April 2013 Archive


Tuesday, April 30th, 2013.

 

Yesterday should have been an excellent day for followers, with some matches in particular proving excellent for trading.  The players that disappointed me were Davydenko and Garrigues, although at least Garrigues gave us the opportunity to trade out at the end of the second set.  Certainly if you followed some of the recommended entry points in the Kuznetsova, Suarez Navarro, Paire and particularly Goffin matches you would have found yourself in an excellent position.  The Goffin match, in particular, was a superb match for trading.  Breaks were constantly broken back.  I had friends over so it was tough for me to trade that match in entirety, but I caught a few nice swings and made 3% of my bank from that match.  I have no doubts that looking at the scoreline and the price graph that a figure closer to 10% of bank could have been achieved by re-investing money opposing Sousa repeatedly when a break was achieved.

 

Tuesday Previews:-

 

On a busy day of 26 matches, our action starts at 10am in Munich with the opening two matches.  As I mentioned in the tournament previews yesterday, there should be less breaks in Munich due to the faster courts. This should mean there are fewer breaks than average, and because of that I will be concentrating more on the matches in Oeiras today.

 

However, I will preview the two early matches...

 

In what could be a fascinating match for the neutral, Ernests Gulbis takes on Jarkko Nieminen.  Gulbis starts as 1.56 favourite, and if he plays close to his best that should be good enough to beat the Finn, who has played an awful lot of matches lately.  With the courts traditionally fast in Germany, I have the projected serve hold for each player being 84% and 81% respectively.  I’m not sure I want to get too involved in this match myself.  Gulbis is still highly inconsistent and Nieminen has cost me a bit in the last few weeks.  

 

Mikhail Youzhny starts as a 1.51 favourite against Radek Stepanek.  Stepanek has not won a match since surgery, losing in straight sets to Ramos and Gulbis, whilst Youzhny was highly disappointing in his defeat to Hanescu last week in Bucharest.  Bearing that in mind I couldn’t recommend taking the 1.51 on the Russian.  Again, projected holds are relatively high, at 80.7% for Stepanek and 85.5% for Youzhny.  Again, this may not be the best match to trade with high projected holds and both players in mediocre form.  

 

Marion Bartoli and Shuai Peng get the women started in Portugal this morning at around 11am.  Bartoli is making her first appearance on clay this season, which means she may possibly start slowly.  It must also, however, be said that Peng has only two qualifying matches on the dirt herself - beating Jill Craybas and then losing to 170 ranked Anna-Lena Friedsam in Stuttgart.  I couldn’t take the 1.6 on offer on Bartoli, as her clay record was highly unimpressive last season, winning 2 of 7 matches.  Her opponent has exactly the same record, but interestingly has a slightly better average service hold in those encounters.  

 

As with many of the matches in Portugal, I can see there being breaks.  I’m particularly interested in opposing Bartoli at short prices should she go a break up.

 

Galina Voskoboeva starts at 1.6 favourite against Sofia Arvidsson, and to be honest I can’t accept that price either.  Voskoboeva had a poor 2-4 record on clay last year, whereas Arvidsson’s record was a much more impressive 7-5.  Considering that Arvidsson has marginally the better projected hold figure (58% to 56%), this also indicates there could be a little value on the Swede.  However we must temper this with the fact Arvidsson is yet to feature on clay, whilst Voskoboeva has had three qualifying matches to get acclimatised to the conditions.  So I’d recommend that any pre-match wager on Arvidsson is kept small.

 

This does look good for trading though, with both women expected to hold a fair bit less than WTA average.  I’m definitely looking to oppose either player a break up in this, especially Voskoboeva.  It is worth mentioning that I also expect Arvidsson to save a fair few break points, based on the pressure point stats.  So if you do lay Arvidsson’s serve at any point, it may be worth trading out with profit on break points, as opposed to waiting for their conversion.

 

The defending champion Kaia Kanepi takes on Kristina Mladenovic in the streamed match at around 12:30pm.  It’s vital for Kanepi to defend her ranking points, as her ranking has slipped after a spell out with injury.  Since her return to action, her results have been very mixed but I do fancy her to get the job done here today at odds of around 1.3.  Mladenovic appears to be a somewhat streaky player and a player that suffers from fatigue issues.  She was definitely tired in her defeat to Scheepers last week in Marrakech, and also got to the doubles final so will have had to travel as well.  I’m looking to take the bigger price on Kanepi to win if she falls behind.  Mladenovic is very inconsistent and her serve may be further exposed by the windy conditions here.  I can see her getting broken on numerous occasions today.

 

There are only two other women’s matches streamed today, and they’re the last two on court.  

 

Francesca Schiavone will be confident going into her match with Lourdes Dominguez Lino after comfortably beating her in the final of Marrakech on Sunday, and she starts as a 1.45 favourite.  In the three matches that they’ve played so far, Schiavone has won all three without dropping a set, and only lost 4 games in her facile victory in Morocco.

 

It would be a surprise if there wasn’t more of the same on offer today, although I feel the oddsmakers have got their lines about right here.  Matches between these two have featured breaks (6 breaks in 16 games on Sunday, plus 11/22 and 7/22 in the other previous encounters) and I can see more of the same today.  I’m especially looking to oppose the Lino serve when in front and in pressure situations.

 

No punter seems to want to touch Dominika Cibulkova in her clash with Urszula Radwanska, with the Slovak drifting from 1.35 to 1.47 after withdrawing from Marrakech last week.  Radwanska had some tough matches on clay in the last year with her three defeats coming as underdog to Bertens, Arvidsson and Kvitova whilst she had victories, also as an underdog, against Lepchenko, Bartoli and Parmentier.  So her 3-3 record may be a little unfair on her.  Cibulkova is 8-5 on the surface in the last 12 months.   With both players projected service hold being low, I can see both women struggling to hold serve here, especially the Pole, so I will be looking to oppose either player when in front.  This match should be fairly swingy and both women have the potential to throw away winning positions.  

 

The early streamed match in the men’s tournament features Julien Benneteau, who has struggled to string any decent results together lately, and the ITF sensation (who hasn’t disgraced himself by any means on the ATP Tour) Pablo Carreno-Busta.  Benneteau, largely due to his experience and ability, starts as favourite, although at 1.63 it’s considerably bigger than any price that may have been available on him if he was in any sort of form.  Carreno-Busta appears to have few problems qualifying for main tour events currently and will be accustomed to the conditions having done so here as well.  He’s beaten Pablo Andujar and Robin Haase in the main draw and was not disgraced at all last week, losing a tough 3 setter to Brazilian clay courter Thomaz Bellucci.  

 

I can see him also troubling the Frenchman here, who didn’t impress at all in his only clay outing so far this season against Milos Raonic.  With projected serves both below the 70% mark, I can see breaks here as well.  It’s worth noting that Carreno-Busta’s match with Bellucci was a ‘traders dream’ match with both players swapping breaks with regularity.  There could be more of the same on show today.

 

Rui Machado makes a rare foray into ATP main draw action as he takes on Victor Hanescu, who performed pretty well at home in Bucharest last week.  Machado is a player I tend to oppose in main draws, as his record is pretty poor.  He is 1-5 in the last year, and 11-34 in his career (24%) which indicates to me that he is the sort of player who impresses in Challengers but finds the step up to ATP too big.  Hanescu has a much better career record with a 45% success ratio.  I feel this is one of those matches where the bookies offer a little value on the home player’s opponent and the 1.62 on offer on Hanescu may well be worth a small interest pre-match.

 

Both players have a poor service break percentage even on their favoured clay, with Hanescu’s at 18.9%, and Machado’s at 19.4%, so although Machado especially has a weak serve, I wouldn’t look to lay the server at any point today.  It’s also worth mentioning that the stats indicate that Hanescu should save a high percentage of break points in this encounter.  

 

At around 4pm Daniel Gimeno-Traver faces the in-form Tommy Robredo.  Robredo may be a little tired after his exploits in Barcelona, where he eventually fell to Milos Raonic in a long 3-setter in his second match of the day.  Robredo starts as a 1.4 favourite and without taking into account fatigue issues that looks about right based on the stats.  I’m looking to lay Gimeno-Traver, who hasn’t impressed me at all recently, if he goes in front in this, although that has to come with the caveat that I will be assessing the fitness of Robredo during the match.

 

Finally the wildcard Gastao Elias takes on the Argentinian clay-courter Horacio Zeballos.  Zeballos has drifted into 1.66 from 1.53, with the market presumably again liking the chances of a player in their home country.  Looking at their records on clay in Challengers, it appears to be a fair price with Zeballos edging the records with a 74% win percentage to the 64% of Elias.  I can see there being a few breaks and swings here.  Both players have projected service holds a shade under 70% so it would appear that laying the player that gets a break in front could be a viable strategy.  

As always, good luck with what you decide to bet or trade on today, and there will be more tomorrow.

 

Monday, April 29th, 2013.

 

A new week, and hopefully plenty of opportunities as we continue the clay season at pace.

 

There are two ATP tournaments this week, at Munich for BMW Open, and the Portugal Open in Oeiras.  The ladies are also at Oerias this week in the sole WTA competition.

 

It’s hard to know how the conditions will play in Portugal this week.  The forecast is reasonable, with sun most days and being around 18-21 degrees, but with it being a new tournament on the circuit, replacing Estoril, there is no data available from previous years to attempt to determine court speeds.  EDIT:  From good sources, I now understand that it is on the same site as previous Estoril tournaments.  

 

The last four years winners at Estoril were shared between Juan Martin Del Potro and Albert Montanes.  However, neither are playing this week so we will have a new winner.  Last year the overall service hold percentage was low, at 71.9%, and with the all-time figure at 71.1%, we can assume the surface is fairly slow.  

 

With regard to the ladies at Estoril, no player has won the tournament twice in the last ten years  Kaia Kanepi is defending champion and will have plenty of motivation to defend her points to stop her ranking slipping further.  She did not play well against Minella last week, and so cannot be backed outright with any confidence.  Anabel Medina Garrigues won in 2011 and I have tipped her against Sorana Cirstea today (see preview below).  As with the men, court speed would appear to be slow.  There were only 57.1% holds in 2012, and 55.5% overall (WTA all-time average is 60.5% for clay).  So we can expect to see plenty of breaks of serve this week in Portugal.

 

In Munich, the average service hold last year was 83.2%, way above the current 12 month ATP average of 75.3%.  There were also few aces per game, and break points faced per game than the ATP mean.  Over the life of the tournament, the average service hold is 78.5%, still above the average.  So we will need to be careful with opposing servers this week.  Last year, Philipp Kohlschreiber defeated Marin Cilic in the final, and both are in the draw this week.  Kohlschreiber also won the tournament in 2007, and Cilic was runner up as well in 2010.  The last two years have featured a German in the final, with Florian Mayer losing in the 2011 final to Nikolay Davydenko.  Mikhail Youzhny is another one with success here with three finals in the last six years.  

 

Cilic appears to have a reasonable draw, with a bye into the last 16 where he will face Davydenko or Ivan Dodig.  His likely quarter final opponent would be Alexandr Dolgopolov, before possibly facing Mayer, Tommy Haas or Ernests Gulbis in the semi finals.  I feel the second seed Cilic would have little to fear here, and justifies his favourite tag at odds of around 6.50.

 

The match between Nikolay Davydenko and Ivan Dodig get us underway in the German capital at just after 11am and the Russian is favourite at around 1.36.  Regular readers may have noted that I don’t rate Dodig at all on the dirt, and whilst I’m not particularly a fan of Davydenko either on the surface, he should have too much here in a match that I feel will feature a fair few breaks.  I feel that Dodig, who has a service hold percentage of 64.7% on clay in the last 12 months will have his serve pressurised by Davydenko on many occasions.  I’ll be looking to lay Dodig should he get a break up on Davydenko today.   It would have to be one of Davydenko’s bad days for him not to get opportunities to level from there.

 

There are two matches at around 1pm after that, with the all-German clash between the big-serving Daniel Brands and Tobias Kamke looking intriguing.  As we saw against Gilles Simon last week, if you can negate the big serve of Brands and draw him into rallies then he should be able to be broken with some regularity.  Kamke’s return game may not be of the Frenchman’s ilk, but it should still give him opportunities.  Kamke himself has a very weak serve, holding at 62.2% over the last year on clay so there may be breaks here.  If Kamke goes in front, I’ll definitely look to oppose him as this should push Brands over even money from his starting price of 1.56.

 

Paul-Henri Mathieu’s match with Dimitry Tursunov is a match I feel is totally unpredictable from a pre-match standpoint.  The Russian starts as a marginal 1.8 favourite (twitter followers will have seen that I posted an available ‘arb’ on this match earlier, with Mathieu available at 2.63 with Stan James around an hour ago).  He shocked David Ferrer last week in Barcelona, in a win that few would have predicted.  He then lead the Brazilian clay courter Thomaz Bellucci before losing in three sets.  I didn’t watch that game but I have heard that he was struggling with an injury during the latter stages of that match.  It also must be said that Tursunov isn’t good on clay despite last week, and those odds surely have an element of the ‘flavour of the week’ built in.  Mathieu is very at home on the surface but his recent results have been terrible, losing his last seven matches (four of those as favourite).  I’m especially wary of that due to his age.  So until we see that he is competing at a reasonable level, I can’t contemplate backing the Frenchman either.  This is a match I’ll possibly just completely leave alone.  My stats, however, do show that Tursunov should have success defending break points here.  That’s a trade I’d consider, certainly from a 15-40 scoreline where the risk is lower than at 30-40.

 

The final match in Germany today is the clash between Marinko Matosevic and Kevin Krawietz.  I must admit to knowing little about the young wildcard, but the stats indicate that he will have a tough time here against the Australian.  With a projected service hold of 59%, I can see him being broken on numerous occasions.  Furthermore, his challenger stats show that he is also weak saving break points.  Matosevic himself is no great shakes on clay but at odds of 1.21, should have more than enough to defeat Krawietz here.  I’m looking to oppose Krawietz on a few occasions if winning, and perhaps at latter stages in the unlikely event of him trading odds on but facing a break point at 30-40 or 40-A.

 

Moving west to Portugal now, where there are four ATP matches and six WTA matches at Oeiras today.

 

Maria Joao Koehler, a wildcard in her own country, takes on the Russian, Elena Vesnina at around 11am in the first match at WTA Oeiras.  Koehler has had little success on the main WTA tour, with the vast majority of her ranking points accumulated on the lower ITF tour.  Indeed, despite her ranking of 105, she has only won two from ten matches on the main WTA tour.  In those ten matches, on either hard courts or clay, she has held a mere 53.3% of her service games.  Today’s projected hold percentage for her is 48.3%, against a good opponent in Vesnina, who starts as 1.33 favourite.  In this clash, I’m looking to try and take a bigger price on Vesnina, whose experience and ability should be too much for the young Portuguese.  Both players, however, appear to have a great record defending break points (particularly Vesnina), so traders may wish to take earlier profit at a scoreline such as 15-40 as opposed to waiting for the break here.

 

The next streamed match at around 12:30pm UK time is Svetlana Kuznetsova against Varvara Lepchenko.  Kuznetsova starts as favourite, at around 1.6.  When looking at the surface stats, this looks extremely generous.  However we must consider that Kuznetsova has not played since mid-march when she lost in the third round of Miami.  Lepchenko last played in the first week of April, having a good run on clay in Charleston before losing in three sets to Venus Williams.  On that basis, I can’t accept the odds-on price on Kuznetsova, and I’d be surprised if she didn’t trade bigger than evens, at least after a slow start.  I’m looking to oppose Lepchenko if she starts well here.  Kuznetsova has broken 49.4% of opponents service games on clay in the last twelve months so should be too strong if she eventually finds her form.

 

At around 2pm we have another streamed match between Marina Erakovic and Carla Suarez Navarro.  The Spaniard starts as 1.3 favourite on her natural surface and looking at the service stats and Erakovic’s clay record I can’t argue with that.  Erakovic has a 51.1% projected hold today - and although it’s not the only factor in my calculations, Suarez Navarro breaking opponents 49% in the last 12 months on clay is another worthy consideration.  Erakovic, on the other hand, has a losing clay record and has only broken 22.2% in the last year on clay.  I’m looking to oppose Erakovic if she gets in front.  Whilst I actually believe the 1.3 prematch price is of some value, I’m going to be ambitious and look for bigger if Suarez Navarro falls behind.

 

The final streamed match is an interesting clash as Anabel Medina Garrigues appears to be a very backable favourite at 1.83 against Sorana Cirstea.  Garrigues has a 13-9 record on clay in the last year, whereas Cirstea’s 4-6 record is not nearly as impressive.  She also did not impress in Marrakech last week, in her defeat to Scheepers.  Furthermore, the projected holds of 62.1% for Cirstea, and 78.7% for Garrigues also bear out that there is significant pre-match value on the Spaniard on her favoured surface.  

 

David Goffin’s meeting with Pedro Sousa kicks off the live streamed action on the ATP side in Portugal and it’s hard to see past the Belgian at odds of 1.36.  The Portuguese, who at the age of almost 25, should be much more established if he is going to make a name for himself.  He has only played three ATP main draw matches, losing the lot.  Furthermore, he’s only held serve 54.5% of the time in those matches, breaking on 11.8% of occasions.  Those stats point to another defeat here and I think even 1.36 is generous on Goffin today.  However, I will wait and see if I can get bigger.  I cannot do anything but back Goffin from a losing position here, unless there is a visible factor I see in play.  

 

The enigmatic Frenchman Benoit Paire is next up on court, facing Igor Sijsling.  Whilst I am a big fan of trading Paire matches, I’m not sure Sijsling will be good enough on this surface to significantly trouble him.  Sijsling has a pretty mediocre record on the surface, failing to win either of his two main draw matches in the last year.  He only took four games off Andrey Kuznetsov last week in Bucharest (he was favourite for that match).  Furthermore, on the lower Challenger circuit, his clay record is 2-3, with his only wins coming against Vagnozzi (WR 170) and Giorgini (WR 302).  It’s going to be a big step up for him today against Paire, on arguably Paire’s best surface.  I’ll look to back Paire if he falls behind in this, although of course that comes with a huge caveat.  If his head has gone, I probably won’t...

 

The last match streamed in Portugal today is the clash between Gilles Muller and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.  With Muller being a strong server and having a limited return game, we cannot expect breaks aplenty here.  Roger-Vasselin starts at around 1.44 favourite, and based on recent form that’s about right.  The stats have this marginally closer but Roger-Vasselin still a worthy favourite.  Perhaps one I might not get too involved in.

If you can take the time to comment on the new comments tab, I’d be very grateful.  I would really appreciate your feedback, and to know what you’d like to see more or less of.  

 

As always, good luck with what you decide to bet or trade on today, and there will be more tomorrow.

 

Friday, April 26th, 2013.

 

We are at the quarter final stage in all tournaments today, with the current exception of Barcelona.  Rain in Spain forced them to abandon play yesterday, and with the forecast bad for the rest of the week, I can see there being bad scheduling problems for the organisers, and therefore the players too.  Two matches in a day is almost certain for some players, and it may pay to oppose players with injury and fitness doubts over them.

Action begins a little earlier today than previously this week with a 9am UK time start in Bucharest...

 

In that early match, Brands takes on the 3-time winner, Simon.  Simon starts as 1.46 favourite, although he had many problems seeing off Nieminen in the last round, having to save 4 break points in his final service game to seal the victory.  He also needed a massage in the 3rd set, complaining of cramps.  However, that was two days ago so may not be particularly relevant now.  

 

I do feel Simon is worthy of that price - he has a much better record on clay and, as I said, loves the conditions here.  I do like to try and take advantage of the Frenchman’s weak serve, but today it may not be tested by Brands, who has only broken 17.3% of opponents service games in his ten previous clay matches in the last year.  Instead of which, I’m going to try and oppose Brands’ serve selectively.  Whilst the German certainly falls into the ‘Big Serving’ category, he only holds 82.7% on the dirt and Simon has broken an incredible 35% on the surface in his 25 matches on clay in the last year.  Certainly, if Simon can deny Brands many free points on his serve and draw him into rallies, he will have a big advantage.

 

Next up after that in the Romanian capital, the oddsmakers have found it difficult to split the inconsistent Troicki, and the Czech, Rosol.  Rosol starts 1.87 favourite, and his results in the last year or two on clay are not bad at all for a player of his level.  Whilst I love opposing Troicki when a break up, I’m not sure this match is the best to do it on - Rosol only breaks 21.2% on clay in the last year which is below the 24.4% average.  A match I might not get too involved in.

