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22nd March, 2017.
I will also be writing ATP Miami previews in the coming week for Betfair Exchange and Eastbridge Sports Betting Brokers.
10th March, 2017.
My Betfair Exchange ATP Indian Wells Preview, Day 2, is available here.
9th March, 2017.
LATEST BLOG POST:-
8th March, 2017.
WTA Indian Wells Tournament Betting Preview
Indian Wells starts tonight, and is the first of two high-profile 10-day events in the USA, with Miami following. In both events, historical conditions are on the medium-slow side for hard courts - at WTA Indian Wells from 2014-2016, 63.1% of service games were held, 1.0% below the WTA hard court mean, while there were 0.22 aces per game at Indian Wells in this time period, below the 0.26 WTA hard court average.
Williams out in event where fitness is premium
With both metrics showing conditions do not favour powerful serving, it is likely that there will be longer rallies, leading to longer matches, and in temperatures predicted to be in excess of 30 degrees, conditions are likely to be a significant test of fitness. The top 32 players have first round byes, and will not be in action until at least Friday, so the winner will have to win six matches to take the title.
One player who has already failed this test is Serena Williams, with the world number one pulling out (she misses Miami as well) with a knee injury. With Maria Sharapova still banned, and Victoria Azarenka (pregnancy) also absent, the three former giants of the women’s tour are again absent from a major event, leaving the remaining lower level players, who are all capable of beating each other on any given day, to battle for glory.
Williams’ absence has made Karolina Pliskova favourite for the event, and the Czech big-server is available at a best price of 5.50 for the title. This is the first Premier Mandatory event that she has been the pre-tournament favourite.
In an open looking event, a number of further players - Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina, Simona Halep, Johanna Konta, Caroline Wozniacki, Dominika Cibulkova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Garbine Muguruza - are all available at odds of around 20.00 or below. The likes of Madison Keys, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Daria Kasatkina are all priced slightly above this mark.
Historical success of top players at the venue
Despite the open feel of this event, outright bettors should be aware that the best players have tended to take the title here. Seven of the previous ten winners were seeded in the top six, while last year’s winner, Azarenka, would have also been in this bracket if it wasn’t for injury.
Daniela Hantuchova (2007, seeded 14) and Flavia Pennetta (2014, 20) were the outliers, and in both cases defeated the tournament second seed. At least one top four seed has made the final in every one of the last ten tournaments here.
Therefore, for outright betting purposes, we should be looking for a top player with strong hold/break percentages and solid fitness levels.
Interestingly, Radwanska, with a combined hold/break percentage of 119.6% as can be seen above, leads the contenders from this metric, but statistically, she looks like a flat-track bully, with these numbers boosted by big wins over much worse opponents. She has a poor record against the better players on tour, and a woeful 20-30 record (7-12 in the last 12 months) in her last 50 third sets.
The market looks to be smart at pricing her at a seemingly generous 21.00, and is fully aware that she is likely to have fitness issues in the latter stages of matches. A potential third round clash against the rapidly improving Croatian talent, Ana Konjuh, is also a negative for the Pole.
Konta, Pliskova, Wozniacki, Halep, Svitolina, Kerber and Kuznetsova all fit the filter of having strong hold/break percentages and at least reasonable final set records - indicating solid fitness levels - with Svitolina and Kuznetsova particularly having strong records in deciders.
However, Muguruza and Cibulkova have poorer hold/break numbers on hard court - Muguruza’s issues largely lie on return, where she has broken opponents just 34.9% in the last 12 months, with Cibulkova’s coming on serve - the Slovak has held just 63.2%, below the WTA mean, in this time period.
Competitive first and fourth quarters of the draw
Looking at the draw, the top quarter, which features Pliskova, Svitolina and Muguruza, looks competitive, with several players of high peak levels also included in this bracket, such as Monica Puig, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and the immensely talented youngster, CiCi Bellis, who could face Muguruza in the second round.
Konta’s second quarter looks weaker, with Cibulkova and Kuznetsova seeded to be her main threats, although there are other dangers, with the likes of Daria Kasatkina and Barbora Strycova also in this part of the draw.
However, I do like the Brit’s draw, with Konta facing a second round match against either Nicole Gibbs or compatriot Heather Watson, before a likely third round match against the over-rated Caroline Garcia, while Kuznetsova is seeded to meet her in the last sixteen.
Having been bullish about Konta’s prospects of success, there are some fitness doubts surrounding her, as she had to withdraw from Dubai several weeks ago with a foot injury. Quotes from Konta certainly leaned towards doing so as a precaution - "I am really sorry to have to withdraw from Dubai. I came here with every intention of playing and I'm really sad I didn't get to make my debut here, but health has to come first and it's a long season,” - and I do expect her to go well in the coming ten days and can be backed at a best price of 15.00.
Wozniacki’s third quarter also looks weak, with the inconsistent 2015 winner Simona Halep looking the main threat. The Dane, Wozniacki, is in good form, being runner up in both Dubai and Doha Premier events, and with a quarter which features seeded players with many injury and ability doubts, such as Madison Keys, Carla Suarez Navarro and Sam Stosur, she also can go well here at around 21.00.
