Week eight of the Tennis season gets underway today and with five tournaments, and a further three Challenger events, bettors and traders are again treated to around the clock action this week. ATP events are in Acapulco and Buenos Aires (Hard, Clay, 250) and a higher level 500 in Dubai. There again is a high quality WTA Premier event, this time in Doha, and a lower International competition in Acapulco.
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.
Week Eight 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.
There were some issues getting point by point data for Acapulco so sample size is smaller than the other events, and figures are quite contrasting. The WTA event had a very low train percentage, but the ATP event was very high in the second set. This, however, could be due to a high ability differential between many competitors.
Dubai train percentage was around the ATP mean whilst Buenos Aires, as a relatively slow clay court event, was as expected slightly below. Both WTA events look to provide excellent trading conditions with train percentages below the Tour means, particularly in the third set. Laying the player a set and break up, or a break up, should yield strong positive rewards in women's action this week.
ATP 500 Dubai:-
2014 service hold 77.1% (Hard Court mean 80.2%)
Conditions are likely to be slower than average, although there were only average in-set swings in 2014...
This field is very strong for a 500 event with the top four contenders streets ahead of the field. Novak Djokovic justifies favourtism but his edge is smaller in best of 3 set events, given the higher variance and that format being less fitness dependent. The Serb arguably has a weaker half of the draw than second seed Federer.
Of the rest, Feliciano Lopez looks to have an easy run to the quarters, where he'd likely face Djokovic, and it will be interesting to see how youngsters Alex Zverev and Lucas Pouille fare. My suspicion is they are currently very over-rated.
Andy Murray faces a tough opener against the big-serving Gilles Muller after a woeful display against Gilles Simon in Rotterdam, and the final quarter seems packed with players (apart from Youzhny vs Federer) that can all beat each other.
ATP 250 Acapulco:-
2014 service hold 77.3% (Hard Court mean 80.2%)
Conditions are likely to be slower than average, with competitive matches (based on SP) likely to have swings...
My first conclusion when looking at the draw is how stacked it is in some parts and how easy other parts are for certain players.
Defending Champion Grigor Dimitrov has an absolute gift of a draw with only Ivo Karlovic likely to provide some resistance to a semi-final, where he'd probably meet David Ferrer, although how well the Spaniard will adjust to hard court coming from the slow clay in Rio (where he beat Fabio Fognini in yesterday's final) is up for debate. Ferrer's participation is strange given he's won Buenos Aires for the last three years...
Interestingly, the Bulgarian is ranked just fifth on the hold/break percentages with Viktor Troicki (from a smaller sample of 15 matches) leading the way. Top seed Kei Nishikori will be a massive threat.
Fascinating opening matches include Sam Groth against Alexandr Dolgopolov and Bernard Tomic versus Adrian Mannarino, in a clash where both players have improved significantly of late. Mannarino's stats have escalated greatly recently and his return stats are superb, although perhaps flattered by the quality of his opponents.
One match I'm keen to check out later is Austin Krajicek against Santiago Giraldo. The Columbian has perhaps surprisingly opted to play here as opposed to the clay of Buenos Aires but should be too good against the over-rated Challenger player, who is currently loved by the market after his positive variance run to the quarter-finals of Memphis. His price against Jason Jung in his Challenger defeat last week was a joke for a player with a barely positive 13-11 hard court record in Challengers in the last 12 months.
ATP 250 Buenos Aires:-
2014 service hold 74.5% (Hard Court mean 75.7%)
Conditions are likely to be slightly slower than average, with competitive matches (based on SP) likely to have swings...
Rafa Nadal is the overwhelming favourite and the stats clearly back that up, but after his defeat to Fabio Fognini in Rio, where he showed physical discomfort, this is far from a foregone conclusion for the Spaniard even against a mediocre field.
Tommy Robredo is the second seed but hasn't started 2015 well, whilst Nicolas Almagro (previous winner and runner-up) is still feeling his way back into action after a long injury lay-off.
In an open tournament, third seed Pablo Cuevas could be the one to watch with the Uruguayan having a superb 20-6 clay record at ATP level in the last 12 months.
Most of the first round clashes seem very open and competitive with most players being better on return than serve, so we should see plenty of swingy matches. I really like laying players at short prices in this event.
WTA Premier Doha:-
2014 service hold 61.0% (Hard Court mean 64.1%)
Conditions are likely to be slower than average, with many breaks and swings. Excellent trading conditions.
What a fantastic event this looks. So many competitive matches and some quarters provide a horrific draw for some players.
Defending champion and last week's Dubai winner Simona Halep very slightly edges the hold/break stats but there are six players separated by less than 5%. Victoria Azarenka has claimed the title in Qatar twice but is still to reach her heights before she was plagued by injury, with her return stats dropping by over 10% from her peak. She also faces a tough opener against Angelique Kerber, who has stuttered so far this year.
The third quarter looks the easiest and the stats fancy Venus Williams to prevail over the 'flat-track bully' Agnieszka Radwanska, who has not impressed in 2015. If Williams' fitness is decent, she is a major threat to all players.
With there being a number of top ten players on show, I'd recommend checking out my recent article which looks at top WTA players against top ten opponents.
WTA International Acapulco:-
2014 service hold 64.6% (Hard Court mean 64.1%)
Conditions are likely to be around average. Last year's data (from a small sample) indicated swingy matches.
When compiling the contenders summary I was just tempted to write Sharapova. The Russian world number two is the most dominant player of any outright tournament that I can remember of late and the combined hold/break stats illustrate this superbly. It's incredibly difficult to see how she does not win this event, and I've seen far worse 1.67 shots.
I'm looking to take on second seed Sara Errani. She makes the difficult transition from clay at Rio, where she won the event, and will have to adjust with fatigue, and her hard court stats are poor anyway. I expect her notoriously poor serve to have further issues this week if her performance at Rio (particularly against Haddad Maia) is anything to go by.
Younger players Madison Brengle and Monica Puig could go well whilst fellow prospect Sloane Stephens flatters to deceive in these low quality events and it would be a surprise to see her reach the final. I quite like the improving Timea Bacsinszky to come through her quarter and it wouldn't shock me if she went deep in the event.
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