 

At around mid-day UK Time, Tipsarevic starts his match with Garcia-Lopez.  The world number 10 starts as 1.35 favourite against the Spaniard, who did well to fight his way back from a set down against Stakhovsky yesterday.  Whilst Tipsarevic hasn’t shown the best form prior to this tournament, I do feel he is not worth opposing pre-match.  His record on clay is much better than GGL’s, (21-7 compared to 11-10 in the last year), and also boasts much better serve and return stats.  Therefore I will be looking to take the bigger price on the Serb, if he gets a break or set down, and trading from there.  I’ll also look to oppose Garcia-Lopez in the lead up to pressure situations.  My research shows he’s pretty clutch at saving break points, but it’s just getting to that point that causes me, and other people, to think he struggles with choking!  

 

Hanescu starts as very marginal 1.94 favourite at home against Mayer.  It must be the miracle of the home surface.  Maybe I’ll write an article about that one day.  But, in one sentence, an advantage from playing in your own country is basically a myth.  With Hanescu having an 8-16 record in all ATP matches in the last year and is 4-6 on clay (with two of those wins this week) I cannot have him as favourite against Mayer, who is super-inconsistent but is a far superior player.  With Hanescu’s projected hold a little above 70%, I’ll be looking to trade some serve games of the Romanian, opposing him when leading and probably in pressure situations too.  He went from 40-0 to deuce serving for the first set (including a double fault at 40-30) yesterday against Youzhny, who pretty much handed him the victory.

 

We start at 9:30 in Barcelona, although with the weather forecast there, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether we will.

 

Paire has the unfortunate task of attempting to defeat 1.02 Nadal in the opening match, and probably won’t!  I’m sure it will be entertaining though.

At around 11am we have two matches.  Robredo v Berdych was scheduled yesterday, and I previewed it, so I’ll just paste my preview up here for easy access.

 

Berdych starts 1.4 (now 1.47) favourite and I feel that’s vulnerable.  He has not played well lately and Robredo definitely has, winning in Casablanca.  Furthermore, their stats aren’t that far apart on clay.  Both players should cruise when taking first sets, and Robredo has marginally the better deciding set record.  I’m looking to lay Berdych if he breaks first in the first set.

 

Nishikori’s match with Ramos is now streamed after being put back from yesterday and the Japanese is a 1.59 favourite, which I feel is a truly outstanding price.  He is much the superior player on all surfaces and boasts a better win record and surface stats than his Spanish opponent.  It must be the miracle of playing at home again leading to this generosity from the bookmakers...

 

I’ll be looking to oppose Ramos if he goes a break up, I love Nishikori’s ability in pressure situations and he is very good at turning around losing positions.  Ramos has a low projected hold percentage in this match, and I’m looking to try and profit from his weak serve.

 

The last streamed match today in Spain is the match between another Spaniard, Almagro, and the Argentine, Monaco, who has appeared to play himself back into form in the last week or two.  This is the only match currently scheduled in Barcelona that is actually a quarter-final - the others are still Round of 16 matches.

 

Almagro starts 1.62 favourite and I feel that’s short.  For me, this price should be closer to evens.  Monaco actually has a marginally higher projected hold (74.7% to 74.0%) and has won 70% on clay as opposed to 73% for Almagro.  A cigarette paper between them.  Monaco has a weaker serve but breaks much more - I can see there being a few breaks in this potentially.  

 

The sessions are split in Stuttgart, with two matches played in the early afternoon and two later in the evening.

 

Kerber against the (in my opinion) generally over-rated Shvedova starts us off.   I feel Shvedova just a typical WTA ballbasher and we can definitely oppose her in selected matches.  Unfortunately today, as we’ve seen with players like Goerges in the past, and to a certain extent this week, the fast courts of Stuttgart suit those type of players.  Kerber starts as 1.37 favourite, and although I didn’t see any of her facile victory over Pavlyuchenkova, she may be given a more thorough work-out today.  Shvedova is 6-2 on clay in the last year, with Kerber 13-4.  Furthermore, the projected holds are not much different either.  I don’t think I’ll look to trade the serves too much on this one - this match looks to be about expectation.  As I’ve mentioned before, Shvedova has a terrible record in deciding sets and this may play on her mind.

 

The other early match in Germany is the intriguing clash between Sharapova and Ivanovic.  Sharapova needed three tough sets to dispose of Safarova yesterday, in a match that lasted an arduous 3 hours and 9 minutes.  Sharapova starts at 1.29, and I think based on clay court win percentages (95% to 67%) that’s pretty generous, although of course it also takes into account Ivanovic breezed through yesterday whereas Sharapova certainly did not.  Both players’ clay court service hold percentages are good, over 70%, but they are well above average for breaking serve too - Sharapova has broken opponents serve 47% in the last year, and Ivanovic a superb 50.9%.  However, it’s difficult to predict many breaks when both players have an impressive serve.   Perhaps one to watch and see how it develops, bearing in mind potential fatigue for Sharapova.

 

I am looking forward to the slightly lower quality on offer in Marrakech today.  Often it’s the players who aren’t at the top level that give us good opportunities.

 

Two matches start us off at 1pm, with the Dominguez Lino v Bertens clash being streamed.

 

I mentioned previously that I’m a big fan of Bertens and she should have earnt followers money yesterday with a good 3-set victory against Pennetta.  She currently trades at 1.52, and whilst I like this, I am kicking myself that I didn’t get in early and take the 1.6 or so on offer earlier.  Lino struggled to get past the out-of-form Pironkova, turning round a set and 3-0 deficit against the Bulgarian, who must be praying for the grass court season to come as quickly as possible.  

 

This is a match where I’m looking to trade the serves of both players.  I’m especially looking at opposing Lino if she gets a break up.  Bertens is a fighter with a good deciding set record.  Both players have sub 60% projected holds, according to my model.  Lino is 9-7 on clay in the last year whereas Bertens is 10-5.  There could be some good opportunities here.  

 

The non-streamed match between Minella and Soler-Espinosa also interests me.  With there being slightly fewer matches today, there may be some better liquidity in the non-streamed clashes.  Minella has impressed me recently, giving Kvitova a scare two weeks ago, and defeating Kanepi when priced as a huge underdog yesterday.  After a big win, often players disappoint (research project possibly there!) so anything can happen here.  Soler-Espinosa has been backed from 1.52 to 1.32, so clearly the markets feel as though she has an excellent chance of taking this.  I’m not one for looking at Head to Heads in good detail, as my research has found them mostly irrelevant unless one opponent is utterly dominant over the other, although most of the tennis media appear to be oblivious to this fact.  However, it’s worth mentioning that Soler-Espinosa did beat Minella on clay in February, in Acapulco, in straight sets.

 

I’m looking to get a bigger price on Soler-Espinosa before backing her.  A break down in the first set would be a reasonable start in my opinion.  I still don’t rate the Minella serve.  

 

At just after 2pm, we have a potentially close match between Mladenovic and Scheepers.  Scheepers starts at 1.79, and at this point it’s worth making the point that Mladenovic has struggled on serve this week - she was broken 6 times by Cadantu and gave up 17 break points in 15 service games.  Putintseva couldn’t take much advantage yesterday of her 7 opportunities, only breaking twice.  My considered opinion is that the 1.79 on Scheepers is probably reasonable value.  Don’t forget Mladenovic had to leave the court in a wheelchair, due to fatigue, against Cadantu in the first round.  I’ll be looking also to take the above-evens on offer on Scheepers should she fall behind in this.  I can’t help feeling she will get more than a few opportunities on the Mladenovic serve.

 

The final match of the day in Morocco is another interesting one, with the Italian veteran Schiavone starting as slight favourite at 1.7 againstCornet.  Whilst, as I said earlier, I don’t look into head to heads often, I do feel that the 8-1 lead Schiavone has over Cornet warrants consideration.  However, on all those occasions, Schiavone was ranked higher and in the last 6 occasions, in the top 20.  Now she is ranked 48, whereas Cornet is now ranked higher at 33.

 

The projected service holds are both low, a little under 60%.  So we should expect breaks here.  Schiavone’s is marginally higher, so when considering solely that it would appear the starting price is fair.  However, Cornet boasts the superior win percentage on clay in the last year (71% to 63%), so I think I will go against the market (who love a good head to head record) and say that Cornet is a little value.

 

As always, good luck with what you decide to bet or trade on today.  I’m having a well earned weekend off so check back for more on Monday.

 

Thursday, April 25th, 2013.

 

Before we start with today’s match previews, I thought I’d share some stats that I’ve compiled based on the first round of each tournaments.

Regular readers will recall that in my tournament preview on Sunday, I mentioned that with the quick indoor conditions in Stuttgart, the tournament plays more like a mens tournament with regard to the amount of service breaks.  This has been borne out again with this weeks data.  Service hold in the first round was 71.37%, which is way above the 12 month WTA average of 61.1% on clay.  Therefore, we need to be careful when trading servers - in fact opportunities may exist the other way!  

 

In Marrakech, statistics are much more closer to the mean.  In the first round of matches, serve was held 62.28%.  I read a comment on twitter yesterday which stated that the courts there were playing really fast - these stats don’t really confirm that assertion.  Again, as often seems to be the case with social media, that’s the danger of reading subjective statements and believing them in a nutshell.

 

The mean ATP service hold on clay is 75.6% over the last 12 months, and actually both tournaments have had a shade more breaks than that average.  Barcelona had 72.45% holds in the first round, whereas Bucharest had 74.14%.  Bearing in mind that Bucharest had several matches with few breaks, it would appear that both ATP tournaments are playing slow-medium this week.

 

Thursday Previews:-

 

There’s no rest for the wicked as there’s a further 26 matches today, with the majority of them shown live on Betfair today, so liquidity should be good.  Having said that, I see there are only three in Barcelona, so they’re still embracing technology slowly there!  

 

Because of the huge workload, there’ll be plenty of write-ups today but I’ll focus on the streamed matches as usual and probably try and be fairly concise with my thoughts.  

 

There are two matches at 11am this morning, with Lucic taking on the 1.11 favourite Li in Stuttgart.  I really like a lay-to-back of Li here - Lucic has qualified and was very impressive in her 6-0, 6-4 demolition of Vesnina in the last round.  She will be much more used to the surface than Li, who hasn’t played for more than a month, and has not played a clay court match this season.  Not only that, Li is a notorious slow starter.  However, I’d then consider backing Li if she loses the first set - she has a good record when losing.  On the flip side, if Lucic looks reasonably competitive, I’d also consider a very cheap lay of Li too if she took the first set.  I don’t rate Li in final sets so this could be another cheap entry point.

 

Also, at 11am, in Bucharest, an intriguing clash between Goffin and Florian Mayer is on the schedule.  Both players can be frustratingly brilliant or frustratingly terrible, so we could see swings here.  Mayer starts marginal 1.86 favourite.  I like the option of laying the player that breaks first in the first set here.  My main other entry point will probably be the final set, where Goffin has an incredible record.

 

In Stuttgart we have another match at 12 midday UK time with Shvedova facing Suarez Navarro, who starts at 1.63. Both had great underdog wins against more illustrious opponents yesterday.  Both players should have their serve highly exposed in normal conditions, but these quick courts may help them.  My main entry point will probably be in a deciding set.  I really like to oppose Shvedova, who is 2-12 in these in the last year, in these situations.

 

Also at 12 in MarrakechKanepi, who is still making her way back to fitness, takes on Minella.  Kanepi is 1.21 to begin.  There aren’t many entry points I like here apart from taking bigger on Kanepi if she falls a break down in the first set, and greening if she breaks back.

 

In Barcelona, the first streamed match at around 12:30pm UK time is the all-Spanish clash between Almagro and Granollers.  Almagro starts at 1.2, and with his fitness concerns, I believe that is a good lay-to-back opportunity.  Granollers is a more than capable opponent.  It’s worth noting that Granollers also has an excellent record when up a set, so taking a bigger price on Almagro when losing may not be a good idea.  Granollers also has a great deciding set record.

 

The other streamed matches there are Paire v Nadal, which will likely be a procession for the Spaniard, after 4 days rest from Monte Carlo, and a match that interests me much more, Robredo taking on Berdych.  Berdych starts 1.4 favourite and I feel that’s vulnerable.  He has not played well lately and Robredo definitely has, winning in Casablanca.  Furthermore, their stats aren’t that far apart on clay.  Both players should cruise when taking first sets, and Robredo has marginally the better deciding set record.  I’m looking to lay Berdych if he breaks first in the first set.

 

In Bucharest, the other streamed matches start at around 1pm, with Youzhny taking on Hanescu, who is in his home country.  I think I quite like the 1.74 on Youzhny here.   He gave Djokovic a great game on clay in Monte Carlo, and Hanescu is no great shakes at all at this level.  I’d look to lay the Romanian if he takes an early break chance in the first set.  

 

Tipsarevic and Giraldo should feature more service holds.  I’m looking to get on the inconsistent Serb if he goes a set down.  Giraldo has an appalling 3rd set record so I hope to be able to oppose him in that scenario too.

 

Back to Marrakech now, and I’m interested in how the poor serving Putintseva fares against the streaky Mladenovic, who starts as 1.77 favourite but complained about fatigue after her last match against Cadantu.  I’ll look to lay Mladenovic at a shorter price, if she takes the first set, and perhaps in a decider too.  

 

I’m also looking to side with Bertens, who impresses me greatly, against Pennetta.  Especially in a deciding set.  I’ll also look to trade some Pennetta service games as her serve was far from impressive in the second set against Czink yesterday.

 

In Stuttgart later on, I do like the look of opposing Ivanovic in latter stages against Petrova.  If Ivanovic, who starts around 1.5, takes the first set, I will oppose her and look to do the same in any deciding set.  This line would also be good, I feel, for laying Goerges against Kvitova.  I’m looking to take the hopefully bigger prices on the Czech top 10 player later on in the match.

 

I also feel that laying the first set winner of Jankovic and Lisicki could be profitable.  Both have good records when losing, but terrible when winning.  Lisicki does not have a good final set record at all, as well.  

 

That’s about it for today, I hope you enjoyed reading and there’ll be more tomorrow.

 

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013.

 

After the 35 matches yesterday, a mere 25 today!  Just the 4 hours preparation time this morning needed...

 

Again, I’m only going to concentrate on the streamed matches today, as they have better liquidity and because of the sheer workload.  There’s 15 of them, so it’s not like we are in short supply there...That does mean no Barcelona again, but normal service there will be resumed tomorrow with the matches there being shown on Sky Sports.

 

Stuttgart get us started at 11am UK time, with a good amount of matches played there today, as the tournament starts to really get going.  There should be some nice opportunities on the WTA side of things today, both there and Marrakech.  It’s worth noting, as I said in my previews, that the surface in Stuttgart last year (and generally in the past) played very quickly and hence were fewer breaks of serve than in an average WTA match on clay.  All matches are streamed there today.

 

The all-Russian clash between Pavlyuchenkova and Makarova starts us off there.  Last weekend they were on the same side in the Fed Cup match against Slovakia, and now they are on opposite sides of the court.  The bookmakers feel this will be very tight, with Makarova starting at about 1.94 favourite.  I think I prefer the evens about Pavlyuchenkova, who has much better clay return of serve stats to her compatriot (34% to 22% in the last year).  Also, perhaps crucially in a probably tight match, she has much the better deciding set record.  Both players have reasonable serving stats, although Pavlyuchenkova’s serve is probably more inconsistent.  I wouldn’t expect many breaks in this match.

 

Makarova is someone I’ve had down as showing less fight than needed a set down, but she is solid a set up, so I wouldn’t look to lay the winner of the first set in this match-up.  I would definitely, as mentioned, side with Pavlyuchenkova in a decider.  

 

The second match at around 11am in Stuttgart is between Suarez Navarro and former world number one, Wozniacki, who starts as a 1.47 favourite.  I think I quite like opposing the Dane here, as Suarez Navarro is very at home on the clay, winning 64% of her matches on the surface as opposed to Wozniacki’s 55%.  Furthermore, in the Spaniard’s 22 matches on the surface in the last year, she has broken serve an incredible 52.9%, so opposing Wozniacki’s serve would appear the way to go here.  In fact, I feel this match will feature many breaks, and hopefully, swings.  Both players could struggle to hold.

 

This match also interests me as both players have a better relative record a set down than their opponent does a set up.  So I’ll be looking to lay either first set winner, particularly if Wozniacki takes the first.  This should be cheap at 1.1x, and is exactly the type of low-risk, high-reward proposition we are looking for.  Suarez Navarro actually shades the deciding set records too, so that could be another opportunity to get a lay in on Wozniacki.  I don’t think this will be easy for her at all.

 

At just before 1, the next set of matches begin, with Barthel facing Safarova, and Shvedova taking on Vinci.

 

Barthel v Safarova should be a matchup between two strong servers, and I think I like Safarova’s price here, at around 2.8.  This match should be close, and she has better clay stats in the last 12 months, when looking at her win percentage and service holds.  Barthel breaks 4% more, though.  But with Safarova pushing a better opponent, Vinci, to 3 sets in the Fed Cup at the weekend, I think this price appeals slightly.

 

I think that in this match, it’s key for to win the first set.  Both women have a poor record a set down, and I’m not a fan of Barthel’s deciding set record at all.  I’d look to oppose her here too.  

 

In the other match, the out of form Kazakh, Shvedova, actually had a reasonable record on clay last year, although whether it’s enough to trouble the heavy favourite, Vinci, I’m not too sure.  Since I criticised her record on clay, the Italian has been determined to show me different, and won both Katowice and her two Fed Cup matches since!  At 1.29, however, I can’t help feeling this could be a lay against an opponent who can trouble top level players when her game is on.

 

Both players should fancy their chances of making a comeback if they drop the first set.  In the last year, Shvedova has the worst record I’ve seen in the WTA, winning only 64% (18-10) of her matches when she takes the first set.  However, her record when losing isn’t bad at all.  I must oppose her in a deciding set though - she is 2-12 in deciders in the last year!  That’s just truly awful.

 

At around 2, Kvitova plays the promising young German, Beck.  The Czech world number 8 starts at around 1.25, and whilst it’s fair to say that this time last year you’d get sub 1.10 on her in a match like this, she has been out of form lately, and that must be taken into account.  

 

Beck, however, does have a weak serve that should be exposed by the power of Kvitova.  In her match in Katowice against Camerin, who definitely does not come into the ‘power hitter’ category, she was repeatedly in trouble in her service games in the first set.  So if Kvitova does start slowly and falls behind, I may be tempted to back her.

Beck does really excel from losing positions.  We saw it when she turned round a 1-5 first set deficit in Poland, and she also impresses when a set down, although many of her matches in her record were on the lower ITF tour.  She’s not the best when up a set, however, so it should be the case that laying either first set winner may create a decent opportunity.  Both players deciding set records are nothing fantastic, although Kvitova marginally shades them.

 

There are three further evening matches in Germany, with the first two starting at 5pm UK time.

 

In the first, Goerges, who has had success at this venue in the past, but is ridiculously out of form, meets the Belgian Flipkens, who I’ve been very impressed with for a while.  Goerges’ inconsistent game will almost certainly be on view again, and I’m looking to oppose her from winning positions today.  Flipkens starts as 1.90 favourite, which is a price I like considering Goerges’ poor form and health concerns.

 

Her record when a set up is far from impressive, and she repeatedly appears to switch off for large chunks of matches, often when in front.  Flipkens, on the other hand, has a superb record (possibly only bettered by Serena Williams on the WTA Tour) when a set down, winning an incredible 59% of matches (13-9) in the last year when losing the first set.  Flipkens’ deciding set record is also much better than her opponent, so there’s definitely a few decent entry points we can consider here.

 

At the same time, the improving Mattek-Sands takes on another recent disappointment, WIckmayer.

 

Mattek-Sands, who had to get through qualifying to be here today, starts as 1.7 favourite having been as big as 1.9 yesterday.  I’m not Wickmayer’s biggest fan after she’s cost me money in the past on more than several occasions, so I won’t be looking to accept the odds against price on her!  I think this will be fairly close though - both women have projected serve hold percentages around the 70% mark, and with quick conditions, there may not be many breaks here.  

 

Both players have very poor records when a set down, so I can’t see myself laying the first set winner.  Furthermore, both also have a poor record in deciding sets, although Wickmayer’s record is not quite as bad.

 

Finally in Germany, we have another match which the oddsmakers feel will be close, with Stosur facing Jankovic, who was favourite at 1.78 yesterday, and now it’s just a shade under evens the pair.  

 

To be honest, I’m not surprised this price has changed.  I couldn’t have Jankovic as favourite against a good top 10 opponent with a better surface win percentage in the past year.  The quick surface should suit Stosur, who has an excellent serve.  She’s won 81% of service games in 17 clay matches in the last 12 months.  These two aren’t the strongest mentally in my opinion, though, so we could expect all sorts of swings in this.

