Article - Top Seeds in 250s


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There's been a lot of discussion lately on social media about whether opposing top seeds in 250 events in the ATP, and International events in the WTA, was a viable proposition.  Certainly recently there's been a number of failures for top seeds in these low calibre events but is it a question of the human tendency to remember notable events more often than non-notable events?

I decided to find out!  

What I found, and you can see full findings on the table below, was that actually between 1st January, 2011 and 18th September, 2013 (today), backing every top seed in all of their matches in 250 events would have pretty much broken even.  The ROI based on Pinnacle closing starting prices across the 338 matches was -1.22%, which is effectively break even when you consider their profit margins.  

However, if we look at each year individually, we can see that in 2011 this approach would have made a profit of £579 (based on level £100 stakes), in 2012 it would have lost £140 and this year would have lost an incredible £850!  So is a new trend developing or is it just variance?  Only time will tell but if this continues in 2014 there may be the basis for a concrete strategy.

I also split the results up into some other categories, by surface and also I had a look at player genres.  

Here were the surface stats:- (based on level £100 stakes)

Indoor Hard +£447
Hard -£182
Grass -£253
Clay -£423

Whilst sample size is less strong having split the 338 matches across 4 surfaces, it's interesting to see Indoor Hard is notably the best surface for the top seeds, showing £870 more profit than clay.  I have no theory as to why clay was so bad for the top seeds, although the likes of Nadal and Ferrer in low calibre events are often priced sub 1.10 and often even sub 1.05 so a couple of shock defeats may have skewed this data.

Grass is more explainable as it's often used as a warm-up event for Wimbledon and top players may 'tank' after they get several matches under their belt.

I took a look at player genres, with the elite top 4 (Djokovic, Nadal, Murray & Federer) showing a £209 loss if you had backed them in the 250 events they were top seeds in across the 3 years.  Considering there were only a total of 13 tournaments where one of these 4 was top seeds in the sample, that's a pretty bad loss.

When I added 4 other players to that sample who were staple top 10 players over the sample (Ferrer, Berdych, Tsonga & Del Potro), the loss was slightly reduced to £73.  

The table with the data can be seen below.  Any comments/feedback gratefully received as usual!




Venue Surface 2011 Top Seed P&L 2012 Top Seed P&L 2013 Top Seed P&L Overall P&L Matches ROI
(£100 stake) (£100 stake) (£100 stake)
-411 338 -1.22
Bastad Clay Soderling 144 Ferrer 51 Berdych -94 101 10
Belgrade Clay Djokovic 7 Andujar 12 19 6
Bucharest Clay Montanes -3 Simon 84 Tipsarevic -36 45 10
Buenos Aires Clay Almagro 172 Ferrer 83 Ferrer 64 319 15
Casablanca Clay Montanes -24 Mayer F -100 Wawrinka -66 -190 6
Costa Do Sauipe Clay Almagro 175 175 4
Dusseldorf Clay Tipsarevic -100 -100 1
Estoril/Oeiras Clay Soderling -77 Del Potro 52 Ferrer -59 -84 10
Gstaad Clay Almagro -27 Tipsarevic -37 Federer -100 -164 9
Houston Clay Fish -69 Fish -100 Almagro -59 -228 7
Kitzbuhel Clay Chela 16 Kohlschreiber 87 Kohlschreiber -100 3 8
Munich Clay Youzhny -74 Tsonga -100 Tipsarevic -58 -232 5
Nice Clay Ferrer -88 Isner -69 Simon -56 -213 6
Santiago Clay Nalbandian -82 -82 1
Sao Paulo Clay Almagro 102 Nadal 74 176 8
Stuttgart Clay Monfils -100 Tipsarevic 290 Haas -33 157 7
Umag Clay Chela -100 Verdasco -27 Gasquet -100 -227 5
Vina Del Mar Clay Monaco 181 Nadal -79 102 8
Eastbourne Grass Tsonga -70 Gasquet -100 Raonic -100 -270 4
Halle Grass Berdych -2 Nadal -97 Federer 56 -43 10
Newport Grass Isner 180 Isner 228 Querrey -100 308 11
Queens Grass Nadal -87 Murray -100 Murray 89 -98 9
S-Hertogenbosch Grass Almagro -100 Ferrer 50 Ferrer -100 -150 7
Atlanta Hard Fish 110 Isner -73 Isner 233 270 11
Auckland Hard Ferrer 265 Ferrer 71 Ferrer 66 402 12
Bogota Hard Tipsarevic -79 -79 2
Brisbane Hard Soderling 125 Murray 81 Murray 32 238 14
Chennai Hard Berdych -70 Tipsarevic -66 Berdych -92 -228 10
Delray Beach Hard Fish -53 Isner -3 Isner 73 17 11
Doha Hard Nadal -57 Nadal -72 Ferrer -86 -215 12
Los Angeles Hard Fish -52 Paire -100 -152 5
Sydney Hard Querrey -100 Del Potro -90 Isner -100 -290 4
Winston Salem Hard Roddick -32 Tsonga -13 Seppi -100 -145 9
Bangkok Indoor Hard Murray 44 Tipsarevic -61 -17 7
Kuala Lumpur Indoor Hard Almagro -77 Ferrer -87 -164 5
Marseille Indoor Hard Soderling 146 Tsonga -71 Berdych -7 68 11
Metz Indoor Hard Tsonga 95 Tsonga 63 158 8
Montpellier Indoor Hard Berdych 109 Tipsarevic -100 9 5
Moscow Indoor Hard Tipsarevic 166 Dolgopolov -100 66 5
San Jose Indoor Hard Verdasco 50 Roddick -84 Raonic 162 128 11
St Petersburg Indoor Hard Simon -100 Youzhny -49 -149 5
Stockholm Indoor Hard Monfils 213 Tsonga -42 171 8
Vienna Indoor Hard Tsonga 200 Del Potro 38 238 8
Zagreb Indoor Hard Cilic -85 Ljubicic -81 Cilic 105 -61 8
Year Total 579 -140 -850
Note: In cases where the first seed has withdrawn at late notice prior to the tournament, I have used the second seed's results
By Surface
Clay -423
Grass -253
Hard -182
Indoor Hard 447
Elite Top 4
-209
Serial Top 10
-73
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