranteed currently.

The bottom half of the draw seems quite a bit stronger than the top half, so there are solid each way chances about a couple of players in the top half in Albert Ramos and particularly, Diego Sebastian Schwartzman, available at 34 and 29 respectively.  Ramos' mental strength is an issue for him but he should have solid chances on this slow clay against most of the field, whilst if Schwartzman can improve the percentage that he breaks opponents more in late games of the set (which he should as it's WAY below expectation), he should have quite a lot of upside too.  The diminutive Argentine shouldn't fear this field although with his weak serve and strong return game, his matches will be undoubtedly swingy.

Finally by quirk of fate Robin Haase opens against Lamine Ouahab, which will give him a chance of revenge over his pitiful defeat in 2012, where he fumed over conditions.  Despite this hatred of conditions, it hasn't stopped him entering in the last two years, and his 2014 defeat to Alexandr Nedovyesov wasn't much better.  For those who don't know,  the local player Ouahab is a little on the 'overweight' side, so it will be interesting to see how he fares in the later stages of matches...

Overall I'm expecting a tournament which is far from dominated by servers with many breaks and swings, and this is an event I'm hugely looking forward to.

ATP 250 Houston:-

2014 service hold 74.1% (Clay Court Mean 75.6%)

Conditions are likely to be a little on the slow side of average, with slightly more breaks and swings than average...

Some Contenders:-

Player

18 Month Surface Hold %

18 Month Surface Break Opponent %

Combined %





Sock *

80.5

27.3

107.8

Verdasco

82.6

24.8

107.4

Bautista-Agut

77.1

30.1

107.2

Giraldo

79.8

25.3

105.1

Delbonis

80.9

23.8

104.7

Lajovic

80

23

103.0

Querrey *

81.3

20.5

101.8

Anderson

84.9

15.3

100.2

Isner

93.6

6.4

100.0

Lopez

83.9

15.7

99.6


John Isner has made two of the last three finals on the clay of Houston...

The field in this event is an intriguing one.  My initial impression is that - for once - players have had a half decent idea about their scheduling and the better servers have picked the slightly quicker event this week, which is pretty logical.  However scheduling logic is far from a given with most players!

This event also sees the return to Tour of Janko Tipsarevic, after around 18 months out with injury.  It's impossible to tell statistically how the Serb will do, but to start with, my expectations are low.  As a new father and at almost 31 years of age, it's tough to see how he will regain former glories.  I think if he gets to the top 50 again he'll have done very well indeed.  He starts his comeback against a qualifier this week.

Lopez, Isner, Anderson and Bautista-Agut are the top seeds with byes to round two, and out of these I'm surprised Bautista-Agut hasn't played the slower Casablanca instead - it should suit him more.  Anderson hasn't done badly in Morocco previously either, but along with Lopez and Isner this event should benefit the big servers.  This is borne out by Isner making two of the last three finals, and only Juan Monaco out of the last eight finalists was a traditional clay courter.

Santiago Giraldo and Federico Delbonis have live chances as more traditional clay courters with a half-decent serve, whilst home players Sam Querrey and Jack Sock didn't play much on clay in the last 18 months but look like a reasonable threat - particularly Sock who has improved immensely in the last six months.

With a field more serve than return orientated, I'm expecting Houston to have more holds than last year, so swings may not be as likely as at Casablanca.

WTA International Katowice:-

Conditions are likely to be slightly fast, with a lower percentage of swings than average...

Some Contenders:-

Player

12 Month Surface Hold %

12 Month Surface Break Opponent %

Combined %





Radwanska A

69.7

43.2

112.9

Giorgi

71.7

37.3

109.0

Friedsam

71.8

33.8

105.6

Cornet

59.7

44.4

104.1

Kanepi

66.3

35.1

101.4

Zvonareva

60.6

40.5

101.1

Van Uytvanck

64.3

35.5

99.8

Mladenovic

65.8

33.8

99.6

Beck

55.6

43.4

99.0

Niculescu

57.0

40.4

97.4


Camila Giorgi will fancy her chances against this field in Katowice...

Agnieszka Radwanska leads the field in her home country and starts as a 2.63 favourite, which may be vulnerable considering her current form.  2014 finalists Camila Giorgi and Alize Cornet are next in the betting markets and I like last year's runner-up here, with her level indoors being very strong indeed.  The Italian is one of several players whose record is stronger indoor than outdoor, with Kristina Mladenovic and Annika Beck also enjoying indoor conditions generally.  Beck in particular has a very strong record in these low level events indoors, and her still atrocious service hold percentage is around 5-6% higher than other surfaces.

Of the outsiders, Anna-Lena Friedsam (101.00) and Alison Van Uytvanck (51.00) have some live chances with the out of form Friedsam performing well indoors towards the tail end of last season.  

Despite her triumphing last season, it's likely I'll be keen on taking on the volatile Alize Cornet, whose hold percentage isn't great, and that's also the case for Vera Zvonareva and Monica Niculescu.

There's also a lot of young players in the field and I'm keen to see how the exciting prospect Oceane Dodin fares - she takes on Anna Schmiedlova in her opener.  There are a number of others that I'm keen to assess, including Carina Witthoeft and An-Sophie Mestach.

WTA Premier Charleston:-

2014 service hold 61.4% (Clay Court mean 62.2%)

Conditions are likely to be a touch slow, with strong opportunities to swing trade.

Some Contenders:-

Player

18 Month Surface Hold %

18 Month Surface Break Opponent %

Combined %





Petkovic

68.7

47.8

116.5

Errani

62.7

52.2

114.9

Jankovic

72.6

42.3

114.9

Bouchard

71.2

42.9

114.1

Stosur

71.8

38.2

110.0

Garcia

68.4

36.7

105.1

Kerber

59.4

43.9

103.3

Keys

67.9

29.3

97.2

Stephens

62.1

33.9

96.0

Makarova

61.3

29

90.3


Andrea Petkovic is a threat in Charleston this week...

This is a real open field with 64 players participating, and the top 8 seeds getting first round byes.  Only the out of form favourite Eugenie Bouchard has odds below 10.00, which illustrates the open field.  Many players will fancy their chances this week.

Looking at the hold/break percentages, Bouchard is only fourth on the list with Andrea Petkovic boasting the best numbers.  Petkovic also performed well in March and is a live threat here.  Jelena Jankovic also showed an improved level last month and looks to be more of a threat than the last six months, whilst Sara Errani will be grateful to return to her preferred clay, although the Italian may prefer a more traditional style of clay surface.

Sam Stosur has decent stats but according to social media, the Australian has not enjoyed herself in the last couple of days, losing her luggage and having hotel issues, so with Stosur's mental strength frequently in question, perhaps she might not be in the best state for a title tilt this week.

Of the youngsters, Caroline Garcia looks to be a good outsider, and Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens still have much to prove on the surface.  Ekaterina Makarova is much worse on clay than other surfaces and the Russian is 9-12 on clay in the last three years.

It would be very difficult to predict a winner here - I'm expecting a lot of close matches and this should benefit swing traders as well.

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