 

I’m definitely looking to lay Jankovic should she take the first set.  Her record when leading is pretty poor for anyone, let alone a top 20 (and previously a lot higher) player.  Both players have poor deciding set records, but Stosur’s is particularly poor.  I feel she gets tight and lets nerves get the better of her in those situations, winning a mere 9 of 21 in the last year.  She’s lost a deciding set as favourite 8 times in that timeframe, against Zheng (twice), Errani (twice), Goerges, and that record also includes three losses, priced 1.13 or below three times, against Kai-Chen Chang, Rus (!) and Suarez Navarro.   I will lay Stosur small in a deciding set, and will probably wade in again if she gets in front and I can lay at a much lower price.

 

In Marrakech, we start at 12 mid-day UK time with Hantuchova against Puchkova, and Putintseva versus Johansson.

 

Hantuchova starts as 1.35 favourite in the first match, and even against a limited opponent like Puchkova, I’ve seen too many horror shows from her in the last year to be remotely interested in that price.  It’s also worth mentioning that Hantuchova may not be at all accustomed to the surface, having missed the whole clay court season in 2012, but equally worth considering that Puchkova’s clay record is not great either, with her best 2012 result being a quarter final appearance on the ITF tour in Moscow, where she beat WR 493 and 672, and lost to WR 325.  Hardly impressive stuff from her either!

 

I think there could be breaks in this as Puchkova has a very weak serve, and Hantuchova is just generally inconsistent.  I’ll definitely take out a small lay of Hantuchova if she wins the first set at 1.1x.  How can I not when she’s only won 35% of her matches in the last year?  Furthermore, Puchkova’s record (although mainly in ITF matches) is great when a set down.  I can’t say the same for Hantuchova in that spot - winning only 4 of 28 matches (14%) when her opponent takes the first set.  Both players have decent deciding set records.  I’ll probably lay the player that breaks first in a deciding set.

 

Putintseva’s match with Johansson is another match I feel could be topsy-turvy.  Johansson starts as 1.73 favourite, but I can’t help feeling bigger may be available at a few points in play.  I’m torn here because Johansson’s projected service hold percentage is a fair bit higher than Putintseva’s (58% to 44%), but Putintseva’s in-play stats are considerably better.

 

I think I’ll probably just look to oppose Johansson should she take the first set.  That’s mandatory against almost all opponents when she’s only won 71% in the last year from a winning position.  Putintseva has a fantastic record in deciding sets (68% last 12 months and 71% career) so considering Johansson’s poor record in deciders I’ll look to side with the Kazakh there.

 

At around 1:30pm there’s only the one streamed match, with Schiavone taking Martic in an interesting clash, with the Italian veteran starting at an uneasy 1.81 favourite.  Both players should be able to hold serve more often than most players here today, with projected holds both around the 74% mark.  Because of this I wouldn’t look to trade service games, but I would consider looking at laying the player that takes the first set...

 

When leading, Schiavone has an atrocious record of winning a mere 64% in the last year (14-8), and not only that, her record when a set up as a favourite is a below average 81% (13-3).  However, her record when a set down as favourite is excellent.  She is 5-7 in the last year from that scenario, and with her also being above average at all prices too, I will look to oppose Martic when a set up.

 

Both players are marginally above average in deciding sets.

 

At around 3pm UK time, Pennetta starts as 1.38 favourite against Czink, in another game where I feel there may be a touch fewer breaks than average.  I’ll be looking to oppose either player who takes the first set as both have poor records when leading, and Czink has an impressive record when dropping a set.  However, her deciding set record is poor so I’d have to side with the Italian in any decider.

 

The final match in Morocco is the match between Knapp and Cornet, who starts as a slight 1.81 favourite.  I’d say that was about right pre-match, although I feel you’ll be able to get a good bit bigger at some points in play.  I expect there to be breaks and swings in this one.  Both ladies have weak serves.

 

Both players have great records a set and average ones a set up, so I’ll look to oppose either player that takes the first set.  Whilst Cornet’s deciding set record is far from bad, Knapp’s is superb - 54% against much better opponents and she is 7-2 in her career in deciding sets when priced between 2.00 and 2.99 prematch.

 

There’s another four matches in Bucharest and with time running out before the first one starts at 12:30 I’ll get some quick thoughts on them down.

Seppi starts at around 1.44 against Rosol and I think that will go higher.  I quite like this as a lay-to-back as Seppi imploded last week against Fognini and Rosol is a more than capable opponent.  I’m definitely looking to lay Seppi if he takes the first set, although it’s worth noting Seppi has a better deciding set record.

 

Who knows which Troicki will turn up against Kamke?  The one that surrendered so meekly against Nieminen, or the one that impressed against Matosevic?  The 1.69 odds on him do appear to be a little generous, but anyone who has backed Troicki previously knows that seemingly generous prices can quickly turn to much higher when his game is off!  Kamke looks to have improved a little lately so perhaps his win over Del Potro gave him some new confidence.  My considered opinion of this is that 1.69 is probably about right but I’ll look to try and profit from some breaks of serve as these two should have a few issues holding.

 

Simon has won three out of the last six tournaments here and is 1.87 against the in-form Nieminen.  Yesterday Nieminen didn’t look at all interested against Donskoy in the first set before just about turning it around.  He seems to want to make me lose money if the last two weeks are anything to go by.  I don’t particularly rate the Frenchman currently but this appears to be a fairly generous price on him.  I wouldn’t oppose the first set winner but I would look to back Nieminen, with his stellar record, in a decider.

 

Finally, I quite fancy the 2.5 or so available on Brands to beat Monfils.  I’ll definitely look to get on the German in-play.  He has an excellent record a set down, and particularly in deciding sets.  Several decent entry points there.

 

That’s it for today, I hope you enjoyed reading and good luck with what you bet or trade on today.  There’ll be more tomorrow.

 

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013.

 

What a day we have in store today.  Action across all four tournaments with 35 matches scheduled for today.  It’s quite apt I say the word scheduled, because I’m getting more and more frustrated with the tardiness that tournaments supply in abundance.  How difficult is it to get an order of play updated in good time?  Instead of which, last night I ended up preparing for matches mostly being played tomorrow...

 

With so many matches to consider, I’ll just be focusing my previewing efforts on the streamed matches with better liquidity today.  That means I’ll be ignoring Barcelona, who are still two days away from moving into the 21st Century.

 

Most matches in Bucharest are streamed though, with the early 10am match being between Nieminen, who impressed in Monte Carlo last week, and Donskoy, who is still making the adjustment after moving up from the Challenger Tour.

 

Nieminen, after last week’s exploits, starts at 1.25.  Whilst I expect him to win I do feel that’s quite short.  Donskoy gave Murray a good match recently, taking a set off him, and although that was on Hard Court, it does show he is no mug.  What worries me is that he clearly doesn’t like clay because he’s only played 4 matches across ATP and Challenger tours on the surface in the last year.  However, we’ve seen from Nieminen before that he can put in a poor performance after a long run of matches and because of this I wouldn’t touch the 1.25 on offer.

 

Both players have a decent record a set up, and a poor record a set down so I wouldn’t expect any turnarounds.  If it does make it to a third set, I’d back the Finn unless he is visibly tired because Donksoy does not thrive in third sets, based on his record.  

 

Directly after this match, we have a match where I expect many breaks, as Cipolla faces Florian Mayer.

 

Mayer starts 1.33 favourite, and based on his highly inconsistent level which has again been exhibited in the last few weeks, I can’t encourage any backing of that.  Indeed, their win percentage on clay is almost the same in the last 12 months (43% and 44%), and whilst Mayer holds serve a little more (72% to 64%), Cipolla breaks more (34% to 28%).  All those stats point to there being breaks and swings in this match.  A lay to back of Mayer pre-match may prove worthwhile.  Certainly, if Mayer breaks first, a lay of 1.1x would surely be a low-risk, high reward proposition.

 

As with the Nieminen match, both players have a much better record a set up than a set down, although Mayer seems determined to prove me wrong since I mentioned he had a terrible record in that spot!  Both players have decent records in deciding sets, although it’s the Italian that marginally shades it.

 

Also, Muller v Rosol is streamed this morning although with both being decent servers, and in the case of Muller, poor returners, I wouldn’t expect many breaks or huge swings in that match.

 

I’m not interested in the early match streamed in Marrakech with Qostal playing Knapp.  I know nothing about Qostal and have no stats on her, so I won’t be getting involved.  Furthermore, the second streamed match features another Moroccan likely to be comfortably defeated, as El Allami faces Cornet.  

 

Minella against Cabeza Candela appears to be a match with better prospects.  The Spanish Qualifier starts as 1.55 favourite, and I’d say that’s fair.  She will be more accustomed to the conditions having qualified (Minella complained how quick they were yesterday) and her return stats are a fair bit superior to Minella’s.  Furthermore, at 54%, she has a slightly higher projected hold than Minella’s 48%.  As you may be able to tell from those stats, I expect breaks here today!  I’ll look to lay either player a break up in the first set, and if Cabeza Candela takes the first, I’ll lay her a set and break up too.  Cabeza Candela has a good record a set down, so a lay of Minella, probably at odds of 1.5 or so, could be worthwhile if she takes the first set.  Minella shades the deciding set records.

 

The final streamed match in Morocco features Kanepi and Medina Garrigues.  Kanepi is still working her way to full fitness after a long lay off but starts 1.56 favourite.  Her record on clay is very good, 13-4 in the last year, and also she’s broken serve 49.7% of the time in those matches too.  Therefore I’d expect Medina Garrigues’ serve to come under pressure if Kanepi is anywhere near close to her best.  

 

If Kanepi has a bad start but looks competitive and fit, I’ll be looking to get on her in play.  Garrigues has a very poor record a set up, and whilst Kanepi’s a set down isn’t the best either, it’s ‘less bad’.  Kanepi also has a far superior deciding set record, with Garrigues only 37% in the last 12 months in that scenario.  

 

There are only the four matches in Stuttgart today, but all are streamed.

 

Vesnina starts as 1.48 favourite against Lucic, and that would appear generous if Vesnina was fully fit.  I worry about her being a little rusty as she hasn’t played a competitive match for a month since losing to Sharapova in Miami.  As Lucic has a projected hold percentage of 51%, I’d expect her serve to be exposed here.  I’d lay her if she went a break up in the first set, for sure.

 

The Russian is also dominant when comparing the in-play scenarios.  She is 96% when won the first set in the last year, has a positive record a set down, and the better of two good deciding set records as well.  Some reasonable entry points there.  

 

The German Qualifer Pfizenmaier is next up, against another Russian, Petrova.  The experienced Petrova is 1.22 favourite here.  I’d expect this to be a little closer than the odds suggest, with Pfizenmaier, despite her inexperience, being acclimatised to the surface after qualifying.  I wouldn’t expect a ton of breaks here.  With Petrova having an excellent record a set down (32%) I might consider laying Pfizenmaier if she did take the first set.  The deciding records are both good, although obviously Petrova’s are against a higher calibre of opponent.  

 

Two matches I’m looking forward to are in the evening in Germany.

 

In the first, Ivanovic faces Petkovic, with Ivanovic starting at 1.48.  Ivanovic has impressed me more this season than she did last, when I considered her an excellent opportunity to lay at short prices.  Petkovic still isn’t near the level she was before her injuries.  With both players breaking a touch over 50% on clay in the last year, we can expect breaks and swings here.  I’ll look to lay either player a set down in the first set, especially Ivanovic.  

Petkovic doesn’t have a good record at all a set down so I wouldn’t look to lay Ivanovic if she took the first.  It’s much more equal, though, if the German takes the first.  If Petkovic got a set and break up, I’d lay her.  Both players have terrible deciding set records for players of their ability, but Ivanovic’s is especially horrific.  Possibly a good match for the neutral.

 

The final match at Stuttgart is Lisicki facing Burnett.  I was surprised and disappointed to see Burnett get past Muguruza yesterday in qualifying, as I was looking forward to the talented young Spanish girl facing Lisicki, who I’ve had down as a very vulnerable player for a while now.

 

You can definitely say Lisicki isn’t consistent.  She starts as 1.4 favourite against a player who theoretically should be a good level below her, in quality and experience.  But this isn’t a price that excites me for a player whose level can fluctuate at any time.  I’d also expect many breaks here.  My preferred entry point is if Lisicki can take the first set.  Her record is even worse than her German countrywoman Goerges in this situation, winning only two-thirds of matches where she takes the first set.  Considering she will be almost certainly 1.1x after winning a first set, this appears a great high reward situation with little risk.

 

I would also take a chance and back Lisicki for small stakes if Burnett took the first.  Lisicki, like quite a few women players currently, appear to play better when losing than winning.  Lisicki is only 41% in a deciding set in the last 12 months, so although Burnett’s record isn’t great either, I’d look to oppose Lisicki in a final set.  

 

As always, good luck with what you decide to bet or trade on, and there will be more tomorrow.

 

Monday, April 22nd, 2013.

 

Tournament previews and statistics, written last night, can be found below, on Sunday’s entry.

 

The action begins at 10am UK time in Barcelona, although 21st Century technology clearly hasn’t reached Spain yet as no matches are going to be streamed until Thursday.   I cannot understand this.  If backwater Challengers can manage this, how can an ATP 500 event not?  

 

We start with Sijsling facing Andrey Kuznetsov, and Bedene playing Dodig.  

 

Bedene is one of a few pre-match bets I like, with Dodig being very poor on clay and it being Bedene’s natural surface.  His record over the last 12 months is far better (4-6 compared to 3-9), and Dodig didn’t compete at all against Paire, who is probably not much of a higher level than Bedene, last week.  Bedene’s serving stats are far better as well (75% to 63% holds), whilst their return stats are almost the same.  At 1.66, I really like the price on the Slovenian.

 

Also, Dodig has a horrific 2-24 (8%) record when a set down, so we can’t expect him to muster any unlikely comeback.  Bedene is solid a set up, and also impresses when a set down, so I’d look to lay Dodig if he took the first set.  With both players being poor servers (especially Dodig) we can look at laying either player when they are a break up in the first set as well.  Deciding set records are very similar, so we could look at laying the player a break up in the final set as well.  I particularly like this if Dodig goes in front.

 

I’d also expect a few breaks in the Sijsling v Kuznetsov match.  Both players have poor average service hold percentages on clay, 69% and 72% respectively.  Having said that, I do worry about Kuznetsov’s ability to break, so I’d be cautious about him breaking the Dutchman.  Kuznetsov starts as favourite on what is his favourite surface, at around 1.63.  Whilst Sijsling doesn’t appear to be too well suited for clay, Kuznetsov hasn’t pulled up many trees at ATP level.

 

Until the deciding set, there isn’t a great deal to choose between the two players in-play.  Sijsling has a much better deciding set record, winning 63% of deciders in the last year compared to Kuznetsov’s 53%.  It’s also worth mentioning that Sijsling has probably played against a higher level of opponents in these overall.

 

There is also an early re-scheduled televised Fed Cup match at 10am between Vinci and Safarova.  The Italians lead 2-1 so Safarova needs to win to take it to the deciding doubles match.  I rate Safarova as better on clay than other surfaces, but Vinci has been in excellent form.  Vinci starts at 1.30 favourite, and I think that’s a slightly vulnerable short price.  Safarova has a very strong serve and I can see her keeping this close.  Odds range from 1.72 to 2.26 depending on if you look at the 5.5 and 4.5 game handicap.  The only thing that puts me off this is Safarova’s awful record a set down.  Whilst she wouldn’t necessarily need to win a set to cover the game handicap, it’s worrying that she may tail off if she loses the first set.  Looking in play, she does have the better record in deciding sets.

 

Two of the matches in Bucharest are streamed, and all three in Marrakech are, so I’ll focus on those.

 

Both of the matches in Bucharest are those that I mentioned in my preview as liking the price on one of the players.  

 

Goffin takes on Ungur, who is 1-12 on the ATP tour in the last year.  Ungur will enjoy home support, but how far that will get him I don’t know.  Many people seem to think that playing in your home country makes players invincible, and I don’t know what makes them think that.  Evidence is actually to the contrary.  I’m beginning to think a lot of tipsters and journalists just don’t bother with research.  Goffin starts at around 1.6 and I think that’s a decent price.  I don’t particularly rate him right now as his career hasn’t kicked on since his great start to the ATP tour where he was touted as one of the brightest prospects by many.  However, he should be much too strong for a player who has only held serve 74% of the time in the last 12 months on clay and broken a mere 11%.  Goffin doesn’t have the best serve but should be able to get a few breaks of his own.

 

I’m looking to lay Ungur if he gets a break up in the first set, for a start.  I’ll also lay him if he gets a set and break up.  Ungur’s record when a set down is terrible.  He is 1-23 in the last year (4%) when losing the first set, and many of those will also have been against weaker opponents on the Challenger Tour. So if Goffin takes the first, I can see this being straightforward.  In one of the biggest edges I’ve seen for a while, I’ll also side with Goffin in a deciding set.  Ungur has won 27% of deciding sets in the last year, with Goffin taking 80% of his against better players.  In the last year he has beaten Troicki twice, Kohlschreiber and Isner, as underdog in deciding sets.  Considering you’ll almost certainly get starting price or better in a decider, the Belgian has to be a superb bet if it reaches a third set.

 

The other match features the flaky Troicki against Matosevic, who despite his lack of liking for clay acquitted himself very reasonably in Monte Carlo last week.  After Troicki’s display against Nieminen, I expected Matosevic to be slight favourite so I was pleasantly surprised to see him odds against.

Both players will get broken in this so I’d definitely lay the player that breaks first.  Neither seem consistent enough to hold serve on a regular basis, and the stats back that up too.  I’m looking to side with the Australian in play.  When he takes the first set, his record is very good (30-3 in the last 12 months) and with Troicki’s record a set down nowhere near as impressive (5-25) I can only classify a Troicki comeback as extremely unlikely.  However, I like Matosevic’s fight, and he has an above average record a set down and in deciders, so if Troicki takes the first set, we can get a cheap lay in at around 1.25 and this could prove lucrative.  It’s worth mentioning that Matosevic is 16-5 in deciding sets in the last year, and with Troicki having a negative record, this would appear to be another entry point.

 

In Marrakech, the favourite of most male viewers, Rus, who is way out of form, takes on Torro-Flor in the first match at around 1pm UK time.  I can see there being more breaks of serve than holds, as both women have an abysmal service hold percentage but appear much more comfortable on return.  My model has generated the extremely unlikely scenario of both players service holds being under 50%, at 48.7% and 46.0% respectively.  Despite Rus’ on court woes, I cannot see any value on Torro-Flor as she is a fairly short favourite at 1.36.  Whilst Rus has not played at a good level for a while now, Torro-Flor is only 3-10 herself in WTA main draw matches in the last year.  This may be the sort of opponent Rus needs to get some form back.

 

What I am looking to do is to side with the Portuguese if she falls behind.  I’m definitely laying either player that breaks first, and also I’ll lay Rus if she wins the first set.  Torro-Flor has a good ITF record when a set down.  With Rus not having won a match for over a year from being a set down, I think I’ll pass on laying Torro-Flor if she’s a set up.  Interestingly, Rus shades the deciding set record.  This could be a good match to trade.  

The next match features Minella and Pironkova, who must be looking forward to the grass season starting.  Pironkova, after starting as marginal underdog, has been backed into 1.79 at the time of writing.  This doesn’t surprise me that much because her service stats are far superior to Minella, who shades the stats on return.  However, if Pironkova can take the first set, I’ll definitely lay her.  She is 12-6 in the last year when up a set, which is a terrible record, although she may have been unlucky with the high level of her opponents in these matches.  Minella has a much better deciding set record (67% to 43%) so I’ll definitely look to side with her in a deciding set.

 

The final match in Morocco is between Scheepers and in-play favourite Cirstea.  Knowledgeable traders like Cirstea for her ability to come back after a slow start.  She starts as 1.34 favourite here, with Scheepers having been out of form for a while.  The basic clay stats indicate this may be a closer encounter than that, so perhaps Cirstea is a prime candidate for a lay-to-back trade.  As I mentioned, she often starts slowly.  

 

I do expect the Romanian to prevail eventually though.  If she does take the first set, she has a solid record and I wouldn’t oppose her at that point.  I’ll definitely lay Scheepers if she takes the first.  The respect I have for Cirstea’s ability to turn around losing positions, coupled with the poor form and poor record a set up for Scheepers means this has to be the way to go.  Cirstea also has a decent advantage in deciding sets.  

 

I hope you enjoyed reading the site today, and as always, good luck with what you decide to trade or bet on.  There’ll be more tomorrow.

 

Sunday, April 21st, 2013.

 

Preview of the tournaments starting Monday, April 22nd, 2013.

 

There’s going to be an awful lot of opportunities for trading in the next week, with four tournaments on the agenda.  All are on clay, which is standard for this time of year.  

