There is a busy schedule this week with two tournaments in each of the ATP and WTA, as players look to obtain some last minute preparation for the French Open, which starts next Sunday. All four events have a few matches today, as they run from a Sunday-Saturday schedule.
ATP Dusseldorf has been removed from the calendar, replaced by a new tournament in Geneva. It is difficult to know much about the conditions in new tournaments, so this will need to be assessed during the course of the week.
As always, detailed daily data will be available via the ATP/WTA daily trading spreadsheets, which can be purchased via the links on the right.
With Geneva a new event on the schedule, historical information is impossible to source.
Week 18 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.
The data above may surprise some readers, with there being relatively low train percentages considering that the events are played in the week before a Grand Slam. Many people speculate that players tank in these type of tournaments, and the numbers above refute this.
Indeed, in Nice, 12/27 matches where I could get point by point went to three sets, and with this figure being around 10% above the Tour mean, it's clear that players generally gave their best efforts when losing last season.
Based on the figures above, I don't think that traders should necessarily fear backing players in losing positions this week, and should treat each match on its merits, as opposed to worry about any lack of effort.
ATP 250 Geneva:-
2014 service hold N/A% (Clay Court Mean 76.7%)
Conditions are unknown, as the tournament is new on the calendar.
2014 Champion: N/A
Predicted Weather: 14-22 degrees C, mixed
Stan Wawrinka starts as favourite in his home country, and as the top ranked player, that's relatively unsurprising. However, it's worth noting that he has an awful record in Gstaad, where altitude creates quick conditions to his distaste. Gstaad is three times the altitude of Geneva, so that will be less of an issue for him. Having said this, he has much to prove in Switzerland, losing 18 out of his last 50 in his home country, generating a shocking -34% ROI based on Pinnacle closing prices in those matches. He looks a big swerve in the outrights at 2.38.
The tournament looks close with all ten listed players being separated by 9% in the combined hold/break percentages, and 7 above 100%. The second and third quarters look especially weak, with the winner of the second round match between Carlos Berlocq and Pablo Andujar likely to create one semi-finalist, and likewise Thomaz Bellucci and Albert Ramos in the third quarter. Ramos has a very nice draw against the clay hating duo of Marinko Matosevic and the seeded Benjamin Becker.
I'm also interested in seeing how young prospect Andrey Rublev fares after taking out Jarkko Nieminen in the first match of the tournament.
ATP 250 Nice:-
2014 service hold 77.7% (Clay Court Mean 76.7%)
Conditions are a little quicker than average, although it's difficult to read too much into this...
2014 Champion: Ernests Gulbis (beat Federico Delbonis)
Predicted Weather: 17-22 degrees C, mostly sunny.
This is a really competitive tournament with all the above players likely to feel they could win it. Gilles Simon starts as favourite at around 5.00, which seems strange given his hold/break stats, although he has an absolute gift of a draw, with a quarter featuring Thanasi Kokkinakis (who plays in the final of the Bordeaux Challenger today), James Duckworth, Borna Coric and another clay-hater in Bernard Tomic, as well as two qualifiers.
The third quarter looks the most competitive, with Nick Kyrgios, Dominic Thiem, Alex Dolgopolov and defending champion Ernests Gulbis in that. Gulbis, after an awful start to 2015, has points to defend here and will be under pressure to do so. He still has nice clay stats over 18 months, but will need to find his 2014 form fast...
Jack Sock could be the bet here at 17.00 - he has very strong clay stats, as seen above, and has a likely second round meeting with the over-rated Pablo Carreno-Busta, who again benefits from a gift match against the young French player, Maxime Hamou. John Isner is probably Sock's biggest threat in the bottom quarter, and I'd be amazed to see one of these two not make the semi-finals.
WTA International Nurnburg:-
2014 service hold 61.5% (Clay Court Mean 63.6%)
Conditions are likely to be a little slow with good trading conditions for laying the leader in matches...
Predicted Weather: 15-23 degrees C, mixed.
This event is much more mixed in ability, with home players Andrea Petkovic and Angelique Kerber unsurprisingly the top two players in the outright odds. Petkovic has a nice draw and I like her chances of progression to the latter stages.
Fellow countrywoman Sabine Lisicki is the third favourite at 9.50 but this is ludicrous. She has an atrocious record on clay, as seen by the hold/break percentages, and is in no form whatsoever. She has a nice looking draw but for her, that's no guarantee whatsoever.
In the third quarter, Roberta Vinci is at almost double the price of Lisicki (17.00) and has already advanced to round two with a straight sets win over Vitalia Diatchenko. She takes on the winner of Smitkova/Mitu in round two, and has an easy looking quarter final, with Kurumi Nara likely to be the opponent looking to prevent her taking a semifinal. I like the Italian's chances of that, at least.
Kerber should have a relatively easy passage to the latter stages too - talented youngster Anna Schmiedlova her likely barrier - and we are also treated to an almost certain break-fest between Klara Koukalova and Annika Beck.
WTA International Strasbourg:-
2014 service hold 68.2% (Clay Court Mean 63.6%)
Conditions are likely to be quite fast, although last years data indicated there were opportunities to lay the dominant match leader...
Predicted Weather: 17-24 degrees C, mixed.
Conditions in France are likely to be very fast and it's something that a lot of the entry list have picked up on, with players stronger on serve than return on the contenders list, with several exceptions.
Picks of the first round matches are definitely Madison Keys vs Christina McHale, and Monica Puig against Sam Stosur. Don't expect a ton of breaks in the latter match...
Top seed Keys has a nice looking quarter if she can get past McHale, with Kristina Mladenovic arguably most likely to trouble her. 5th seed Zarina Diyas has much to prove on clay to me. I also like the chances of the Puig/Stosur match winner to progress to the semi-final.
Jelena Jankovic should be the player that either of those two meet, with Irina Falconi, Saisai Zheng and then the over-rated Sloane Stephens her likely opponents to that stage. A low level event in the week before a Slam doesn't seem the most likely event Stephens will perform well in.
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