As the Australian Open draws to a close, attention in the Tennis world turns to three ATP tournaments in week five of the calendar, with the WTA having a rest week due to the Fed Cup.
All three tournaments are at the lowest 250 level, played on Indoor Hard in Zagreb and Montpellier, and on clay in Quito, Ecuador. This Quito tournament is new on the calendar and played at altitude - more on this later...
As always, detailed daily data will be available via the daily trading spreadsheets, which can be purchased via the links on the right.
Week Five 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.
We can see that with 8 trains and 6 non-trains in set three the set 3 train figures are actually lower than the previous weeks in the ATP season (week 1 65.5%, week 2 72.2%) so there should be slightly more scope for laying the break leader in set three than average.
The set two figures show a big discrepancy from each other. Zagreb's set 2 train percentage is very low for an ATP event (week 1 mean 39.5%, week 2 mean 37.5%) and Montpellier's is ridiculously high. This would illustrate that Montpellier is a very fast surface and this is indeed the case - more on this on the individual tournament preview.
Laying the set 1 winner in Montpellier when a set and break up in particular would appear to be a very poor idea, generally. The fast surface will assist players in serving out winning positions.
ATP 250 Zagreb:-
2014 service hold 82.1% (Indoor Hard mean 81.2%)
Conditions are likely to be slightly quicker than average with no significant difference to the mean.
The above hold/break stats illustrate the indoor hard/hard court stats for each contender in the last 12 months.
17 year old Borna Coric could create waves in his home event...
Quadruple-time event winner Marin Cilic has now withdrawn and this has created a very, very open event.
Adrian Mannarino has really improved in the last six months and has the best remaining stats, with five players in total having hold/break stats over 100%. Four of these are Croatian - Big server Ivo Karlovic will be virtually impossible to break in the relatively quick indoor hard surface, whilst Ivan Dodig will also be looking to do well.
Youngsters Borna Coric and Jiri Vesely are improving spectacularly and are major contenders for the latter stages - both have future top 10 potential. Coric's ATP win-loss record on the surface doesn't justify his stats currently (it does in Challengers!) so I'll be looking for some value on him here.
Interestingly, seven of the top ten contenders are strong servers, holding over 80%. Vasek Pospisil and Gilles Muller will be hard to break and tiebreaks should be highly likely in their matches. Muller, interestingly, has the better 12 month surface win-loss record but the worse hold/break stats. This is almost certainly due to the tiebreak success record of the two, with Muller winning 13/18 in the last 12 months, and Pospisil just 6/17.
Mikhail Youzhny and Andreas Seppi are on my decliners list and have mediocre stats - Youzhny's best surface is Indoor Hard and he won here in 2012, so may be more of a threat than most ATP events.
A real dark horse is Michael Berrer. The German has a spectacular record in Zagreb and has reached the final twice. He will have to fight his way through qualifying but if he does so, would be worth keeping an eye on here.
ATP 250 Montpellier:-
2014 service hold 84.1% (Indoor Hard mean 81.2%)
Conditions are likely to be significantly quicker than average. Breaks and in-set swings will be at a premium.
Just four top 30 players have made the effort to travel to France and three are French, top-ranked (19th) Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon and Richard Gasquet, along with Phillipp Kohlschreiber.
These top 30 players dominate the hold/break stats and Monfils looks the player to beat here.
Jan-Lennart Struff has a much better record indoor than outdoor and his strong serve should benefit from conditions here, and I think he could make an impact with a favourable draw. Jerzy Janowicz is inconsistent and could as easily get to the semi-finals at least, or exit in the first round.
Jarkko Nieminen looks like he is decline lately, and joins fellow decliners Denis Istomin and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in that bracket. Both Istomin and ERV have won just 9 of 26 matches on hard or indoor hard in the last 12 months.
Indoor Hard 250 King Joao Sousa completes the contenders list and with his record in these low level indoor events magnificent, to say the least, taking him on next week is done at your peril. However, his matches tend to be swingy and it wouldn't surprise me if his matches have lead changes here.
Also worth noting is the entry of Tatsuma Ito, who plays the final of the Hong Kong Challenger early Sunday morning, and then has a long flight to France. He will almost certainly be fatigued and I'd expect his Round One opening prices to drift. Benoit Paire has been awarded a wild card and based on his performances in January, he may not be anywhere close his previous best. Even then, his matches were swingy and volatile, so laying the enigmatic Frenchman when leading would seem to be mandatory next week.
ATP 250 Quito:-
2014 service hold N/A% (Clay mean 75.6%)
Conditions are unknown. However altitude should mean conditions are fast.
With Quito being a new event on Tour, conditions are unknown. However, this tournament is played at high altitude, which will mean that player fitness will be crucial and conditions are likely to play fast.
Using Kitzbuhel, Gstaad and Bogota as benchmarks for altitude, the 3 year mean increase from tour means for altitude events was 1.5% greater service holds than the mean. This will be my expectation for this event, indicating expected holds will be 77.1%.
My article which looks at records in the latter stages of events should help us with analysing this event, and which players may thrive on altitude. It's interesting that top seed Feliciano Lopez had the best deciding set record compared to expectation in 2014. Both Alejandro Falla, who also is in the 2015 decliners article, also had a strong record, as does Alejandro Gonzalez. However Gonzalez's record in 2014 on clay was atrocious, and Falla's January was mediocre in the extreme. He is now having severe problems holding consistently and maintaining break leads.
Lopez's 2014 stats were poor on clay but as the best server in the field, he should get decent benefit from the conditions. We have seen from his record on Grass that he likes fast conditions.
All-courters Martin Klizan, Santiago Giraldo and Fernando Verdasco look big threats, whilst more traditional clay-courters Paolo Lorenzi, Albert Montanes and Thomaz Bellucci will also look to perform well. Lorenzi and Montanes are in the latter stages of their career but Bellucci has already won twice in Gstaad at altitude and is highly likely to find conditions to his liking.
This promises to be a very open tournament and it wouldn't surprise me at all if we see some shock results, particularly in the opening rounds.
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