 

The ATP tour takes us to Barcelona and Bucharest - the Barcelona tournament is the more prestigious, being a 500 tournament as opposed to Bucharest being a 250 event.  The WTA’s tournaments are the Stuttgart Premier Level tournament, and the lower International Level tournament in Marrakech.

 

I’ve assessed most of the first round matches in the tournaments, and I’ve completely finalised my views on Monday’s matches.  It’s highly vital that traders are organised when there are a high volume of matches.  

 

Barcelona is the biggest tournament numerically, with 48 participants.  Last year the average service hold for the tournament was 77.4%, slightly higher than the ATP average of 75.3% for clay.  When we consider every year of the tournament the mean is 74.8%.  In Bucharest, the service hold percentage last year was 74%, with the lifetime average being 72.8%.  So we can assume from this that there’s going to be marginally more breaks in Romania than Spain, in the men’s tournaments this week.

 

Nadal has been almost as dominant in Barcelona as he has in Monte Carlo, winning seven out of the last eight tournaments.  He probably will be tired after his exploits in Monaco, but he looks to have a fairly straightforward route to the final again, with only Raonic and Berdych possibly capable of springing a surprise in his half of the draw.  Ferrer is the top seed in the tournament and would appear to be Nadal’s likely final opponent, in an all Spanish affair.  Another Spaniard, Almagro, would appear to be his toughest potential opponent in the draw up until the final.  

 

Simon beat Fognini in last years final in Bucharest, and both players feature again this year.  Simon isn’t in the best of form and had a very poor defeat by Bautista-Agut in Monte Carlo last week.  Fognini had a superb run to the semi-finals and may be slightly tired after an epic week.  It’s worth noting that Simon has won three of the last six titles, and with him not being a serial title winner, he would appear to be very comfortable with conditions and enjoy playing here.  Andujar, who rediscovered a little form in Monte Carlo, has been runner up in two of the last three finals.  

 

As for the women, the higher ranked players are mostly in Germany, where conditions last year meant that there was a much higher percentage of service holds than average.  The current WTA 12 month average for clay is 61%, however in Stuttgart last year the mean was 73.9%, which is only a shade lower than ATP Bucharest!  The lifetime average of the tournament is 69%, which is still very high.  In Morocco, we’d generally expect more breaks anyway due to the level of player but as this is a new tournament we cannot be sure how conditions will be until we see some matches.  

In Stuttgart last year, Sharapova beat Azarenka in the Final.  Azarenka isn’t participating this week, whilst Sharapova will be looking to have another good showing.  Goerges likes this tournament but is in a highly disappointing run of form, and appears to mentally switch off for long periods of matches.  She hasn’t played since she retired against Craybas in Katowice.

 

The earliest action kicks off at 10am UK time in Barcelona, with most of today’s matches being played there.  Also, there are three matches in Bucharest on Monday, and three main draw matches in Marrakech as well.  Stuttgart main draw starts on Tuesday.  It’s just qualifiers and doubles there on Monday.

 

Some early pre-match bets I like are:-

 

ATP Barcelona:-

 

Bedene to beat Dodig @ 1.66.

Zemlja to beat Andujar @ 2.60.

A very small stake on the promising youngster Carballes Baena to beat Davydenko at around 10.15.

 

ATP Bucharest:-

Goffin to beat Ungur @ 1.67.

Matosevic to beat Troicki @ 2.23.

I’m also very interested in the opening prices on offer for Karolina Pliskova to beat Cibulkova in Marrakech.  Cibulkova faces a 15 hour journey from Moscow to play in this tournament, and with it being a low-level tournament, her motivation may not be the highest.

 

I’ll post more previews on Monday at around 9:30am.

 

Sunday, April 21st, 2013.

 

It’s the final of Monte Carlo today, and it’s one that most would have predicted at the start of the week with the undeniable clay court number 1Nadal facing world number 1 Djokovic, at 1pm today UK time.

 

Both players were straight set winners yesterday, with the injured Djokovic going through in particular ease against the flavour of the week Fognini.  Currently Nadal is around the 1.46 favourite, and with him trading above 1.5 on Betfair yesterday I feel there was definitely some value on the Spaniard at around 1.54.  Djokovic has done well even just to be here this week and it’s worth noting that in this meeting last year, he lost 6-3 6-1 to Nadal (although he had to deal with the death of his Grandfather) at much closer starting prices (Nadal was 1.74 favourite).  In fact, Nadal has won their last three clay court meetings (the finals of Monte Carlo 2012, Rome 2012 and French Open 2012) and has only dropped one set in the process.  So fans of an upset here, I would say, will probably be disappointed.  I cannot see past Nadal, who has this tournament as his NAP every year when assessing which tournaments he will do well in.

 

I can see there being many breaks today, though.  So with Nadal starting low, a lay of him a break up may be a low risk proposition.  In the three meetings on clay last year, despite dropping just the one set, he only held serve 76% of the time, which is bang on the ATP average for clay.  The stats don’t look so good for the Serb, though.  He only held an abysmal 54% of the time.  My recent research has shown he’s incredibly un-clutch on the clay, so this doesn’t surprise me that much.  Again, in the three encounters, Djokovic has an appalling break point save percentage when compared to the overall points won on his serve.  

 

With both players being fighters, and with excellent records a set down, a small lay of either a set down may prove to be another entry point with slight positive expectation.  Djokovic has a far superior deciding set record but I’d give this less credence than usual as his ankle will no doubt be severely tested during this match.  

 

Whatever happens, this should be an excellent spectacle and a match that I’m sure all tennis fans and traders are looking forward to.  

 

I’ll update the website later with a review of the week’s trading, and with a preview of the four tournaments next week.  With four tournaments scheduled, we are going to have a lot of opportunities!  I’ll probably spend most of this afternoon and evening preparing for them.

 

As always, good luck with what you decide to trade on, and check back later this evening for more updates.

 

Saturday, April 20th, 2013.

 

Yesterday was a little more interesting than I thought.  

 

Fognini and Gasquet traded several breaks at the start of the 3rd set, with Dimitrov pushing Nadal much more than almost anyone thought he would.  I can’t claim to have had a miracle answer to this, as I wasn’t too bothered about it, thinking it would have been a procession, although perhaps if I had remembered Dimitrov has a great 3rd set record maybe some profit could have occured.  If I recall correctly, Nadal was around 1.14 at the start of the 3rd set, and at 4-4 he was around 1.5x, without any breaks.  Djokovic took care of Nieminen without too many issues.

 

We are now into the semi-finals in Monte Carlo, with Nadal facing Tsonga in the opening game of the day.   For the first time in the week, Nadal starts at over 1.05!  He is 1.11 for this.  My projected holds model give Nadal an 86% service hold percentage, with Tsonga 61%.  The only way Nadal will really become a significantly bigger price will be if he drops the first set or goes a set and break down or in a deciding set.  It’s worth mentioning here that Tsonga is 48-1 in matches where he has won the first set in the last 12 months.  So backing Nadal a set down may not be close to a guaranteed winner, although he may well give you a good run for your money!  I wouldn’t expect any likely comebacks if Nadal won the first set...As for deciding records, despite the deciding set victory over Wawrinka yesterday, Tsonga’s record is very mediocre.  Nadal’s is pretty average for a player of his calibre too.  Few good entry points here probably.  

 

It’s Djokovic v Fognini in the second match.  The far from fully fit Djokovic starts at 1.16.  Considering he’s never been over 1.07 in any of their 5 main draw ATP matches, of which Djokovic has won all 5 (I cannot count a qualifier in 2006 when he was ranked 67), this price illustrates how much the market is fearful of his ankle.  Fognini has had an unbelievable run this week, beating far higher ranked opposition and showing how high his level is when he is on his game (on clay).  

 

With the injury doubts, it’s really hard to recommend trades in advance without seeing the match pan out.  I do think there will be breaks in this.  Djokovic, for a top player, has a really low service hold percentage on clay and also, somewhat surprisingly, is incredibly poor on saving break points on the surface.  Fognini’s serve isn’t the best usually although it’s looked a little better this week.  If the world number 1 takes the first set, I can’t see any comeback for the Italian.  Fognini, as I’ve said all week, is also solid a set up.  Djokovic has significantly the better final set record, although you’d want to see he is moving well enough before you commit money to this.

 

The WTA also starts today with the Fed Cup but as I’m not going to be at home today I don’t have any time to do any further previews.  I’m off to Alton Towers with Mrs. Tennisratings!  I don’t tend to trade that much at weekends, preferring to reserve it for spending time with my family.  It’s important to take some time off otherwise burn out becomes a serious problem.  I’ve learnt from my poker days there.  

 

I’ll do a review of the week either today or tomorrow as well.

 

As always, good luck with what you decide to bet or trade on, and have a great weekend.

 

Friday, April 19th, 2013.

 

As I mentioned yesterday, I wouldn’t be at home to preview the Tsonga v Wawrinka match.  

 

There are three other matches today, as we reach the quarter finals in Monte Carlo.

 

After the Tsonga v Wawrinka match, Dimitrov is the next in line to play the clay master Nadal, with the Spaniard starting at 1.03.  As impressive as the Bulgarian has been this week I can’t see him troubling Nadal, as I have the predicted holds being 63% and 87% respectively.  Also Nadal is super-clutch on break points in clay, so should be able to both get himself out of trouble and take opportunities.  I probably won’t trade this.

 

Third up today is probably the match I’m most interested in, Fognini against Gasquet.  Gasquet starts at around 1.37, and I can see this being a little more swingy than the other two matches I preview today, with Fognini especially being weak on serve.  In this match I will look to lay the player that breaks first in the first set, and green up if the break back is achieved (exit point end of set).  

 

Gasquet has a great record a set down and I really rate his improved mental strength.  However, Fognini is super-solid a set up which negates that.  Gasquet is decent a set up with Fognini average a set down, so whilst it’s not clear-cut, I wouldn’t be laying the winner of the first set.  Gasquet’s superb record in deciding sets should give him an edge in any decider.  I’ll look to back him here and especially if Fognini breaks first in a decider.

 

The final match of the day is one I’ll almost certainly leave alone.  Djokovic is clearly not close to full fitness although that should still be too good for Nieminen, who has had two very arduous 3 set matches which he’s won in a deciding set tiebreak, against higher ranked opponents.  Nieminen’s record after 3 setters in the last year isn’t good at the best of times, let alone after two.  He may have fitness issues of his own today.  Djokovic is around 1.14 favourite, a lot higher than he would be assuming full fitness.

 

 

Not the best selection of matches today, I’m looking forward to Monday and the resumption of the WTA already!

 

Good luck with whatever you decide to trade or bet on today.

 

Thursday, April 18th, 2013.

 

Thursday Previews:-

 

After a mediocre day yesterday with few entry points and several underdogs romping to victory, as well as 4 players priced 1.1 or below, I’m pleased to say that action is a little bit more competitive on Thursday, with hopefully a few more opportunities.

 

I’m still getting over the Gulbis match against Monaco, with Gulbis losing a game in the final set for his third penalty.  I truly feel that if that hadn’t happened, he’d have won the match.  I wonder if he feels the same...

 

We start at 9:30 with two matches, as we have throughout the week.  

 

Berdych against Fognini is first up, with the Czech top 10 player favourite at 1.25.  Berdych was a break down in both sets before overcoming Granollers in the last round, while the Italian was always in control of his match against Ramos after he broke in the first set and Ramos then immediately lost a key point colliding with the line judge at 0-30 on Fognini’s serve.  On a side note, if Ramos had won that point I would have had a nice green, so that line judge cost me a three-figure sum.  I feel Fognini’s weak serve will be shown up here by Berdych, who has a very good 16-5 record on the dirt in the last year.  My model has Fognini’s projected hold at around 66%, with Berdych’s at 79%.  If Fognini gets a break up I will lay him and green up if Berdych can break back in the first set.  

 

Fognini will need to take the first to have a chance here.  He is extremely solid when a set up, despite the general perception that he is a volatile player.  Berdych is nothing special coming back from a losing position.  Both players are pretty average in deciding sets.  I’d probably look to lay Fognini if he broke first in a deciding set.

 

Tsonga v Melzer is at the same time, and I can’t see too many problems for the enigmatic Frenchman here, who starts at 1.26.  The veteran Melzer has had a good week but he played late today against the tired Almagro whilst Tsonga had the day off.  I’m not saying I’ll take Tsonga pre-match myself at 1.26, I prefer not to back 1/4 shots very often but if it’s your cup of tea, go for it.  Melzer does have a weak serve and I’d expect Tsonga to help himself to it tomorrow.   If Melzer can go a break up in the first set, I’ll lay him.  

 

Melzer, it must be said, despite his age and declining ranking, is a fighter.  He still shows an excellent record when a set down and in deciders.  It’s worth noting, though, that Tsonga is a stunning 45-1 (98%) when a set up in the last year.  However, for a player of his ability he has a weak deciding set record, whilst Melzer’s has been good throughout the whole of his career, and is running good in that scenario in the last 12 months as well.  It may be worth laying Tsonga in a deciding set.  

 

Dimitrov, who was so impressive in his victory over Tipsarevic on Tuesday, takes on the flaky German Florian Mayer at around 11am UK time.  Dimitrov starts at 1.37, and he’ll have no problems justifying that price if he can keep the level he showed against the Serb.  Mayer has fought through, uncharacteristically for him, being a set down twice against Balleret and Bautista-Agut.  Both times his weak serve was shown, being broken 4 times against Balleret and 4 times in the first 2 sets against Bautista-Agut.  

 

Mayer has shown a high propensity to break back himself though, so I’d lay whoever breaks first in the first set here.  This is an especially attractive entry point if it’s Mayer that breaks first.  He is 8-9 in the last year on clay, with Dimitrov a more impressive 10-5 and with much the better service stats.  

 

I still have little faith in Mayer, despite this week’s efforts, when a set down.  I’d expect it to be straightforward for Dimitrov if he takes the first.  Dimitrov, for all his ability and potential, has a bad record too at a set down, so I wouldn’t get involved the other way either.  Dimitrov does, however, have an excellent deciding set record so I’d favour him in a decider.  I’d definitely lay Mayer if he broke first in a decider.

 

The other match at 11am features Kohlschreiber, as the next lamb to the slaughter, against Nadal, who starts at 1.02.  I don’t see a shock here.  Moving on...

 

An intriguing clash at around 1pm between Gasquet and Cilic is much more interesting to me.  I’ve been impressed by both this season, especially the Frenchman, who has, for me, managed to shrug off a lot of the rumours about his mental strength this season.  He starts at around 1.6.  When you compare the two players’ win percentages on clay, there’s little in it.  Gasquet is 75% (12-4) whilst Cilic is 74% (17-6).  Gasquet is slightly more solid on the serve, whilst Cilic is marginally better on the return.  I have Cilic’s projected hold at 77.8%, with Gasquet at 77.1%.  I’d look to lay either player if they broke first in the first set here.  I don’t feel that there’s that much of an edge to this play, but there is some, in my opinion.  Also I’ve just got a hunch that this will be a very competitive match with a few breaks.  

 

In-play is where Gasquet has the edge for me.  His record when a set down has really improved, he is 14-15 in the last year from this scenario, which is exceptional.  If Cilic takes the first, I’ll look to lay him.  Again possibly if he goes a set and break up.  Gasquet also shades the deciding set records.  Definitely a few potential entry points there.

 

I have a feeling that Wawrinka may shock Murray in the other match at 1pm.  Wawrinka had a facile win over the veteran clay courter Montanes on Wednesday, dropping only 2 games.  Whilst Murray eased past Roger-Vasselin, he will find it much harder against the Swiss, who is more of a fan of the clay than Murray.  As I mentioned yesterday, I feel Murray is a short priced disaster waiting to happen on clay, and he starts at about 1.38 here.  I wouldn’t back him at that price with borrowed money.  He is 71% (10-4) on clay in the last year, with Wawrinka 69% (20-9) in the same time frame.  Wawrinka holds 83.4% on the surface, with Murray only holding 78.9%.  They both break way over average, with Wawrinka at 31.1% and Murray 33.1%.  I can see plenty of breaks here.  I’d lay either player, particularly Murray, if they got the first break in the first set.  

 

What worries me about a pre-match back of Wawrinka is that Murray has got so much better at coming back from a losing position.  He is one of the best in the ATP from a set down, so if Wawrinka takes the first set, I’d have to lay him.  However, I wouldn’t put readers off a lay-to-back on Murray.  That could work well.  Wawrinka doesn’t have a great record coming back from deficits, though, so I wouldn’t lay Murray if he took the first.  Both players disappoint in deciders.  I’d lay either a break up in a decider too.  Again, a good few opportunities here.

 

Can Monaco shock Djokovic in the afternoon?  I must admit I didn’t expect Youzhny to run Djokovic so close on Wednesday, so perhaps.  But I just don’t feel Monaco has the killer instinct needed to beat the world number 1.  I have had him down as a bit of a choker for a while, and he’s yet to convince me otherwise.  Djokovic, who still may be some way from fitness, starts at 1.13.  If anything, perhaps you could look at this for another lay to back.  I just can’t see Monaco seeing this through unfortunately.  Djokovic, perhaps surprisingly for a player of his status, only holds 80.5% on clay (down from 86.8% overall) in the last 12 months, so with Monaco being most effective receiving, there could be plenty of breaks here too.  If Monaco nicks an early break, I’d perhaps go in and lay him, if Djokovic doesn’t look injured.  Keep that trade small though.  If Djokovic breaks early, it would be pretty rude not to lay him at a very short price.  

 

Again, if Djokovic looks fit, I’d like to take him if Monaco takes the first set.  As I said, I’ve got extreme doubts that Monaco can see this out, and his record against top 10 players when priced >6.00 doesn’t change my opinion of that.  In that scenario he is 1-15 in his career, with his sole victory coming against Murray in Valencia in 2010.  I’d also side with the world number 1 in a decider, as long as he isn’t visibly injured or playing highly below his level.  Monaco, despite the win somewhat gifted to him by Gulbis in the last round, has a poor record in deciders.

 

The final match of the day is Nieminen against Del Potro.  My research shows that Nieminen recently has a terrible record in the match after a 3 setter, so although Del Potro wasn’t impressive against Dolgopolov, I can’t see past him here, although he’s not exactly generously priced at 1.14.  I do feel Nieminen’s serve, although it’s worked well this week, will be under pressure, so a lay of him a break up in the first set may prove worthwhile.  His record a set down is poor, so I can see this being a straightforward win for the Argentine if he takes the first.  Punters not wishing to take the 1.14 on Del Potro may prefer the 1.45 (possibly bigger once all bookmakers have priced this up) on him winning 2-0.  

 

I think I’d have to lay the veteran Finn if he took the first set.  Del Potro’s class should come through, and he has a good record coming back from losing positions, as well as an excellent deciding set record.

 

That’s all we have for today, as always good luck whatever you decide to back or lay.  I’m more than happy to answer any questions, or hear any feedback you may have.  You can contact me on twitter (@tennisratings), or by email at dw25jp@yahoo.co.uk.  

 

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013.

 

I’ve moved the article about bankroll management down from the top of the page now.   It will be just under today’s previews if you would like to read it.  

I did an interesting survey of the first round matches in Monte Carlo.  Out of 523 service games, 164 breaks were obtained.  This works out at 31.36% of service games broken and is way above the ATP average of 24.4%.  Whilst its fair to say that there were some very weak servers playing so far which have increased the average - Simon v Bautista-Agut and Klizan v Monaco spring to mind - there’s also been games with few breaks - Isner v Gulbis, Montanes v Monfils and Raonic v Benneteau (although Raonic was dominant there were only 3 breaks in 17 games).  

 

Therefore it’s no surprise that trading service breaks have been a profitable strategy this week and is something we can continue for the rest of the week, using the strategy selectively.

 

Wednesday’s Previews:-

 

Most of the matches in Monte Carlo are streamed today, with just 3 not available on Betfair live video or Sky Sports.  Unfortunately one of the matches that I wanted to watch, but I had a feeling wouldn’t be shown, is the clash between the poor servers Bautista-Agut and Florian Mayer.  Fortunately the other match I really wanted to be streamed, which I also feared wouldn’t be shown, between Ramos and Fognini is.

 

The first two matches at just after 9:30am UK time feature dominant favourites.

 

Granollers made me good money yesterday when he turned around his clash with Hanescu.  He comfortably took the last two sets after giving up a first set break lead and the set on a tiebreak.  He faces a huge step up in level when he takes on Berdych today.  Considering he hasn’t played since mid-march, and hasn’t played a match on clay I can’t have the 1.12 on offer on the Czech.  I’m not sure Granollers can up his level enough to take this, but perhaps Berdych will lower his.  In the last 12 months, Berdych is 15-5 and Granollers 10-7 on clay in main draw ATP matches.  Clearly Berdych deserves favourtism but I quite fancy a very cheap lay-to-back on him.  I can see Granollers nicking an early break and then eventually crumbling as the pressure gets to him and Berdych gets more acclimatised to the surface.  If Granollers does take a break lead then we can green up with nice profit.  If you do take this entry point, it’s especially important to get out with profit.  Granollers’ weak serve should be extremely exposed.  I have his projected hold at 65%, with Berdych 83%.

