It's a quiet moment in today's tennis with rain in Doha currently (just Lamasine vs Janvier in the Cherbourg Challenger is in-play right now) so I thought I'd write a quick blog post about several articles I read in the last couple of days that I found interesting.
The first was a 'Letter to My Future Self' by Milos Raonic that you can check out here. It's a bit long, and fairly cringeworthy in places too, so I'll summarise it quickly. The general gist of Raonic's piece is that he inspires himself by perceiving that any ranking except the world number one position is mediocre, and several quotes from the Canadian stood out:-
"My biggest phobia at this point in my life is the possibility that someday I’ll look back and feel like I didn’t realize my full potential as a player. That I didn’t get to No. 1. That I didn’t win the multiple Slams. That I missed out.".
"Right now, you are No. 4. I wonder how, in your old age, that makes you feel. I wonder what’s going to happen in the future. I wonder if I’ll climb the last three steps to No. 1. There’s a lot I can’t control. I guess that’s why I’m so meticulous about the things I can — my work ethic, my persistence, my energy. I don’t know what is going to happen next. I just hope that when you read this, you can tell yourself, “I took every step that I thought was right, in the moment.”"
That Raonic is the player to write this is a little surprising, given the fact that he should have a reputation as one of the hardest working players on tour. From my statistical perspective, the numbers below illustrate that there has been some improvement:-
We can see that 2016 and 2017 have witnessed an improvement in Raonic's hold/break percentage, to just shy of 109%, and this is several percentage up from his 2013-2015 mean. Interestingly, there is a slight deterioration in his service numbers, and a proportionately large improvement in his ability to break opponents. He talks about this focus on return being an area he identified needing improvement, and he's certainly done that, moving from an Isner-esque servebot in 2015 to a slightly more rounded player, but still heavily serve orientated, in 2016 and 2017 so far.
Having said this, these return numbers are still well below the levels which Grand Slam winners have achieved over a number of years, and you can read about this more here. It would still be a shock if Raonic won a Grand Slam, when he cannot even break the average player 20% of the time.
Another area of interest is Raonic's break point data. He's over performed on break points on average by 2% in both the last two and three years, and he has had particular success on serve in this respect. Given that it is very rare to see a consistently 'clutch' player on break points, it would seem that his efforts have borne at least some fruit in this area too.
Considering the data on the whole, it is far from inconceivable that Raonic's hard work has already seen him either peaking already or being close to doing so. He may already be doing all he can to save himself from self-inflicted 'mediocrity'.
The second article I want to write about quickly, from CNN, attracted zero comments on Twitter when I retweeted it, but I found it very interesting indeed.
Again, I will summarise - someone who is obviously pretty smart has built a bot to short stocks when the new US President, Donald Trump, adversely comments on that company on Twitter. Such is Trump's impact on social media, it is not difficult to see how he could have such an impact on the financial markets.
This got me thinking in a sporting context, and there is definitely scope for similar propositions. The most robust markets pre-event for trading are probably soccer and horse racing, and particularly regarding team news in soccer, it is not difficult to envisage a similar strategy yielding good results when it is possible to react first to team news.
Whether it can beat courtsiders or the media doing so (for example, I can say for sure that the media get team sheets well in advance of team news being announced in the stadium - I used to have a season ticket in the front row at Spurs, and frequently used to look over the shoulder of the photographers in front of me to check out teams), or those with inside information, however, is obviously another question...