Analysis - Laying the player a break up in the first set

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Laying a player when a break up in the first set is a popular trading entry point, so I thought I’d go through some of the stats from the recent Miami Masters/Premier Mandatory tournament to get some concrete data for several variables for the player leading by the first break in the first set.

These variables were as follows:-

‘Train’ percentage - the percentage of the time that the player who took the first break in the set won the set without conceding a break point on their serve whilst they were a single break up.
Break-back percentage - the percentage of the time that the player who took the first break in the set lost the break lead to go back on serve.
Break-back percentage when at least one break point is achieved - the percentage that the player with at least one break-back point broke to get back on serve. Please note that this does not have to be the exact service game the first break point was achieved, merely that the player broke back after achieving at least one break point.

All of these three variables are crucial for trading.

The first variable, matches which ‘train’, gives us a loss if we lay the player a break up in the set, whilst a break-back creates a profitable situation for us which we can hedge in some way, shape or form. The final variable is also useful as it gives us the percentage where break points are eventually converted once they are acquired by players.

In Miami 2015, the train percentages were 50.0% in the ATP, and 37.2% in the WTA. So the player who leads by the first break in the first set in the ATP faced at least one break-back point 50% of the time, and 62.8% in the WTA. With WTA players having lower service hold percentages, this is entirely logical and the risk laying the WTA player a break up is bigger, with a lower reward, because of this. So whilst a profitable non-train scenario is generated more in the WTA, when it doesn’t occur typically a trader will lose more than in the ATP.

The break-back percentages of 39.2% (ATP) and 51.2% (WTA) were around 11% each lower than the non-train percentages of 50.0% and 62.8%, which again is absolutely logical given that a player who achieves a break point will not always break serve. Looking at the first set data from the Game State Spreadsheets, this is a higher figure than the ATP mean but lower than the WTA average.

The most surprising stat was that of the final variable. In the ATP, 78.4% of players who achieved at least one break-back point recovered the break deficit to go back on serve at some point in the set, be it in that service game or another, and this figure was slightly beaten by the 81.5% in the WTA. So when pressure is created by a player, it is eventually converted in around four out of five occasions. Interestingly, there were no WTA matches where at least three break point chances did not result in an eventual break-back.

This article should give an illustration on the statistics that can be gained by a bit of research into point by point data and how these can be related to the risk-reward in the markets on a daily basis to provide trading edges.
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