 

Many tennis fans and gamblers make a lot of Berdych being mentally weak.  In some scenarios I can’t disagree, but he does have a very solid record a set up, winning 91% of matches in this scenario.  The Spaniard is also excellent here, winning 22 and losing just one when he takes the first set.  So I can’t see either player coming back from a set down.  Granollers, it must be said, has a magnificent deciding set record (as I discussed yesterday, and which was exhibited again against Hanescu), winning 82% of his 11 deciders in the last 12 months (64% in his last 50 matches) so assuming he appears competitive and without fatigue, a lay of Berdych in any decider may prove worthwhile.  

 

The big-serving Canadian, Raonic, takes on Nieminen in the other early match.  I’m very surprised to see Raonic at 1.40 here.  For me, even at a short price, that’s a touch of value.  He was highly impressive against Benneteau on Monday, serving 15 aces, and has much the better clay serving stats (perhaps unsurprisingly).  I don’t rate Nieminen on clay.  Priced over 3.00 on clay, he is yet to win a match out of eleven attempts.  He did have an easy win against Troicki, but Troicki was Troicki.  He had a few opportunities to break in the first set and didn’t take them, and he eventually crumbled.  Raonic is 8-5 on clay in the last 12 months, Nieminen is 6-7.  I have Raonic’s projected hold at 89%, with Nieminen at 79%.  I don’t expect a huge number of breaks today, but I do expect that Raonic will have an edge.  

 

In-play, there’s not that much to separate these in various scenarios.  Nieminen has a poor record a set down, so I can’t see any lay of Raonic a set up being profitable.  Perhaps I’d lay Nieminen small if he got a set and break up, but it wouldn’t be a big trade.  Both players are very poor in deciding sets.  I mentioned before that I’m looking to expose Raonic’s issues in these but he keeps getting drawn against players who can’t take advantage.  I’m sure that will change before too long.

 

The match I alluded to earlier between Florian Mayer and Bautista-Agut interests me greatly.  Both players’ serve were highly exposed in the previous round, with Bautista-Agut being broken almost at will by Simon.  He gave Simon 15 break points, and 6 were converted in 11 games.  Mayer’s serve, particularly in the first set, appeared vulnerable against world number 589 Balleret, offering 11 break points and was broken 4 times in 14 games by a very weak opponent.  I can see many breaks here.  Even though the match isn’t streamed, I will lay the player a break up in the first set in this match.

 

I wouldn’t expect this match to feature a comeback.  Both players are very weak a set down.  They have very similar deciding set records.  I’d lay the player in front in a deciding set, looking for the break back.

 

Cilic v Anderson is the other non streamed match scheduled for shortly after 11am.  I think Anderson has played too much tennis lately and Cilic will be able to take advantage of this.  He is the better clay courter in my opinion, although I do feel Anderson is under-rated on the surface, as I previously wrote.  Cilic starts as 1.43 favourite, perhaps that’s a touch of value although I was hoping for bigger than that.  With two solid servers I don’t expect a ton of breaks, although with Cilic breaking serve 31% of the time on clay in the last year, Anderson’s serve may come under more pressure than he has been recently used to.  

 

There’s very little to split the two players when looking at their in-play records, except Cilic shades the deciding set records.  If Anderson goes ahead in a deciding set, I’ll lay him.

 

In another of a few matches with a player priced around 1.1 or lower today, clay and Monte Carlo legend Nadal (1.01) faces Matosevic.  Matosevic came from 1-5 down to defeat the crumbling Verdasco in straight sets yesterday.  Clearly with these prices I’d be insane if I felt that the Australian had much of a chance to win this.  With a projected hold of 53%, I can see him really struggling to hold serve.  With Matosevic’s matches, it’s always worth bearing in mind his excellent deciding set record, however.

 

The final match at just after 11am is one I’m looking forward to, Ramos taking on Fognini.  Both players have weak serves, with projected service holds at 70% and 65% respectively.  Therefore I’ll be looking to lay the player with a break lead in the first set.  Ramos has been terrible when a set down in the last year, with a 2-22 record (8%).  If the volatile Fognini takes the first set, I wouldn’t lay him.  He actually is pretty solid from winning positions.  If Ramos takes the first set, I may look to place a small lay on him.  His record when a set up isn’t the best.  I’ll look to add to that position if he goes a set and break up.  Furthermore, Ramos has a very poor 38% record in the last year in deciding sets, so with Fognini’s record being fairly average, I’ll look to get on the Italian at various times in a decider.  There could easily be a short-odds loss in this match.

 

There has been much speculation as to whether Djokovic would play this week, but he has decided his ankle is good enough to participate.  He’s up against the inconsistent Russian, Youzhny.  Despite these injury doubts, Djokovic is 1.08 favourite.

 

If Djokovic is fit, this will be a stroll for him.  If he’s not, then I’m not sure I want to touch it.  He showed against Querrey he can still win when injured, but I’m not interested in backing an injured player.  I’ll just move on.

 

The other streamed match at around 1pm will be Melzer against Almagro.  Almagro is 1.19 favourite for this.  I can’t help feeling that I want to take him on in this match, with surely the amount of tennis and travelling that he has incurred taking a toll on his body.  Goffin almost took advantage yesterday.  However, I’m not sure Melzer can take advantage of it today either..  He’d need to roll back the years to find a performance able to take this.  His clay record in the last 12 months is poor, with a 3-6 record and only holding serve 66.7% of the time in those matches.  He struggled past Huta Galung yesterday in a deciding set.

 

Watching this match is pretty crucial.  If Melzer appears to be relatively competitive, I may lay Almagro if he takes the opening set.  Melzer’s record a set down and in deciding sets is excellent.  I may also lay Melzer for a small stake if he takes the opening set himself.  As I just alluded to, Melzer appears to thrive in deciding sets of matches and could be another viable entry point.

 

There are two matches left, probably starting just after 2pm.  Gulbis, fresh from his win over a tired Isner, takes on the predominantly clay-court specialist Monaco, who turned around a break deficit twice in the first set yesterday in his 6-4, 6-0 win over the disappointing Klizan.  Gulbis starts as a marginal favourite, at around 1.8.  

 

In this, I’ll be looking to take on Monaco in-play.  I’m not sure if I’d necessarily lay him if he got a break up in the first set, because Gulbis’ 21.2% of breaks on clay in the last year isn’t impressive (although some of those matches were when the ‘Old Gulbis’ was playing!).  I’m definitely laying the Argentine if he can take the first set.  Gulbis really has a superb record when a set down.  Also, Monaco’s deciding record leaves a lot to be desired, with a 5-7 record against often inferior opponents.  In the last year, as favourite, he has lost in deciding sets to Haase, Tipsarevic, Baghdatis, Ramos and Isner.  So I’ll be on Gulbis probably in any decider, especially if he is losing in it.

 

The final match of the day is another one featuring a short-priced favourite as Murray starts his tournament against Roger-Vasselin.  I don’t particularly rate Murray on clay and I think he’s a short priced disaster waiting to happen sometime soon.  I’m not sure the Frenchman is the player to do that today though.  Perhaps against Wawrinka or even Montanes next round.  His serve is never the most consistent or potent at the best of times and it’s especially mediocre on the slower clay surface.  In fact, his average hold of 78.3% is only a shade over the 78.2% average of his opponent!  Obviously Murray breaks serve a great deal more (32.3% to 22.9%) and that’s where his edge comes from.  If Roger-Vasselin does win the first set, I’d probably choose that as an entry point to back Murray.  He is superb from a set down, winning a tour high 61% (11-7) in the last year from this point.  More than good enough for me.  However, it’s important not to let that trade enter a deciding set, where Murray, strangely considering his high level of fitness, has a very poor record for a player of his ability.

 

A difficult set of matches today with few clear edges.  In the most part, for me, stakes will be kept fairly small, and I’ll be pretty circumspect with my entry points.  I won’t force the action if the opportunities aren’t there.

 

As always, good luck with whatever you bet or trade, and there will be more tomorrow.

 

Tuesday, April 17th, 2013.

 

There’s a lot of matches in Monte Carlo today and I’m going to have my work cut out previewing all the matches!  I will be a little selective today and preview all the streamed matches.  If I get the time, I will attempt to do write-ups for the non streamed matches as well.

 

The pick of the early streamed matches feature Tipsarevic and Dimitrov, in a match which I’m struggling to decide whether the Serb is value at around 1.8 or to recommend the odds against on the Bulgarian.  Last season Tipsarevic definitely impressed, with a 20-6 record on the dirt.  Dimitrov was 9-5 himself, and can justifiably claim he is a better player than this time last year.  However, what worries me about him is the fact that he didn’t win a single clay match priced as an underdog last year.  This really puts me off siding with him.  Last year, on clay, Tipsarevic won a number of matches against high-calibre opposition, winning as an underdog against Monaco (in the final of Stuttgart), Berdych, Djokovic and Simon.  He clearly has the higher ceiling in this match-up, but isn’t in the best form.  I don’t want to get involved pre-match here.

 

Both players are very marginally below average for their serve hold expectation.  There’s an incredibly little amount in it, though.  Dimitrov has a strange in-play record.   His record at a set down is horrendous, but his deciding set record is superb.  This would probably indicate that he lets his level slip after taking the first set, before frequently recovering in a decider.  So laying Dimitrov a set up may be an avenue to explore, as Tipsarevic has a reasonable record a set down.  I’d go small stakes there though.  Dimitrov, as I mentioned, has an excellent record in deciders, so I’d look to side with him there.  I’d probably go in again if he went a break down in a decider, to ‘average down’ my average lay price.

 

The other early streamed match is Matosevic against Verdasco.  The Australian is someone I don’t particularly rate on clay, whilst Verdasco I don’t rate full-stop.  Yet again the Spaniard disappointed last week, getting destroyed as a short priced favourite by Ramirez-Hidalgo in two easy straight sets in Houston.  The market appears uneasy on him, moving his opening line of 1.33 up to 1.47 at the time of writing.  With Matosevic probably uncomfortable on the surface (on 3 ATP main draw matches in the last year) and Verdasco’s career in a huge rut (4-9 this season), I don’t expect overwhelming consistency here.  I can see a lot of breaks.  So I’ll look to lay the player a break up in the first set, and go from there.  If the break is equalised, I’ll green up.

 

I’m actually looking at Matosevic having the edge in play with this match-up.  Verdasco has a shocking record at a set down, so I wouldn’t want to oppose Matosevic who has a decent record from a winning position.  Matosevic also shows some heart from losing positions, so if Verdasco took the first set I’d be tempted with a small, cheap lay.  With Matosevic winning an excellent 73% (16-6 record) of deciding sets, compared to Verdasco’s 50% (4-4) and 56% career, I know that I’d look to side with the underdog in the decider if he is showing a competitive level and doesn’t seem too tired.

 

The first of the second set of streamed matches is Kohlschreiber, who has been backed in from 1.6x to 1.47, against Andujar.  When a player drifts, it’s usually a guessing game as to why.  Not so with Andujar, who tends to drift in almost every match...

 

Despite being a clay-courter, Andujar has a considerably worse record on clay (12-13) in the last year than Kohlschreiber (14-7), who put most of the fitness doubts about him away with an excellent, facile victory over the clay-specialist Bellucci in the first round.  He also, perhaps crucially, has an extra days rest than the Spaniard, who had a long 3-set win over Chardy yesterday afternoon.  There’s no doubt that if you got the prices over 1.6 then you had a very good bet.  Even at 1.47 I’m wondering whether the German could still be value.

 

I’d expect Andujar’s weak serve to come under pressure.  He only holds 69% of the time on clay, well below average.  Although he was only broken twice in 16 return games by Chardy, he gave 11 break points.  Most opponents won’t be as wasteful faced with those opportunities.  If he gets in front by a break in the fist set, I’ll lay him with the hope Kohlschreiber breaks back.

 

Both players’ record a set down isn’t good, with Andujar’s especially bad.  I don’t see a turnaround happening here.  Both players’ deciding set records aren’t great either, Kohlschreiber with the marginal edge.

 

Paire against Gasquet is the second streamed match at probably just after 11am.  The volatile Paire again showed his fragility and why traders love him as he was immediately broken twice after breaking Dodig in the first set.  He also almost threw away a 4-0 lead in the second set, although as Dodig’s record from a set down is one of the worst on tour, he should never have been unduly worried.

 

Gasquet starts as a strong favourite today, at around 1.24.  He beat Paire recently in the final of Montpellier (Indoor Hard) in straight sets, at the same starting price.  I feel Paire is slightly better on clay than on hard surfaces, so perhaps this could be a little closer.  However, Gasquet has a good record on clay and also is showing a higher level this season than previously, so perhaps not.  

 

I do feel Paire’s weak serve and mentality will let him down if he gets in front, so I’d definitely look to lay him in a first set if he gets a break lead.  Gasquet has an excellent record from a set down so I’d also look to lay Paire if he took the first set.  At a set and a break up, too.  Gasquet also has an impressive record in deciders, so I’d also look to get involved here - depending on the price from the start, or if he falls behind.  I wouldn’t lay Gasquet if he takes the first set.

 

At around 1pm, we have an intriguing clash between the entertaining Monfils, and the veteran clay-courter, Montanes.  As I mentioned last week, Monfils hasn’t pulled up any trees since his return from injury and definitely isn’t at the level he was previously.  His ranking, currently at 103, hasn’t improved since his return.  He starts as a 1.65 favourite for this match.

 

With the inconsistency of Monfils, and Montanes having a weak serve (69.5% projected hold) I can see there being breaks here.  I’ll be laying the player that can get a break in front in the first set.  That’s definitely a good entry point, in my opinion.  There’s very little in this, in play, with the exception of the deciding set.  Both players have a positive record but Montanes has an exceptional one (11-4 in the last 12 months), despite his age.

 

I’m also looking forward to watching Tsonga and Davydenko play later.  Davydenko had a more comfortable victory over Brands than I expected, but will be up against it against the talented Frenchman, who famously threw away match points in pushing Djokovic all the way in last year’s French Open on clay.  I can also see there being breaks here.  Davydenko’s serve isn’t strong, and as you’d expect, Tsonga is strong on return.  Davydenko also has good clay break of serve stats.

 

I’d expect Tsonga to comfortably see the match out if he can take the first set.  Davydenko is not strong when a set down.  Tsonga also doesn’t impress, considering his ability, when a set down.  He does have the better of two poor deciding set records, however.  Entry points for me would be to lay the player a break up in the first set, and hope the losing player can break back before the end of the set.  I’d also look to back Tsonga in any deciding set against the veteran Russian, whose career record of 49% success in deciders was never good to start with - he is 6-7 in deciders in the last 12 months.

 

Dolgopolov’s match with Del Potro is also a match that should be good for the neutral.  The inconsistent Ukrainian starts as a heavy underdog, but we have seen that on occasion that he can play some excellent tennis and surprise some bigger names.  Del Potro is a heavy favourite pre-match at 1.24.  I wouldn’t back this price as he hasn’t played since his shock defeat to Kamke at 1.05 SP in Miami.  

 

As heavy favourite, it’s not unreasonable to assume Del Potro shades the stats - I have his projected hold percentage at around 87%, with Dolgopolov below average at 74%.  So I’ll definitely look to lay Dolgopolov if he gets in front by a break in the first set.  Another nice potential entry point could be if Dolgopolov does manage to take the first set.  Del Potro is an above average 8-13 when he’s down a set in the last 12 months, whilst Dolgopolov’s stats a set up are pretty average.  I’ll definitely look to lay Dolgopolov in that spot.  If Del Potro takes the first, I wouldn’t expect any unlikely comebacks.  Unsurprisingly with someone who is reported to have a mysterious energy related illness, Dolgopolov’s final set record is terrible.  He is 4-8 in the last 12 months, with Del Potro an impressive 12-4.  There could be some opportunities in the final set for Del Potro backers.  If he falls behind in it I am definitely backing him, unless he looks injured or unfit.

 

The final streamed match that I’m looking forward to is Isner’s match with Gulbis.  Bearing in mind that since winning Houston, Isner has had a day and a half to fly halfway across the world and get rid of jet-lag, I would be on the enigmatic Latvian.  He took Miami off to prepare for the clay court season and dropped a mere 11 games in 6 sets in the Davis Cup, ironically in Monaco, albeit against weak opposition.  Although most people have said it before with Gulbis, perhaps the penny has finally dropped with him and he can add consistency to his game, which can cause trouble for the best players in the world.  As with any match involving the giant-serving Isner, don’t expect breaks.  

 

If Gulbis can take the first set, I wouldn’t expect Isner, who surely will be fatigued, to come back.  However, if the American can take the first set, I’ll lay him.  Gulbis has a superb 11-17 record when a set down in the last 12 months (also adding weight to his improved mental state), and Isner will surely show the effects of fatigue the longer the match goes on.  Whilst Isner has the better deciding set record, I think this is a time where common sense may over-ride the statistics.  

 

I’m also interested in the Klizan v Monaco match, where I feel there could be a fair few breaks and swings, and also the matches with Almagro/Goffin and Anderson/Janowicz.  Almagro must be in a similar boat (or could I even say plane?) to Isner, and whilst Goffin may not be the ideal opponent to take advantage of this, I can’t help feeling I wouldn’t want to back the Spaniard, who rarely does things easily, at odds of around 1.2.  Janowicz had a superb 21-3 record in Challengers on clay last season, and I feel that he can test Anderson, who also must be tired after his run to the final in Casablanca last week.  Odds of around 2.5 appeal.  

 

As always, good luck with whatever you bet or trade on, and there’ll be more tomorrow.

 

Monday, April 16th, 2013.

 

There is only one tournament on the ATP tour this week as we visit the glamorous Monte Carlo for the Masters 1000 tournament, again on clay.  No WTA tournaments this week due to the Fed Cup being played at the weekend.

 

There are ten matches today, starting in around 20 minutes time.  The draw for the tournament has been slightly frustrating, in that players with weaknesses in certain scenarios have been drawn against players who appear unlikely to take advantage of those weaknesses.  

The first two matches start at just after 9:30am UK time, with serial traders favourite Paire facing Dodig, and Nieminen taking on the highly inconsistent Troicki.

 

As usual with matches involving Paire, expect the match to have a few swings.  Whether Dodig can take advantage of Paire’s fluctuating levels is another matter, though.  Dodig had a terrible 3-8 record last year in main draw ATP matches on clay, and only held serve in 64% of service games in those matches (average on all surfaces 76%).  He is 8-16 in his ATP career on clay.  If that continues, it won’t get him anywhere near the win today.  I’m looking to lay either player a break up in the first set, as par in most Paire matches.  

 

Dodig has a terrible 2-23 (8%) record when a set down, so if Paire does take the first set, I can’t see the Croat turning the match around.  Paire also has a much better deciding set record.  If Dodig does take the first set, I may enter with a small lay of him.  It probably is a trade with slight positive expectation.  I’m really looking to lay him a set and break up for a big swing, unless Paire looks totally disinterested, as he occasionally does.  

Overall, I’d expect Paire to win this in straight sets.  1.47 appears to represent a touch of value on the volatile Frenchman.  Several bookmakers are offering 2.2 on Paire to win 2-0, which is another option.

 

I’m not sure clay is Nieminen’s favourite surface by any means.  However I’m no fan of Troicki, whose career appears to be going downhill - although his record last year on clay is better than the Finn.  Troicki last year was 8-6 on clay, whereas Nieminen was 5-7.  Also, Nieminen’s serve hold percentage dropped from 74% to 70% on clay (nothing out of the ordinary) but Troicki’s stayed static at 74%.  Again I’d expect a few breaks in this.  Both players are below average for any surface.  

 

Whoever takes the first set should take this - I don’t expect any turnarounds although with two inconsistent players it’s not impossible.  Both players have poor records a set down and have similarly bad records in deciding sets.  I’m looking at laying either player a break up in the first set, and also the same in any deciding set.

 

Next up is Bautista-Agut, who faces Simon.  Simon starts at 1.23 in yet another game where I believe that both servers will struggle.  I’m particularly looking to lay Simon if he can get an early break up but Bautista-Agut looks competitive.  This may be a level too high for Bautista-Agut but Simon is no machine, that’s for sure.  

