The Tennis clay court season continues this week with two very different events, with the ATP enjoying the glitz and glamour of Monte Carlo, for the high-profile Masters tournament, whilst the WTA are much more down to earth with a low level International event in Bogota, Columbia.
Monte Carlo is one of my favourite events on Tour, with some epic matches both from the neutral and traders perspective having been played in Monaco in the last few years. The slightly slow court conditions - for clay - contribute to that.
There's also two clay challenger events this week in Mersin (Turkey) and Sarasota (USA), so tennis traders are treated to almost round the clock action once again.
As always, daily spreadsheets are available for both the ATP/WTA and Challenger Tours, providing betting and trading information for each match on a daily basis.
Week 13 Trading Overview (only matches where point by point data is available):-
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.
This data shows that laying players leading may not be as good a strategy as other weeks, with a high train percentage for both events. Last week's clay events had 25.5% (combined ATP) and 19.2% (WTA) trains last year so it's easy to see that Monte Carlo and Bogota had a lot of trains.
When looking at this data it's very useful to try and understand why, however. Monte Carlo, being a Masters event, has a lot of matches where there are heavy favourites - much so than a 250 in last week's tournament in Casablanca, of example. Therefore it's logical that these matches where there is a big ability differential between players would have more trains, as the player losing tends to be unable to recover deficits.
Bogota is a different issue - at almost 3000 metres above sea level, the Columbian capital's altitude ensures that conditions are likely to be fast, and whilst 2014 service holds were only a little above average, when you look at the low level of the players involved, it clearly did have some effect.
ATP Masters Monte Carlo:-
2014 service hold 74.3% (Clay Court Mean 75.6%)
Conditions are likely to be quite slow. Matches with closer ability levels are likely to have more breaks and swings...
2014 Champion: Stan Wawrinka (beat Roger Federer in the final)
Predicted Weather: 18 degrees C, sunny.
We can see immediately what an edge Rafael Nadal still has on clay, although the Spaniard's form is not good, and he starts as the 3.25 second favourite. World number one Novak Djokovic is available as the 2.38 favourite. It was Djokovic who stopped Nadal winning this event for the 9th consecutive time in 2013, and it was David Ferrer - who boasts the 3rd best hold/break stats on clay of the contenders this week - getting the beater of his more illustrious countryman in the quarter-finals last year.
That trio, along with Roger Federer, have the best clay stats in the last 18 months and there is quite a drop-off to the 5th best, Milos Raonic. That the Canadian is 5th on the contenders list may surprise some, and he's the 50-1 7th favourite this week.
2014 Champion Stan Wawrinka will fall down the rankings if he fails to defend his 1000 points here and the stats don't look promising for the Swiss player, with Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov also boasting better clay stats in the last 18 months. Even the likes of Roberto Bautista-Agut and Marin Cilic aren't far behind him. The 13.00 on Wawrinka retaining his title should only be considered by his most ardent supporters!
Looking at the draw, I'm not sure Nadal or Djokovic will have been too impressed to see each other in their half, and the likes of Berdych, Raonic, Dimitrov, Wawrinka and Federer will be fighting for semi-final berths in the bottom half of the draw.
WTA International Bogota:-
2014 service hold 63.7% (Clay Court Mean 63.0%)
Conditions are likely to be on the fast side of average. Opposing players leading should only be done in very strong circumstances...
2014 Champion: Caroline Garcia (beat Jelena Jankovic in the final)
Predicted Weather: 15 degrees C, rainy.
A slightly reduced contenders list here - these are the only players with combined hold/break percentages close to 100% in the last 18 months on clay, who have played at least 6 main draw surface matches. If that isn't an illustration of the low quality of the field here, I'm not sure what is! I fully accept that Bogota isn't a big draw to many players but there are some players around the 60-120 ranking bracket who have seriously missed out on picking up easy ranking points this week.
Top seed is Elina Svitolina. I've not hidden the fact that I felt the young Ukrainian was a good prospect from several years ago and now she is showing her potential, but she still has LOTS to prove to me on clay. A 97.7% combined percentage is not strong for a player of her rank and ability and I think she's very short at 4.00 outright this week. I'd much prefer to take the 6.50 about second seed Monica Puig, whose stats are significantly better than the whole field.
Shelby Rogers has done well on clay and will be a threat, but she has a tough opener against the Spanish clay-courter, Lourdes Dominguez Lino. Alexandra Panova against Ajla Tomljanovic is another first round match involving two of the above contenders, so given that four of the nine players featured play each other in the opening round, there will be plenty of weak participants in the latter stages of this tournament.
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