The final quarter - Kerber is the main seeded player - looks to have depth with a number of players above the 100% combined hold/break mark. I do expect the German to make progress, although with hold/break numbers not equivalent to her ranking (she is ranked 7th of the above contenders based on this metric), the current 7.00 on her looks skinny.
I will be covering the ATP event in detail for Betfair Sports, and you will be able to check out my previews for them starting tomorrow.
7th March, 2017.
I look at which players were good and bad at covering the game handicap lines in the last two years...
6th March, 2017.
3rd March, 2017.
TENNIS TRADING MATCH PREVIEWS:-
Apologies for the lack of daily previews in the last few days, I've just not been able to squeeze them into a hectic schedule! It's a brutal time right now with many matches played in various time zones, and some other gambling opportunities presenting themselves, but I certainly will try to do these as much as I can, as feedback was so positive.
Matches at the glorified ITF event in Kuala Lumpur started several hours ago, and with little in-play data on the majority of players, I'm happy to move on to the next event on today's schedule...
If someone had suggested Robin Haase and Damir Dzumhur would be playing for a place in a hard court 500 event semi-final at the start of the week, I am sure the majority of people would have tried to make sure that person wasn't drunk, but we indeed find ourselves in this situation.
Haase (1.82) is the current slight favourite for this match which begins at 11am UK time, and with both players not noted for strong service numbers, I am expecting this match to be very return orientated - indicated by both players having projected hold percentages below the 70% mark.
Indeed, both players have poor break lead retention numbers as well, and I feel that both are generally vulnerable front-runners today.
In the other matches in the United Arab Emirates, Gael Monfils takes a 4-0 head to head lead into his clash with Fernando Verdasco. It's not a match I'm enthused about with both players capable of wild ability swings.
Andy Murray despatched Guillermo Garcia-Lopez with the minimum of fuss yesterday, dropping just two games in the process, and he is a heavy 1.08 favourite to get past the German veteran, Philipp Kohlschreiber later. If Kohlschreiber does lead, and trades odds on, there may be entry positions.
Finally in Dubai, Roger Federer's conqueror, Evgeny Donskoy, is a 3.50 underdog to get past Lucas Pouille. Pouille could well be feeling it after an arduous last ten days, but equally this could have the 'after the Lord Mayor's show' effect for Donskoy. Prices look about right, projected holds are within 5% of the mean on both sides, and while Donskoy is a bad front-runner, Pouille's break deficit recovery stats are terrible. This is probably one either left best watched, or evaluation of in-play data during the match being key.
ATP Sao Paulo
Matches in Brazil start at 5pm UK time tonight, and the second round concludes this evening. There isn't a ton I like here - today's matches in general have little pre-match value - but I do expect Fabio Fognini (1.33) to be pretty strong if he falls behind in set and break down or break down in final set spots against the Challenger Tour regular, Alessandro Giannessi.
Pablo Cuevas (1.38) has had a horrific 2017 so far but is fairly priced to get past Facundo Bagnis, while Gerald Melzer (3.44) looks a little value to get past Diego Schwartzman but it's not a spot I'm hugely enthused about, with both players capable of producing a very swingy affair.
With Kuala Lumpur matches starting at 7am and Acapulco matches commencing at 10pm, traders who have stayed up for the duration this week are probably 'Going Loco' right now. Extreme night owls were rewarded with the predictable Novak Djokovic fightback in the third set this morning, when he was on the verge of exiting to Juan Martin Del Potro.
In tonight's quarter-final action, matches look accurately priced, and except for the obvious spots of heavy underdogs Yoshihito Nishioka (against 1.06 Rafa Nadal) and Nick Kyrgios (vs 1.26 Novak Djokovic) there doesn't look to be much in the way of vulnerable front-runners. After Djokovic's near-exit last night, it will certainly be interesting to see how much the brash Australian, Kyrgios, can test the Serb.
Four matches are also played in the WTA quarters overnight, with the most obvious return orientated match being Jelena Ostapenko against Lesia Tsurenko.
The Ukrainian, Tsurenko, has been backed hugely pre-match, and is in from an opening 2.56, and this gamble looks well founded considering my model priced her at 1.66 for this match. With a projected hold below 50%, I expect Ostapenko to severely struggle to hold serve and retain leads generally tonight.
Pauline Parmentier looks the other vulnerable front-runner here, with the French journeywoman a 2.80 shot to get past Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Pre-match prices (Lucic-Baroni is around 1.50) look about right.
In the other two matches, Christina McHale looks a touch of value at 2.30 to get past Monica Puig, but again, it's a spot I'm not overly enthused about, while Kristina Mladenovic looks a bit short at 1.37 to beat Kirsten Flipkens, but not unduly so. Mladenovic being over-rated is nothing new, and she was very fortunate to get past Heather Watson overnight, with the Brit amassing 22 break points.
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