 

The oddsmakers may be underestimating the Spaniard here.  He was 0-3 in clay matches last year in ATP main draw matches, but this was whilst he was getting acclimatised to the higher level of competition.  Initially I was disappointed with him not being able to convert his excellent challenger form when playing lower level ATP players, but he has really stepped that up in the last half year or so.  He is 17-6 in Challenger matches on Clay in the last 12 months, so clearly is a fan of the surface.

 

I wouldn’t want to oppose either player if they take the first set.  Neither have a fantastic record of turning around losing positions.  Interestingly it’s Bautista-Agut who has the better deciding set record.  It may be worth a lay of Simon in a deciding set, depending on the price.

 

In the second match scheduled for around 11am, the qualifier Brands takes on Davydenko.  I did well opposing the Russian on the dirt last year, and hopefully I can do more of the same this year.  He starts as favourite at around the 1.71 mark.

 

Whether this is the match to do it, though, I’m unconvinced of.  In their clay matches last year, Brands had the better service stats, unsurprisingly (78% holds to 69% and Davydenko the much better return stats (28% to 15%).  I still feel there will be a few breaks in this, with Davydenko having a weak serve yet still good when receiving serve.  

 

Brands still has to add a lot of consistency to his game at this level, but I’d be surprised if Davydenko could turn around a losing position.  In the last 12 months he has only won 4 out of 24 matches where he lost the first set.  There are also some rumours going around that Davydenko may have an injury problem prior to this match.  If Davydenko got a set and break up, I’d probably lay him for a small amount.  Brands, albeit including some matches on the Challenger Tour, has a 73% record in the last 12 months in deciding sets.  Davydenko, perhaps showing his age a little, is only 46% in deciders.  I know who I’m favouring to come through a third set...

 

It’s a shame that two of the matches scheduled for around mid-day aren’t being streamed, as both Andujar v Chardy and Haase v Roger-Vasselin could also be very swingy.  

 

Andujar’s match with Chardy is another game where I’d expect the serve to come under pressure, particularly in the case of the out-of-form Andujar.  He’s done well to come through qualifying, defeating the French duo De Schepper (who was probably tired after playing in Casablanca) and Rufin.  Perhaps this will signal an upturn in his form.  He starts as a slight favourite, at 1.71.  This is probably more down to the fact that Chardy may be rusty, having not played for a month since he was defeated by Malisse in Miami.

 

I’ll be looking to lay either player a break up in the first set of this match, and also in a deciding set (assuming either player isn’t visibly fatigued).  Both players records in deciders, and when a set down, are abysmal.  

 

Another player loved by traders is the dutchman, Haase.  Today he faces the also inconsistent Roger-Vasselin, of France.  Haase starts as marginal 1.9 favourite, and I think that could represent a touch of value, if his shoulder isn’t injured. As I mentioned previously, I rate him much higher on clay than I do on hard courts, and he has a winning 14-10 record on clay in the last 12 months.  Roger-Vasselin, on the other hand is 4-7 on clay in the same time period.  Haase has a much higher percentage breaking his opponents serve, (28% to 21%) and this could see Roger-Vasselin’s weak serve come under a lot of pressure.  For a little while now I’ve marked the Frenchman down as someone who struggles on serve with in-match pressure situations and this could be exhibited today.  I’ll be looking to lay him if he can get a break up, although I won’t be doing the same in a tiebreak!  Haase has lost his last 11 tiebreaks.

 

Haase has a poor record when a set up, and so does Roger-Vasselin.  However, in what I was alluding to in my introduction to the day’s play, this is a frustrating draw because neither player has a good enough record from a set down to be able to take on the first set winner with a low-risk, high-reward, cheap lay.  Haase has a very marginal edge in deciding set records.  

 

The final four matches are all streamed.  Two more start a shade after midday.

 

There is the all-italian clash between Fognini and Seppi.  Fognini is a clay-courter who has shown a slight improvement on the hard courts, whereas Seppi now has improved into a good all-round player.  After a little drift, Seppi starts as 1.7 favourite.  

 

In the last 12 months on clay, Seppi has an excellent 14-5 record, including winning the tournament in Belgrade last April.  On the surface in the last year, he has beaten players of the calibre of Nalbandian, Isner, Wawrinka and Verdasco so he should be confident coming into this clay part of the season.  Fognini, despite his liking of the surface, has a much more average 15-13 record.  

 

On clay, Fognini’s serve is further exposed, holding just 72% of the time.  However, he breaks 30% of the time, so with Seppi’s serve a touch above average, we could again see plenty of breaks.  In what appears to be the strategy of the day, I’ll look to lay either player a break up in the first set.  In another match where I wish the two players drew someone else, Fognini has an excellent record a set up, which somewhat cancels out Seppi’s ‘bouncebackability’.  Seppi has a very mediocre record a set up, but Fognini’s record down a set is nothing to write home about.  Seppi has a large edge when comparing the deciding set records, so I’ll look to back him at the start of a third set (assuming he isn’t visibly fatigued), and again if he falls a break behind.

 

In a match where many appear to feel an upset could be on the cards, the big-serving Raonic plays the wily veteran, Benneteau.  Raonic is favourite, at around 1.5.  Both players didn’t play too much on clay in the last year, with Raonic playing 12 matches (7-5) and Benneteau just the 7 (4-3), although it’s worth pointing out that Benneteau was injured in this tournament last year, breaking his elbow if I recall correctly against Murray.

 

Raonic’s serve appears not to lose an effectiveness on the dirt, holding 92% of the time in the last year.  I feel this will be a pretty close match with few breaks.  The Frenchman’s serve is above average on clay, and with Raonic only breaking on average 16% of the time, it may not be as exposed as against some other top players.

 

Benneteau’s record a set down isn’t great, which scuppers our hopes of taking on Raonic if he can take the first set.  Raonic himself has a mediocre record in this scenario, so annoyingly we may have few opportunities in this match.  Both players have an utterly terrible deciding set record.  Raonic is only 41% in the last 12 months and 45% career, whilst Benneteau has only won 4 of 15 deciders in the last year, as age begins to catch up with him.  It’s a real shame that there’s not an opportunity to expose both players frailties in this scenario.  

 

The final couple of matches feature a clay-courter against a higher ranked player.

 

Gimeno-Traver will be pleased the clay swing has arrived, although his record on hard courts has shown a good improvement recently.  He is up against Youzhny today, who is marginal 1.8 favourite.  Whilst there’s no doubt that clay brings these two players level closer together, I need to make up my mind if this price is generous on the Russian - have the bookmakers over-reacted to this match being on clay?  As I mentioned before I do like to take on weaker clay-courters against their generally better opponents.  In the last 12 months on clay, Youzhny is 6-6 and Gimeno-Traver 7-11.  Youzhny had a good win over Giraldo in the last year as a slight underdog, but all his other victories were against players he was expected to beat.  Apart from a 6-1, 6-3 defeat by Gil here last year, all his defeats were against those he’d be expected to lose to.  This defeat here does worry me slightly, so it’s unlikely I’ll get involved pre-match.

 

Both players hold serve 75% on clay, with Youzhny having the slight edge on return, breaking 24% to 20%.  I’m leaning towards laying Gimeno-Traver if he gets in front by a break in the first set.  Youzhny has a poor record when a set up, but Gimeno-Traver is awful a set down.  If Gimeno-Traver takes the first set I’d expect him to come through.  He has a decent record in this scenario, whereas Youzhny doesn’t have the best record coming back.  Youzhny has the better deciding set record, so I may be tempted to side with him in a decider.  Definitely if Gimeno gets in front in a deciding set.

The final match today is between Cilic, and Zeballos.  Cilic starts as 1.3 favourite against the Argentine clay-courter.

 

Cilic has a surprisingly good record on the dirt, winning 15 out of 21 matches in the past 12 months.  I presume that’s why he is so short in the betting, although it’s also worth mentioning Zeballos doesn’t have the best record out of South America.  Certainly Cilic’s above average 29% break of his opponent’s serve is worth mentioning, as it should put the Argentine under pressure on serve.

 

I’ll look to back Cilic if he goes a break down in the first set here, and hopefully his higher ability will come through.  Zeballos has a decent record a set down so perhaps it may be worth a very cheap lay opposing Cilic if he takes the first set.  It certainly would be rude not to lay Cilic a set and break up if Zeballos looks to be fairly competitive.  Zeballos may well have an edge in any deciding set.  Even before his shock victory over Nadal, his record in these was highly impressive. 

 

Review of Friday and the weekend:-

 

Followers should have had a great weekend to celebrate after Friday’s action, which was an excellent trading day for me.  

 

In Katowice quarter-finals, I wanted to back Vinci against Pliskova at bigger than SP.  It never happened and she powered to a comfortable victory.  I didn’t get involved there.  I also didn’t get involved in the Kvitova v Martic match.

 

I had a superb result in the Beck v Camerin match as Beck came from 1-5 down to take the first set.  I noticed in previous matches, and again here, Camerin struggles with her serve in pressure situations and again that was correct.  After that first set success, I didn’t get involved with the second set as I felt Beck would cruise from there, and indeed she did, winning it 6-0.

 

Peer v Cadantu was trading heaven if you were amongst those who realised that both women would struggle to hold serve.  6 breaks in a row started the match, and by then I was in a great position.  Not only this, I pointed out Peer has a terrible record a set up and Cadantu should have the edge in a deciding set, and both hypotheses proved correct.  Not many times does a match go so well...

 

In Casablanca quarter finals, I got myself into a good position with the traditional Paire trade when a break up, although I lost most of my green when I laid Robredo at 2-0 in the final set.  Small profit there.

 

Wawrinka dominated Garcia-Lopez, and no entry points were triggered.

 

I had a speculative lay of Anderson after he took the first set against Zemlja, who has a great record from losing positions.  In a frustrating set which Anderson finally took on his 7th match point, Zemlja had his opportunities with a fair few break points which the big-serving South African managed to save.  A small to medium sized loss there.

 

The final quarter final surprised me, in the ease that Klizan saw off Haase - although I did manage to call the 2-0 scoreline correctly for a boost in the pre-match odds.  I managed a nice lay of Haase, as well as a lot of twitter apparently, laying him at *5-6 in the first set, when he choked serving for the tiebreak, which he probably assumed he’d lose anyway...

 

In Houston, I had a superb result in the final set of Williams v Ramirez Hidalgo.  I mentioned before that the Spaniard has an awful record in the deciding set of matches.  I was also alerted to a tweet of his, in Spanish, that alluded to the fact that he was metaphorically ‘dead’ after playing singles and doubles the day before.  I laid him at the start of the set, and worryingly he raced into a one break, 3-0 lead.  Although Williams was clearly getting a decent look at his weak serve, failing to break from 15-40 in the game previously.  I laid again, at this point, when Ramirez was very short, at 1.1.  This was a true gift.  I really feel this was the trade of the week.  When Williams broke back, I put all my green on him at 1.45, effectively having a free bet on him.  He turned the set round, to lead at 5-3, when I laid him back for equal green.  He won the set 6-4.

 

After that, very happy with my days work, I just turned the laptop off and didn’t worry about the Almagro v Lorenzi match!

 

I took Saturday off and just posted the previews for the finals on Sunday.

 

In the women’s final in Katowice, things started well as Kvitova came from a break down to level with Vinci, so a nice green was obtained.  However, by the time Vinci won the second set 6-1, my profit was gone (although no loss was incurred) by laying Vinci a set up and at a set and break up.

 

Robredo continued his excellent record from a set up in Casablanca, eventually winning in three sets.  My entry point here was the deciding set, where I stated he had an edge in, and this was proven correct.

 

The pre-match bets recommended on Isner outright and on the handicap in Houston came up trumps, with the American actually managing to come through in straight sets!  I didn’t get involved in trading this because no entry points were met.

 

Sunday, April 15th, 2013.

 

I enjoyed a nice day off yesterday.  It’s important not to burn yourself out and after a decent week I like to have a little bit of time away from the laptop and betfair, doing something completely different.  

 

There are three finals today, to conclude the weeks events.  There are also three first round matches in Monte Carlo, although I’m not too worried about them - they’re not streamed.  In the first match, Kohlschreiber, despite being out of form and with fitness doubts, beat clay specialist Bellucci.  Dolgopolov looks to be on his way to a straightforward victory over Tomic, leading at the time of writing, 6-2, 3-1.  Tomic was a player I opposed on most occasions last season when on clay, and I don’t see many reasons why that wouldn’t be the case this year as well.

 

Casablanca kicks off our action at 3:30pm UK time with Robredo facing Anderson in the semi final.  Whilst I expected Anderson to defeat Klizan, who has looked fairly shaky all week, yesterday, Robredo beating Wawrinka especially after taking a beating in the first set was a huge shock.  

A lot has been made of Robredo’s weak serve in some quarters, although he’s actually marginally above the ATP average for clay at 76.6% holds in the past 12 months.  Anderson is below the average for returning, although that’s a stat on the rise.  I really like the effort the South African has made this year to improve his game and ranking, and it’s paying off for sure.

 

The serve/return stats make Robredo a slight favourite - predicted holds are Robredo 83% and Anderson 80% - but I’m not convinced that tells the full story.  I feel the prices pre-match with Anderson at 1.75, are pretty fair.  I don’t see a turnaround happening in this match.  Robredo in particular has an excellent record when a set up.  Interestingly, after several excellent deciding set victories in this tournament, Robredo looks to have an edge comparing deciding set records.

 

Almagro versus Isner is our other ATP final today, in Houston.  This will definitely be a close match which a few key points will decide.  Tie-breaks are definitely conceivable, and Isner has a great record in these.  I do feel Almagro should be favourite but is way too short at 1.27.  Isner is a fighter with a reasonable clay record, and I feel is definitely worth a pre-match bet at a nice price, around 4.3x, or on either the set/game handicap.  

Isner is 1.91 with Paddy Power with a 3.5 game start.  I feel that’s a great bet as it allows him to lose a tiebreak and lose another set 6-4, which is definitely a chance, should he lose the match.  Pinnacle are offering 2.1 on Isner +1.5 sets.  

 

As with the first final in Casablanca, whoever wins the first set should take this.  Neither player has a stellar record coming back from a set down.  Isner has by far the superior deciding set record, winning 71% of deciders in the last 12 months.  That’s a good entry point for me.

 

In the WTA, in Katowice, the final is between Kvitova and Vinci.  After a little drift, Kvitova starts as 1.6 favourite, and I think I quite like that price.  She is way superior on the serve/return stats, and I feel that her return game will put much more pressure on Vinci’s serve than Beck and Pliskova managed in the two previous rounds.  We saw with Bertens, how a good returner at a high level can make Vinci drop a lot of service games.  

 

I’ll be looking to lay Vinci if she can get in front by a break in the first set.  I really feel her serve will be vulnerable in this encounter and if Kvitova can get back on terms I can create a nice green.  If Vinci does manage to take the first set, I’ll lay her again, and at a set and a break up as well.  Kvitova does have a good record coming back from a set down, and should have the edge in any decider.  Definitely a few good entry points for me here.

 

I’ll post a review of Friday later today, apologies for not getting round to doing that yesterday.

 

Saturday, April 13th, 2013.

 

Hi everyone.  Sorry but there won’t be any previews today.  After a really good trading day I’m spending the day with my family.  I’ll try and get the reviews of yesterday’s matches up later.  

 

Friday, April 12th, 2013.

 

We are into the quarter finals of our three tournaments today, with some surprise names making up the fields.  In Katowice, most of the seeds have fallen, with only Kvitova and Vinci remaining.  Houston has Williams facing Ramirez-Hidalgo, with one of these players going to be a very unlikely semi-finalist.  Ginepri, too, hasn’t reached many ATP quarter-finals lately.  It’s a little more predictable in Casablanca, with all the players having at least some recent experience in the business end of a tournament.

 

Our action starts at midday UK time, in Katowice.

 

The first match scheduled there is Karolina Pliskova, who has impressed this week, particularly with her strong serve, versus Vinci.  Vinci had a real battle yesterday against Bertens, coming through in three tight sets.  Pliskova had that superb straight sets victory over Kanepi the day before.  

There will be, in my opinion, less breaks of serve in this than there was in the Vinci v Bertens match.  Pliskova, as I have mentioned, has a very strong serve that was working well against Kanepi.  She tends to break less than the WTA average, as well.  

 

There are few outstanding entry points in this match-up, I feel.  I feel it will be quite close, with a few key points deciding matters.  I think Vinci deserves her status as a pre-match favourite, but I feel 1.47 is not value on the Italian.  Pliskova could easily surprise her, and perhaps a handicap bet on Pliskova may offer slight value.  Obviously I’m not the only one feeling Vinci offers little value, as she has drifted from 1.38 with Pinnacle Sports.  Having said all this, I think I’d be prepared to lay Pliskova for a small-ish stake if she takes the first set.  If Vinci can get her nose in front in the second set, I’ll take the green that this generates.  Vinci should have a slight edge in a deciding set.  Her record is nothing to write home about, but Pliskova is only 45% in the last 12 months, and that also includes matches on the lower ITF tour, against far worse opponents.

 

Next up in Katowice, is a match I’m looking forward to trading, Beck v Camerin.  As with the first match, I feel Beck deserves to be favourite, but 1.44 is too skinny on the young German, in my opinion.  Camerin has fought tooth and nail to be here today, coming through qualifying, and won’t go away without another fight.  

 

Both girls have a very poor serve for this level, and break a good deal above average, so I’m expecting a huge number of breaks here.  In fact my model has both girls service holds around the 40% mark, which is one of the lowest match-ups that it’s ever generated.  If either goes a break up in the first set, I’ll be laying them.  

 

Camerin has a really poor record when going a set down, perhaps indicating that she can be outclassed on occasions, and if Beck took the first set, I would expect her to record a straighforward victory.  If Camerin, however, takes the first set, I’ll get a small lay in on her as Beck’s record when a set down, is very good.  Camerin, perhaps surprisingly, has the better deciding set record.

 

The tournament favourite, Kvitova, takes on Martic in the third match.  Martic must be pretty happy to be in the quarter-finals after she has had to endure a miserable run lately.  Before this week, she had lost 6 straight matches, spanning back to quarter-finals of Linz in early October.  Kvitova starts as favourite, unsurprisingly, at around the 1.26 mark.  Both players are strong servers, so I wouldn’t expect a break-fest here.

  

Whilst I don’t expect an utterly dominant scoreline, I do expect Kvitova to get through in straight sets.  A similar scoreline to her match with Doi, 6-4, 6-4, wouldn’t surprise me.  Martic has only won 12.5% of the matches she falls a set behind in, in the last 12 months.  If Martic does manage to take the first set, I’d lay her for a very small stake.  She’s not the worst when a set up, although Kvitova does have an impressive record a set down.  I’d expect Kvitova to take any deciding set.

 

In the final match in Poland today, lucky loser Peer, who yesterday had a comfortable win over Craybas, plays the clay-courter qualifier,Cadantu.  Cadantu had to fight to beat Begu, who eventually appeared to beat herself.  Cadantu starts around the 1.65 price, having been backed in from 1.84.  It appears the market struggles to price matches involving Peer, with her level often differing wildly, and it’s no surprise that few punters have little faith in her these days.  Having said all that, I’m not sure whether 1.65 offers value on the Romanian - she had an arduous 2 hour 24 minute match yesterday against Begu, so she may be a little tired.  I’d want to try and get a bigger price on her - at the very least a touch over evens - before I’d get involved.

Peer’s match vs Craybas had 8 breaks from 16 games, and there were a whopping 18 breaks in 29 games between Cadantu and Begu, and with both players predicted service hold a touch over 50%, I’d say we were in for similar today too.  I’d look to lay the server in the opening few service games, and then lay the player a break up in the first set as soon as the break was achieved.  This match could be very swingy.

 

If Peer takes the first set, I’d lay her.  Her record when a set up is awful.  If Cadantu can take the first set, I wouldn’t oppose her.  Peer is not renowned for her ability to fight back.  Cadantu should have the edge in any decider - Peer again is way below average in this scenario.  I feel that unless Cadantu is visibly fatigued, laying Peer whenever she is in front should prove lucrative.

 

Another match I’m looking forward to, first up in Casablanca, is the match between the highly inconsistent Paire and the ageing Robredo.  This, again, is a match where I’d expect a good few breaks.  Paire and Bedene shared ten in 29 games on Tuesday, and this could be very similar - although I was slightly surprised with the ease Robredo disposed of Kamke in the previous round.  Robredo starts as slight favourite, and I’d struggle to dispute that although the mercurial talent that is Paire could easily take this. Robredo definitely needs to take the first set to win this - he has a terrible record making comebacks but is very strong - he’s won 93% of matches that he’s taken the first set in the last 12 months - when in front.  Paire has a decent record when behind though, so if Robredo takes the first set, the match is not a foregone conclusion.  It’s also worth noting Robredo is due to play qualifiers for Monte-Carlo tomorrow, so perhaps he may not be 100% motivated.  Also I must say if I was a player in the quarter-finals of an ATP event, I’d go for the title as opposed to trying to qualify for an event I know I wouldn’t go far in.

 

There appear to be a few decent entry points here.  I’m laying the player that can get a break up in the first set.  That’s fairly standard in matches involving Paire.  I’ll look to green-up if the break-back occurs.  I’ll also lay Robredo if he gets a set and break up.  Paire came back from this deficit against Bedene in the previous round and it’s a very low risk, high reward entry point.  Also I’d favour Paire in a deciding set, depending on the price.  I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to back Paire outright in this deciding set, but I’ll most likely get involved if he goes a break down in the decider.

Paire’s good friend and doubles partner, Wawrinka, is second on court against Garcia-Lopez.  Wawrinka starts as a 1.17 favourite, and if he plays as he did in the second half of his match against Kavcic, he will have no problems justifying that.  However, he was very poor for the first half, and is still plagued by inconsistency.  I’m not a backer at that price, although I feel he will come through eventually.

 

If the Swiss takes the first set, he should comfortably win this.  Garcia-Lopez is another player that isn’t renowned for his ‘bouncebackability’.  If Garcia-Lopez does manage to get his nose in front, I’ll probably lay him at either a break up in the first set, a set up, or a set and a break up.  Also another entry point could be  if he serves for the match - he’s not the strongest mentally.  A few options here, although I wouldn’t go overboard on the stakes.

 

Zemlja v Anderson will probably be a little less swingy than many matches today.  Anderson’s strong serve and fairly limited, although improving, return game, usually means this is the case.  He starts as a 1.3 favourite.  Zemlja still struggles for consistency, as witnessed in the first set yesterday against Laaksonen.  I’m not sure 1.3 is justified here.  Anderson is no mug on clay, as I stated yesterday, but I think this is too short.

 

If Anderson can take the first set, I would recommend a very cheap lay of him.  Zemlja comes back from a set down way above average, and he is very strong in deciding sets (81% success in the last 12 months).  Anderson is pretty average in deciders too, so that could be another entry point.

 

The final match in Morocco is between two inconsistent players in Haase and Klizan.  Both these players’ matches tend to have good swings in them.  I’m quite surprised to see Klizan priced at 1.57, my serve and receive stats make Haase a slight favourite.  In the last 12 months on clay, Haase has held 76.5% of the time compared to Klizan’s 72.9%, and has broken 28.8% to 27.1%.  With the well-known inconsistencies with Haase, and his previous hatred of this tournament, I make this a 50/50 match.  Definitely no value on the Slovak.  In his match yesterday against Volandri, he never looked in total control despite being in front for the majority of it.

 

Both players’ serve should come under pressure in this match.  The tournament is featuring more breaks than an average clay tournament, and both have above average break of serve stats.  Klizan looked vulnerable in most of his service games yesterday.  I’m looking at laying either player if they take a break lead in the first set.  If Klizan takes the first set, he should cruise.  Haase has won only three of 27 matches in the last 12 months when a set down.  That’s why I’d prefer backing the 2-0 scoreline for Klizan, and getting the higher odds, than the outright win.  If Haase gets a set and break up, it would be rude not to lay him.  Especially if he is serving for the match.  Both players have similar records in deciding sets.

 

I’m only going to look at the first two matches in Houston, the ones which are scheduled before midnight UK time.  

 

First up at 6pm is Williams v Ramirez-Hidalgo.  Both players are in fairly uncharted territory in an ATP quarter finals.  Ramirez-Hidalgo should be more at home on the surface, but Williams is in his own country.  Ramirez-Hidalgo starts slight favourite at around 1.83.  

 

Ramirez-Hidalgo, as I’ve mentioned previously this week, has a very weak serve and I’m surprised Verdasco didn’t enjoy that as much yesterday, despite his real lack of form.  However, Williams, although I haven’t seen much of him yet, seems to have quite weak return stats so Ramirez-Hidalgo may enjoy a few more service holds than he is used to.  Karlovic managed 28 aces, I believe, against Williams yesterday.

 

If Williams can take the first set, I’d expect him to make his first ATP semi-final.  Ramirez-Hidalgo has awful records when a set down and in a deciding set.  If Ramirez-Hidalgo manages to get in front, there may be very slight value laying him due to his poor record as a leader.  I’d be very surprised if Williams lost a deciding set.

 

The last preview of the day is Almagro versus the in-form Lorenzi.  Almagro, as predicted, didn’t do it easily once again yesterday, against the Frenchman, Monfils.  Lorenzi had a straight sets win over Cipolla.  Whilst I expect the Spaniard to win, I wouldn’t back him at 1.15 with borrowed money.  If you want an extremely long-odds punt, I’d consider the odds of around 11 on Lorenzi to win 2-0.  He has a superb record when a set up, winning 34 and losing just 2 (94%) in the last 12 months, and Almagro’s record a set down is nothing special.  Almagro backers may also want the better odds that a 2-0 scoreline offers, with Paddy Power offering a generous 1.50 on this outcome.  Lorenzi doesn’t do well from a set down.  However, he has a superb deciding set record winning 75% of matches in this scenario in the last 12 months.  With Almagro having a swingy 3-setter yesterday, this may be a good entry point if the match goes that far.  If Lorenzi can get a break up in the first set, I’d look to lay him as well.  His weak serve may come under pressure against Almagro.  

 

As always, good luck with your trading and I hope you enjoyed the previews.

 

Thursday Review:-

 

Although I didn’t manage as many trades as I would like, for various reasons, I had another good day yesterday.

 

Bertens v Vinci gave us a positive start to the day - Bertens traded as low as 1.4 (from 2.6) after an excellent start to the match, taking the first set.  Vinci came back into the encounter though and eventually took the win.  I did manage two profitable service lays of Vinci in the final set when she was a break up.  

 

My prediction of breaks in the Begu v Cadantu match proved spot on as there were 18 breaks in 29 games (62%)!  Whilst my assertion that Begu would win if she took the first set, and being stronger in a decider proved incorrect, she still traded at a very low price at 3-1 up in the final set, and I made good profit trading the breaks in the first set.  It’s not always important to be ‘absolutely right’, which is why some punters cannot get their head around trading.  As a fairly risk-averse trader, I tend to profit take if the profit reaches an acceptable level.  Leaving a bet to run on a player when they are lower than 1.2 and you’ve backed them near evens is a very high-risk, low-reward strategy.

 

Fixed-odds punters would have been pleased with my tip of taking the 1.6 about Peer, who never looked in much trouble against Craybas.  If I recall correctly, she didn’t trade much (if at all) above her starting price.  I did lose a little laying Peer after the first set, but this was a tiny loss in-play.

Kvitova came back from a break deficit in the match against the weak-serving Minella, which should have got followers some fairly small profit.  She was available to back at 1.35 at 4-2 down (Her price peaked around 1.5) and she ended up taking the set 7-5, at which point she was trading well below 1.1.  

 

Laaksonen was broken in the first game of the first set against Zemlja, and I decided not to lay Zemlja straight away.  He did break back, so a missed opportunity there.  The rest of the match was fairly uneventful, and I didn’t find an entry point that suited me.  It’s vital that you don’t look for action, and if opportunities don’t present themselves, then just move on.

 

As predicted, the match between Volandri and Klizan featured breaks, and I did very well from this, as the players traded breaks almost at will in the first set.  I left the second set alone.

 

I laid Haase against De Schepper when a set and break up.  I felt that a lay at 1.1 was a good entry point opposing a notoriously bad choker in pressure points.  Indeed, there were several opportunities to exit with significant profit, and De Schepper had break points and a good look at several of Haase’s service games (Haase traded at around 1.3 at one point after this) but the Frenchman didn’t manage to convert several opportunities and I didn’t exit my trade for a small loss.

 

Houston was a bit of a farce.  There were sporadic live score updates and no streaming.  I didn’t bother with it.  I was too cautious and cynical to believe any scores being tweeted, although they were actually correct.

 

Thursday, April 11th, 2013.

 

Update: Karlovic has replaced the withdrawn Querrey in Houston.

 

Karlovic now faces Williams in this round of 16 match.  As we all should know, Karlovic is a strong server with a very limited return game.  He has not played well at all this year, winning 42% of main draw matches (compared to 52% lifetime), including some defeats against poor players.  As the news has just broken, no odds are available yet but I think Williams has a chance of taking this.

 

Karlovic has an absolutely appalling record in the last 12 months of coming back to win from a set down, winning only one of 19 matches from this scenario (5%).  His record in deciding sets is not much better, winning only one of nine (11%).  Even a set up, he has only won 76% of the time which is just not good enough.  

 

This is likely to be fairly close, though, with few breaks and probably a tiebreak at some point.  If Karlovic takes the first set, I’ll look to lay him, and I’ll do the same in any deciding set.  

 

Thursday Previews:-

 

To start the previews, I thought I’d include some interesting statistics from the first round matches this week.  

 

As I mentioned previously, the average 2012 clay service hold percent is 75.6%.  In the first round matches in Casablanca, the service hold percent was only 71.62%.  However, in Houston, it’s above average at 76.92% (not including Alund v Hewitt as I don’t have the match statistics for that match).  So do trading service games need to be treated a little differently in each tournament?  I’m not so sure.  I’d say that the players in Houston possibly have a slightly better average service hold percent than the ones in Casablanca, so that could be where the difference lies.

 

The WTA service hold percent for clay is 61.3%.  The Katowice field features a fair few weak servers, but still is above average in the first round, with 66.49% of service games being held.  This is probably due to the effect of the matches being indoors, leading to conditions being slightly quicker than an outdoor clay event.

 

In the early match in KatowiceBertens takes on Vinci.  Vinci had an easy victory yesterday when Hlavackova retired early in the second set, only winning 2 games.  Bertens had an impressive 6-1, 6-1 win over Arruabarena on Tuesday, so will be well rested.  Bertens could offer some value for fixed-odds punters, currently at around the 2.6x mark, as has a good record on clay in the last 12 months, winning eight and losing four of her 12 main draw matches.  Vinci, despite many thinking that she should be good on clay, has a 50% winning record from her 16 matches on clay.  Bertens’ clay serve hold and return statistics are also a little better than her Italian opponent, as well, holding 67.5% compared to 64.7%, and breaking 45.8% compared to 38.7%.  These excellent return stats from Bertens could see her put Vinci’s serve under a fair bit of pressure.

 

In the last 12 months, Bertens has some good victories when a set up against opponents when she has started with a price over 2.5, including three in her run to the title on clay in Fes in April 2012.  She has also beaten much higher ranked Safarova (twice), McHale, Barthel and Cibulkova from this scenario.  So if she takes the first set, I wouldn’t want to oppose her.  Her record a set down is above average, as well, including comeback victories over Kuznetsova and Petrova.  In the last 12 months, she also has a 13-5 record (72%) in deciding sets, so she looks very strong here.  

 

In comparison, Vinci’s stats seem much more mediocre - pretty much average when she wins the first set, and loses the first set, and she has a below average record in deciding sets.  Whilst I’m on that point, that’s something that tends to be prevalent amongst many prominent doubles players that also play singles.  

 

Unless there’s a clear difference in levels, I’m looking to lay Vinci if she can get in front in this match.  I’ll lay her at a break up in the first set, again if she takes the first set, and again if she goes a set and break up at any time.  I’ll also be looking to back Bertens if there’s a deciding set.

 

The second match in Katowice is between Begu and Cadantu.  Clay is Cadantu’s favourite surface, and it definitely brings these two player’s level closer - on hard court Begu would be a very strong favourite.  However here, she starts at 1.75.  Both player’s clay service hold averages are in the mid-low 50s, quite a bit below WTA average.  Therefore I’d expect plenty of breaks in this.  If Begu takes the first set, I’d expect her to see the match out with a win.  Her record when winning the first set is good, and Cadantu’s when a set down isn’t.  If Cadantu took the first set and got a break up, I’d probably look to get a cheap lay in on her.  Begu’s deciding set record gives her a marginal edge.

 

Craybas’ match against Peer is fascinating because one player that probably shouldn’t even be here will make the quarter-finals.  Peer is here via a lucky loser spot from qualifying, and Craybas benefitted from Goerges’ retirement.  The price of around 1.6 on Peer really appeals to me from a pre-match standpoint.  Craybas was a bigger price than this in her first qualifying round match against Sandra Zahlavova.  I feel this price is a big over-reaction from the win gifted to her by Goerges - Craybas didn’t impress me at all in that.  

 

I’d expect plenty of breaks here - both players have below average service stats and Peer tends to be a fairly streaky player as well.  Peer tends to perform poorly when a set up - only winning 71% in the last 12 months and 76% of her last 50 matches.  However, Craybas tends to need to take the first set to win the match - her comeback record is unimpressive and her deciding set record, unsurprisingly for a woman of her age, is not good at all.  If Craybas wins the first set, I won’t oppose her.  Peer has only won 10% of matches where she goes a set down in the last 12 months.  If Peer wins the first set, I might lay her for a small stake.  She doesn’t tend to do things easily these days.  Peer also has a mediocre deciding set record, I’d probably just about favour her in this situation.  

 

A theoretically one-sided match between Kvitova and Minella finishes off the action in Poland today.  Kvitova had a fairly close win over Doi in the last round, although she was never in much danger.  She was reported to be ill before that match, so to come through in straight sets must have pleased her.  With so many seeds falling here, Kvitova must know that she has a real chance for a title.  She starts as 1.12 favourite in this match.  Minella’s weak serve should be exposed by Kvitova - my model indicates she has a predicted 51.7% hold here.  If Minella somehow does take the first set, I’ll look to lay her unless there’s something clearly wrong with Kvitova.  Interestingly, Minella has the edge when comparing deciding set records.  

 

Today’s early match in Casablanca features Zemlja and Laaksonen.  The Swiss player, Laaksonen, had a hard-earned 3 set win over world 923 Rachidi in the first round, including giving his serve away 3 times.  So clearly that was not an impressive victory over a player who would most likely be embarrassed in Challenger events.  Zemlja has been backed from 1.57 to 1.38, with Pinnacle Sports, so it appears I’m not alone in that assessment.  Zemlja is pretty new to main draw ATP matches on clay, having won 2 out of only 4 in his career, and the tight 3 set victory over Bachinger in the first round was one of the two.  In ATP clay qualifiers his record is won 6, lost 8, and in Challengers on clay he has won 8, lost 4.  I’d expect that to be too much for Laaksonen in the end.

 

Both players aren’t the strongest servers, but their return stats (in the case of Laaksonen, very limited sample size) are pretty average.  If Laaksonen was to get in front, by a break in the first set, I’d look to lay him.  Zemlja’s record from a set down is very impressive, winning 11 out of 30 in the last 12 months.  Indeed, he did just that in the last round against Bachinger.  However, Laaksonen also impresses when a set up, so we need to be cautious of laying him for too much money if he takes the first set.  Zemlja’s record in deciding sets is one of the best I’ve seen for a while - he has won 17 of 21 in the last 12 months.  Another possible entry point - but again we need to consider that in Challengers in the last 12 months, Laaksonen has managed to win 76% of deciders himself.

 

The next match in Casablanca is between Carreno-Busta and Anderson.  Carreno-Busta has now won 39 matches in a row - 38 on the third tier ITF tour, and then his close victory against the very out of form Andujar in the first round.  I find Anderson slightly under-rated on clay - he definitely isn’t as bad as some people think.  I think that a fair few pundits and gamblers fall into the trap of categorising a player as an expert on a single surface - I know I’ve done well opposing that view on players like Ferrer on Hard Courts and also Grass where he comfortably beat Del Potro last year at Wimbledon.  Last year on clay, Anderson beat clay-court specialists Joao Souza, Delbonis, Machado and Zeballos, so he clearly is no mug on the surface.  He also beat Sam Querrey in his home country, in Houston.  My scenario research shows there’s not that much between the players at various different entry points - I’ll probably lay Carreno-Busta if he gets in front in the first set, and I’ll probably lay either player for very small stakes if they get a set and a break up.  Not a lot going on here in-play, although I wouldn’t discourage readers from taking the 1.55 on offer pre-match on the South African.  He has been playing well lately, and this will be another step up for the young Spaniard.  

 

Volandri v Klizan features two clay-courters, although Klizan has had some success last year on other surfaces.  However, he has struggled this season.  Klizan starts as a strong 1.6 favourite, having opened at 1.8 - so it looks like the market is favouring the Slovakian.  Both players have serve hold percentages below average on clay, despite it being their favoured surface.  So we can expect to see a few breaks in this match.  For this match-up, my model has both their serve hold percentages at a shade under 70%.   I’d look to lay either player when a break up in the first set, especially Volandri.  I’m not sure his serve will stand up too well against much resistance.  Against Mathieu in the last round, he was broken 4 out of 10 service games, and still managed to win in straight sets!  

 

Volandri’s record when a set up is atrocious.  One of the worst on tour.  Whilst Klizan is nothing special regarding his comeback record, I’d still lay the Italian if he can take the first set.  If Klizan takes the first set I would expect him to win, I wouldn’t oppose him in this spot.  Both players aren’t the best in deciding sets, but Volandri is especially bad in this situation.  Advantage Klizan in this spot.

 

The last match in Morocco is between Haase and the big-serving Frenchman, De Schepper.  De Schepper is relatively inexperienced in main ATP tour matches, so we don’t have a lot of stats to go on in this regard.  However, he’s a Challenger Tour regular, and we can make an assessment on his chances based on that.  On that subject, I’ve done a lot of back-testing regarding a player moving from Challenger to ATP tour, or qualifiers to main draw matches, and I’ve found multipliers for both ATP and WTA that you can apply reliably to a player’s serve and return stats to get an accurate prediction of how they may fare in the higher level.  

 

In Challengers in the last year, De Schepper only won one of five, holding serve an unremarkable 73.8% of the time.  On Hard Court, he held 85.5% of service games, and on indoor, where he is dominant at that level, he holds a superb 93.0% of games.  I feel that despite his reputation as a strong server, he may come unstuck today against Haase who I rate to be better on clay than hard surfaces, although he is still mentally very weak.  Haase starts at 1.55 and may be a good back-to-lay trade if you take his starting price and get out if he takes the first set.  

 

Having said that, De Schepper’s record from a set down is nothing to write home about.  Where he excels is taking the first set, winning a superb 92% of matches when a set up in the last 12 months.  So perhaps if punters fancy backing De Schepper here, they may be interested in the 2-0 scoreline given Haase’s lack of ability to come back from a set down to win.  De Schepper slightly edges the deciding set records.  Possibly not the best match to trade given situations, overall.

 

The evening matches are in Houston, where they are playing catch-up after yesterday’s rain.  Thunder is forecast there until midday (6pm UK time) and that’s when the matches start, so perhaps there may be a slight delay.  Forecast is good after midday there.

 

Querrey’s mental state has been questioned after he was demolished in the final two sets by a badly injured Djokovic in the Davis Cup at the weekend.  How determined will he be to go deep in this tournament?  Last year he was beaten by Kevin Anderson here in this round.  Today he faces Williams, who is starting to make a little more of an impression in the tennis world, having improved his ranking from just under 400 to 144 in the last year.  However, he’s only ever played 7 main draw ATP matches, and has only won two of them.  I think personally the 1.45 about Querrey is fairly generous, given the difference in ability and experience of the two, but mental doubts prevent me from backing this outcome pre-match.  

 

In a similar scenario to the rained off match last night between Isner and Sock, this match has a strong serving player in the top 20 against a young, up and coming American.  I don’t expect there to be many breaks in this match.  Querrey has an excellent record in the last 12 months when a set down, winning a superb 39% of these occasions, most times against stronger opponents than Williams.  I’ll be looking at laying Williams if he takes the first set, unless Querrey is clearly uninterested.  Both players have a good deciding set record, especially Querrey.  Another good entry point could be if Williams gets a break up in the final set, or is serving for the match.  It would be a big win for him, and he may be overawed.  He has never beaten a top 50 player, in 4 attempts.  Let alone a top 20 player.

 

Ramirez-Hidalgo’s match with Verdasco is one of those matches where I’m a fan of neither player.  As I mentioned yesterday, Ramirez-Hidalgo has had huge issues with the step up to main tour level, and was perhaps lucky he met someone with scheduling deficiencies in Devvarman.  Verdasco has been in a terrible run of form, although he beat the young American, Johnson, in straight sets in the first round.  Verdasco starts as favourite, around the 1.33 mark, and whilst I don’t rate Ramirez-Hidalgo at all, I’m not sure I’d want to back Verdasco at this price.  If Ramirez-Hidalgo can get a break up in the first set, I’ll lay him in the hope that Verdasco can get a good look at his weak serve, and green up if he can break back.  Both players are far stronger being in front than behind, so if Verdasco can take the first set, he should wrap this up in straight sets.  It’s worth noting that Ramirez-Hidalgo has terrible records coming back from a set deficit, and also in a deciding set, where I’d make Verdasco a heavy favourite.

 

In what should be an entertaining match held over from yesterday, Almagro takes on Monfils.  Monfils hasn’t pulled up any trees since his return to action, and Almagro is rightly favourite for this, on his favourite surface.  However, I wouldn’t want to be taking 1.27 on Almagro, as he rarely does things easily and he is against an opponent - who if his mind is on - can play some exceptional tennis.  However, Monfils’ serve hold percentage drops about 5-6% from hard or indoor to clay - 72.4% in the last 12 months (only 7 matches though) so if he gets in front in the first set, I’ll lay him and hopefully the Spaniard can get the break back and I can green up.  

 

Almagro, though, has a very poor record when a set down, so I definitely wouldn’t oppose the Frenchman if he can nick the first set. Monfils has a far better deciding set record overall, although I’m not sure how fit he may be in the final set if this is a long encounter.  Anyone looking to back him in a decider should keep stakes small, in my opinion.

 

The last match before midnight isn’t streamed, but I’ll do a small write-up on it anyway.  I’m fairly unlikely to worry about trading this match.  In it, Ginepri faces Alund.  Alund is more of a natural on this surface, and had a good win over Hewitt, who was probably struggling after his journey from Uzbekistan.  Ginepri had a facile win over Russell in the round of 32, although there were rumours Russell was suffering from illness in that match.  Alund has the better surface serve stats, although Ginepri seems to break serve more often.  There shouldn’t be a great deal in this match.  Alund starts as favourite, at around 1.75.

 

Ginepri has a pretty poor record when a set up - only winning 70% of his matches in the last 12 months from this scenario.  It’s also important to note that many of these will have been in the lower Challenger Tour, against worse opponents, as well.  Therefore if he takes the first set, I’d advise laying him and hoping that, as has often happened in the past, he runs out of steam.  Alund came from a set down yesterday to beat Hewitt, and I feel this would be a good entry point.  Perhaps with a player of Alund’s inexperience, though, it may not be a good idea leaving trades running for too long.  Maybe just get out if he can get that break in front.  Alund marginally shades the deciding set records.

 

That’s it for today, as always, I hope you enjoyed visiting the site today and good luck with what you decide to bet and trade on.

 

Wednesday Review:-

 

I had a pretty successful day trading yesterday so hopefully followers did too.

 

I managed to get a lay in of Haase when he went 3-1 up in the final set.  He quickly gifted the break back to Bautista-Agut and that was excellent, quick, profit.  Haase eventually won the match, breaking Bautista’s final service game to take the set 7-5.

 

Camerin v Zakopalova was slight profit for me.  Zakopalova appeared to have the set under control after giving up an early break, which she cancelled quickly with a break of her own.  She raced into a 4-1 lead, but then a run of games for Camerin found her serving for the first set - I did a very quick trade laying Camerin when she was serving for the first set, and got out when Zakopalova had two break points, if I recall correctly.  Camerin did recover to take the first set 7-5.  I didn’t get involved in the second set, fearful of Camerin’s decent record converting winning positions, although I did get involved in the final set.  I recommended backing Zakopalova in a final set, and you’d have had ample opportunity to create profit as she quickly got into a 3-1 lead.  However, in an almost carbon copy of the first set, she threw this lead away and found herself 5-3 down, with Camerin serving for the match.  I again laid Camerin and indeed could have taken slight profit at 15-30 in this service game, but I held on and lost a fair amount of the green I’d already earnt when Camerin served out the match.  Still a profit though.

 

I didn’t get involved in the Lino v Beck match as much as I’d have wanted.  With it not being streamed, the liquidity in the markets wasn’t fantastic.  I did lay Lino at a set up and took decent profit when Beck was several games to the good in the second set.  

 

I did take a bit of a loss on the Kanepi v Pliskova match.  I felt Kanepi could get back into the match in the second set and laid Pliskova around the 1.75 mark, for small stakes.  I then also laid her when serving for the match, trying to ‘average down’ my average lay price.  Both trades were losers.

I got into some trouble in the Wawrinka v Kavcic match, closing out for a very small loss, thankfully.  I laid Kavcic when he went a break up in the first set, and had to red-out when he took the set.  Wawrinka wasn’t playing at all fluently, varying the length on his shots badly - he was hitting a lot of shots too long and then because of these unforced errors, starting hitting too short which was sitting up nicely for Kavcic to hit winners off.  Kavcic went a break up in the second set as well, and I again laid him at a low price.  A bad service game from him where he hit several unforced errors and a double fault helped Wawrinka to break back, where I closed my position.  After this break, helped by some vociferous crowd support, Wawrinka played some top tennis and was clearly much the superior player.  I left the match alone when it was clear Wawrinka was dominant.

 

Paire, yet again, showed all his flaws, and all his talent in his victory over Bedene.  He was playing some sublime drop shots, but not for the first time, he was in racket smashing form, as he threw away a break lead in the first set to lose it, and fall a break behind in the second set.  The first set was excellent for me, as the players traded break leads.  I backed Paire also at a set and a break down, and he quickly recovered the break loss and again I greened out at this point.  I also had a small interest on him in the final set.  My best result of the day.

 

I lost on the Robredo v Kamke match.  I laid Robredo when he took a break lead at 3-2 in the first set.  Kamke was playing quite inconsistently, though, as we all know he can, and I was forced to close my position with a loss, when Robredo served out the first set.  Yet again he won when he took the first set.  The 2-0 dutching of scorelines would have shown a profit - Robredo was available at 2.38 for the 2-0 victory.

 

I’m presuming Devvarman showed his travel-related fatigue in his bad 7-6, 6-0 loss to Ramirez-Hidalgo.  The match wasn’t streamed, although I managed several trades.  I laid Ramirez-Hidalgo at 5-1 up in the first set, and drip backed myself into a decent position when Devvarman broke, and then broke again to level the set.  I lost about half of my green when I laid Ramirez-Hidalgo at 3-0 up in the second set, but still a reasonable result - I kept stakes small.

 

Another player showing predictable travel-related fatigue, that I highlighted in my preview, was Hewitt against Alund.  Against his inexperienced opponent, Hewitt took a first set lead.  I had one trade on this match, laying Hewitt when he took a one-set lead, and closing my position when he was broken quickly in the second set.  I didn’t touch the final set.

 

I didn’t trade the later matches in Houston, which were affected by rain.  Cipolla and Lorenzi was interrupted at 2-3 in the first set, on serve.  All other matches were postponed until today.

 

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013.

 

Tuesday Review:-

 

In the first match between Andujar and Carreno-Busta, it was clear that Andujar was still struggling with his game.  Carreno-Busta took the first set 6-4, breaking twice, including the crucial early break that gave us a winning start.  Andujar, to his credit, fought back and surprisingly took the second set to level matters.  Carreno-Busta raced into a double-break 5-2 lead in the third set, and wasted several match points in his first service game, which Andujar broke back eventually.  Some wayward shots from Andujar meant Carreno-Busta held in his second service game to close out the match.

Ginepri also broke Russell in his first service game, giving us a big green to start the match.  Unfortunately, without the live video, it was impossible to see that Russell was playing below par (apparently he had food poisoning) and our fairly cheap lay of Ginepri a set up came to nothing.  

 

Berankis didn’t get the first-set lead over Levine, so the short-priced back opportunity never materialised.  It was pleasing, however, to see him take the deciding set, continuing Levine’s final set misery.  In fact the third set could have been easier for Berankis had he not wasted numerous chances to close out the match.  

 

I also watched a couple of womens matches.  Kanepi’s return from injury against Zaniewska (also returning from a 4 month absence) was highly impressive.  She looks a little fitter than previously and was way too strong for her opponent.  Goerges, on the other hand, was anything but impressive against Craybas.  She took the first set despite playing terribly, making a huge number of unforced errors.  She can be a very frustrating player if you are on her side, which I’m on less and less these days.  If she was playing against someone a little better than the veteran American, she would have been on the wrong end of a convincing 2-set defeat.  Craybas turned the match around despite the apparent difference of levels and won when her good friend retired 4-1 down in the final set.

 

Wednesday previews:-

 

I had to go out this morning so unfortunately missed the early matches, which now includes Haase yet again throwing away a first set lead.  That’s not after-timing, he’s notorious for this!  Laying him in these spots is super-standard against almost any opponent.  The final set has just started, and I’ll be looking to lay Haase if he can get a break up in the final set.  His record in these is a lot worse than Bautista-Agut, and Haase is also notorious for choking when under a bit of pressure.

 

In Katowice, the next match to be streamed should be the Camerin v Zakopalova match.  Both players are poor servers so we should see plenty of breaks in this.  Zakopalova starts around the 1.2 mark, a price that I feel is probably about right.  I’ll be looking to see if I can get a bigger price on her if Camerin can get her nose in front with a break in the first set.  Laying either player a break up in the first set wouldn’t be the worst strategy in the world as well.  Camerin has a good record when a set up, beating many players ranked higher than her, often as an underdog.  However, she really struggles when down a set and also in deciders.  So I wouldn’t expect any remarkable comebacks from her here.  If this does go to a third set, I’ll definitely be siding with Zakopalova, depending on the price.  

 

Lino v Beck should also feature plenty of breaks as well.  Lino’s match v Robson featured a good few swings so hopefully we can see some here too.  Lino starts as 1.65 favourite, with Beck around the 2.4 mark.  Both players are a long way below average when a set up, so I can see this possibly going to 3 sets.  Both have an excellent record coming back from a set down, with Beck’s in particular is superb (although featuring many matches from the lower ITF tour).  I’d expect Lino to get the job done in the end though, and she does have a superior third set record.  This match should provide some good opportunities to get some cheap lays in of players in winning positions, and that’s what I’ll be looking to do here.

 

Kanepi, as I mentioned earlier, was very impressive yesterday, and if she can keep that level up against the, in my opinion, better Pliskova sister, Karolina, she will record a facile victory.  I’ll be looking to get on Kanepi at any point where I can get a decent bit bigger than the starting price, which is around the 1.4 mark.  Because of her injury worries, I won’t go overboard on the stakes here though.  

 

The last three matches in Casablanca are all streamed, with the tournament top seed Wawrinka looking likely to be able to have some success against the weak serve of Kavcic.  He starts as a 1.15 favourite, so whilst this won’t be something that I will be taking on initially, if I can get a fair bit bigger than this in the first set then I’ll be looking to get involved.  Having said this, Wawrinka does have a tendency not to be that solid from winning positions and is no stranger to buckling under pressure too - so it’s important not to let winning trades last too long here.  If he takes the first set with Kavcic playing to a reasonable level I’ll look to get a very low priced lay of Wawrinka at that point.  Kavcic interestingly has the better deciding set record, so that could also be another potential entry point.  Certainly a lay of Wawrinka if he gets a break up in the final set could be a low-risk, high-reward opportunity.

 

In the next match, traders favourite Paire takes on clay specialist Bedene.  For those of you who are unaware, Paire is a favourite of mine and many other tennis traders because he is only consistent at being inconsistent.  Not many of his matches feature a train where he goes from starting price to 1.01 in straightforward fashion.  I do really like him though, he does have talent and has great personality which you definitely can’t say about all of the players on tour.  Starting prices are fairly even here, with Bedene slight favourite at around 1.9.  Both players should hold serve slightly less than average, so looking to lay them in winning positions in the first set could prove lucrative.  Despite his inconsistency, if Paire takes the first set he tends to get the job done eventually.  He has beaten many higher-ranked players after taking the first set, and has an excellent return on investment in this scenario.  However, both players here have an above average record coming back from a set down, so a possible entry point would be to lay the winner of the first set, with a view to trading out if your player breaks to lead the second set.  I wouldn’t advise a long running trade in this match.  Paire has much the stronger deciding set record.

 

In today’s final match in Casablanca, Robredo takes on Kamke, with the Spaniard a solid 1.57 favourite.  It’s easy to be deceived by Robredo’s positive record when a set up.  In the last 12 months, he’s won 29 out of 31 from this scenario.  However, many of these were in Challengers including in his great run in the early summer of last year.  Having said that, Kamke has one of the worst records on tour coming back from a set down and I can’t see that changing much here.  I was impressed, though, with how straightforwardly he beat Melzer in the last round, so perhaps the recent victory over Del Potro has signalled a change in Kamke.  I’ll still look to lay Kamke in the first set if he can get a break in front.  Robredo, despite his age, has a slightly better deciding set record than Kamke.  If you like a fixed-odds bet, I’d recommend dutching the 2-0 scorelines here with both players much stronger a set up than coming back from a set down.  

 

The first two matches in Houston feature players who have made extremely arduous journeys to participate in the tournament.  BothDevvarman and Hewitt played Davis Cup matches in India and Uzbekistan respectively, and have had to spend in excess of twenty hours travelling to America.  This clearly puts them in a condition which is clearly less than optimal, despite the extra day or two rest granted to them by the tournament organisers.  Personally I feel that a player’s scheduling deficiences should not be indulged by tournament organisers, although I fully understand the commercial decisions as to why this is the case.

 

Devvarman’s opponent is clay-court ‘specialist’ Ramirez-Hidalgo.  I have specialist in inverted commas, because whilst clay is overwhelmingly the Spaniard’s favourite surface, his game is still very limited at the ATP level.  Indeed, he has only won two of 17 main draw matches in the last 12 months, and his record on clay, despite it being his favourite surface, stands at zero wins in eight attempts.  Both players have weak serves, but unlike most weak-serving players, at the ATP level, Ramirez-Hidalgo also breaks less than expectation (12.9% on clay and 15% on all surfaces in the last 12 months).  I can see why he struggles to win matches!  There has been huge pre-match movement here, with Devvarman being backed in big numbers - he opened with Pinnacle Sports at 3.31, and is currently trading at 1.78.   If it wasn’t for the travel issue, I’d be looking to get on Devvarman here at pretty much any opportunity.  Because of this, I will be keeping my stakes fairly small and being a touch more circumspect with my entry points.  If Ramirez Hidalgo takes the first set, I’ll struggle to keep my mouse cursor away from the lay button.  Devvarman has a huge edge in deciding sets, but how much will the travel and time zone adjustments affect him?

 

Hewitt’s opponent is the Argentine clay courter, Alund, who at the age of 27, appears to be trying to make a late breakthrough.  Hewitt starts as favourite, around the 1.6 mark.   I feel that if Hewitt is to win this, he will need to take the first set.  His comeback prowess in the past has been well noted - he is a superb fighter.  However, I’m not so sure I’d trust him to make a comeback in this match.  Usually I’d look to back him in a deciding set, especially as he is playing a player who may be slightly overawed by playing a legend, but, as with Devvarman, who knows if the travel will affect him?  Keep stakes small again here.

 

The final match that I’m interested in features two weak servers, in Cipolla and Lorenzi.  Cipolla came back from a set down and 5-2 down in the final set against Arguello yesterday.  If I recall correctly Arguello traded at a low of 1.03 in that match.  Lorenzi starts as a strong favourite, at around 1.35.  I’ll be looking to get on him if he goes a break down in the first set. Both players are extremely strong converting winning positions.  So a comeback from either player seems unlikely.  In fact, the difference between Lorenzi’s winning when won first set record, and Cipolla’s when lost first set record is one of the biggest that I’ve ever seen, leading me to believe that it’s worth getting the better odds and backing the 2-0 scoreline in Lorenzi’s favour if you feel he represents value pre-match.  Both players have positive deciding set records, with Lorenzi shading it.  

 

The final match in Houston is unlikely to feature many swings.  It’s an all-American affair, with Isner facing Sock.  Isner’s strong serve and limited return game means that naturally I would expect a close scoreline.  Whilst Isner hasn’t been in great form lately, I’d expect him to take this.  Sock has improved a great deal lately but I’d still be surprised if he could get the win.  

 

As always, good luck with whatever you decide to bet or trade on.

 

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013.

 

A long absence!  I have a lot more time now that I can devote to the website and to my tennis writing.  I’ve also been doing a lot of work researching various in-play scenarios. 

 

We have 3 tournaments this week.  The ATP is running two 250 events in Houston, America, and Casablanca, Morocco.  The WTA has one tournament this week, a new International tournament in Katowice, Poland.  All three tournaments are played on clay, with the women’s tournament in Katowice played on indoor clay, due to the very cold temperatures currently in Poland.

 

One common misconception about clay courts is the higher propensity for players to break serve.  Whilst this is true, it’s only to a very slight extent.  This is possibly due to the slower hard courts these days.  So please don’t do anything silly like blindly laying players’ service games because that’s a strategy that won’t work.  However, doing things like this selectively, as a balanced strategy, may prove worthwhile.

 

On twitter yesterday, I tweeted some statistics to prove my point.  

 

In the ATP in 2012, the main draw service hold % for clay was 75.6%.  On hard, it was 78.4%, and on indoor 79.2%.  So you can see that there is only a marginal difference between the surfaces.  Some tennis websites (including tipping ones) are making this out to be a big difference, and it’s clearly not.  

 

In the WTA in 2012, there is even less of a difference.  There are few indoor hard tournaments so I didn’t include those in the sample, but the main draw service hold % for clay was 61.3%.  For hard court, it was just slightly better at 63.1%.  

 

It’s now shortly after 5pm UK time, there is one remaining men’s match left in Casablanca where the out-of-form Pablo Andujar faces on-fire ITF player Pablo Carreno-Busta.  Andujar has only won 2 of his last 18 matches, in a run stretching back to the US Open in August 2012.  It’s tough to get meaningful statistics on Carreno-Busta, who has not played even on the challenger tour since March 2012, but some big pre-match gambles have seen Andujar move from 1.73 to 1.97, and then back to 1.77 with Pinnacle Sports.

 

Because of these lack of statistics, I’d recommend smaller than usual stakes on this match.  It appears that both players will struggle to hold serve in these conditions, and I have calculated both players’ projected serve hold % as a shade under 60%.  A viable strategy for this match would be to lay either player when serving, until the first break is achieved.  Once this break is achieved, I recommend laying the player a break up, with a view to closing your position either with green (winning) book when a break-back occurs, or a red (losing) book if the player laid serves out to go one set up.  

Both players have an edge when leading by a set - Andujar struggles badly from a set down, but is very strong generally when a set to the good.  There’s not much in it when looking at deciding set records.  Therefore, I’d focus mainly on the first set, and laying either player also in pressure points such as serving to stay in a set/match or serving for a set/match.  This could also prove potentially lucrative in a deciding third set.

 

In Houston, there are four televised matches this evening, starting at 6pm UK time.  The two I want to focus on are Russell vs Ginepri, and Berankis vs Levine.  There aren’t as many statistics available for the Gerard Melzer v Lorenzi, and Sock v Klahn matches.

 

Both matches start with prices fairly even.  At the time of writing, Ginepri is 1.77 favourite against 2.21 Russell, and 1.99 Berankis faces 1.95 Levine (all prices with Pinnacle Sports).

 

Russell and Ginepri don’t tend to have the best serve.  In fact I have both players projected serve hold to be around the 64-66% mark.  This is way below the 2012 ATP average of 78.6% and the clay average of 75.6%.  So again, a viable strategy could be to look to lay both players service games until a break is achieved.  If you don’t want to take such a risk, I’d recommend again laying the player a break up until the break-back or end of the first set.  Russell should see the match out if a set up.  Ginepri’s record a set down is pretty poor these days - whilst the 3-9 win-loss record isn’t horrific, it’s against worse players than main tour matches tend to have, and his return on investment in these matches is a lot worse than average.  A great flip-flop opportunity could occur if Ginepri goes a set up.  In that case, I’d recommend laying him, probably at around the 1.25-1.3 mark as his record when a set up is not good.  To add to this, Russell shows a good bit of fight coming from a set down, and also in deciding sets, so this looks a great opportunity.  Your level of risk that you take here is your choice.  You can choose to green-up potentially, if Russell breaks serve to lead in the second set.  Alternatively you can see the set out and green out then, or even let the bet ride because I’d want to be backing Russell in the deciding set.  Ginepri tends to struggle more as the match goes on.

 

In the other match, Berankis takes on Levine.  I make Berankis predicted service hold 77%, and Levine’s 71%.  There’s definitely less edge here laying servers, although there’s some potential on Levine.  Levine really struggles in matches where he is a set down, only winning 3 of 23 in the last 12 months.  So short-odds backers may like the odds of around 1.3 on Berankis if he goes a set up in this.  Both players have losing records in deciding sets, but Levine’s is particularly bad, winning only 9 of 20 matches, including losing 7 when he is a favourite pre-match.

 

Tomorrow I’ll update again, including some previews for the WTA matches in Katowice.

 

Thanks for reading, and good luck in whatever you decide to bet or trade on.