Do French Players Choke on the Big Stage?


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March 2nd, 2016.

I've written several times previously about French ATP players and their general propensity to lack mental strength. 

The articles here and here illustrate well the overall tendency of male French Tennis players to check out of sets and matches when the going gets tough - certainly they do not thrive in adversity.

However, recently on Twitter, someone asked me how French players performed in finals overall and I didn't really know!  Obviously there has been some speculation as to whether they underperform, with the hashtag #Bennytitlewatch being used whenever Julien Benneteau is near the latter stages of an event.  The veteran is still waiting for his first title, having lost all ten of his finals.  Furthermore, Richard Gasquet's poor record against top ten players is well documented and given that a fair few of his finals are likely to be against top ten opposition, it should follow that he would struggle in finals too.

Julien Benneteau has lost every single main tour final...

The table below shows the records of French players who have been around the top 150 in the last two years in finals (250/500/1000/Slam levels), and in matches overall against top ten opponents.  For clarity, I included matches where I could find Pinnacle closing prices, and French vs French matches were not included.  A hypothetical £100 bet was applied to all situations:-

Player

Finals

Wins

Win %

P/L

Matches vs top 10

Wins

Win %

P/L










Tsonga

18

8

44.4

123

104

35

33.7

-190

Gasquet

19

9

47.4

-113

103

25

24.3

-2352

Monfils

20

4

20.0

-862

77

24

31.2

213

Simon

13

9

69.2

185

86

26

30.2

478

Paire

3

1

33.3

-17

20

5

25.0

876

Chardy

1

1

100.0

79

48

7

14.6

73

Mahut

4

3

75.0

345

34

4

11.8

-424

Mannarino

2

0

0.0

-200

15

1

6.7

-1050

Mathieu

3

0

0.0

-300

21

1

4.8

-1804

Pouille

0

0


0

2

0

0.0

-200

Herbert

1

0

0.0

-100

2

0

0.0

-200

Roger-Vasselin

2

0

0.0

-200

15

2

13.3

1106

Robert

1

0

0.0

-100

7

1

14.3

720

De Schepper

0

0


0

3

1

33.3

132

Benneteau

8

0

0.0

-800

54

13

24.1

1187

Llodra

3

1

33.3

-156

23

6

26.1

141










Overall

98

36

36.7

-2116

614

151

24.6

-1294


We can see here that French players certainly do not thrive in these spots.  Woeful win percentages of 36.7% and 24.6% were recorded in finals and against top ten players respectively, although it's worth equating these to market expectations to see if these percentages were as bad as they sound.

Doing this, we can see that a loss of -£2116 was incurred backing these French players in finals and -£1294 against top ten players.  These represented an ROI of -21.59% and -2.11% respectively.

Looking at these figures, we can say that French players performed awfully in finals, compared to market expectation, but probably performed around expectation against top ten opponents, with the -2.11% figure likely to be very similar to bookmaker profit margin.
Adrien Mannarino could be illustrating his win percentage in big matches here...

It's also evident that some players struggle in both areas.  

After discovering the results, I posted a quick poll on Twitter about which group of French players was better in pressure situations.  The following results were yielded:-


The World of Twitter found it tough to split the two groups of players but my results certainly managed to achieve this...

The aforementioned Gasquet, Adrian Mannarino and Paul-Henri Mathieu recorded poor numbers in both areas, although Gilles Simon was strong in both areas (and also was the major outlier, along with Benoit Paire, in having decent deficit recovery stats).  Paire also recorded overall positive figures.  On this basis it's pretty fair to say that Simon & Paire have a strong 'best' level whilst Gasquet, Mannarino and Mathieu either cannot perform at their best consistently in a match, or have significant mental weaknesses in seeing matches out.  

Paire in particular is a player that many bettors/traders detest due to his apparent inconsistency, but yet again - as I've said many times - you just need to know how to treat him.  Backing him when a break down or set and break down is extremely likely to yield strong long-term profits, as would be opposing him when leading or against a mediocre player he is likely to underestimate.

Benoit Paire is a player that bettors and traders need to treat very carefully...

Having found that there was an area where French players were extremely weak, it made me wonder if there was an area where French players were quite strong.  Surely, there was no better area to look at than the old 'Always back a Frenchie in France' statement, which actually in the past I've completely considered to be absolute garbage, not giving much respect to the venue of the tournament apart from in extreme cases (e.g. altitude).  

Last year, when posting a losing recommendation for Eastbridge, I was criticised by an individual on Twitter for backing against a Frenchman in France, as if betting on them was an absolute guarantee in this spot.  He wasn't so forthcoming with comments when I continued in this area and won.  I do believe that many gamblers actually strongly consider backing Frenchmen in France to be some form of money spinner, so it was essential to look at the facts.

Again, the table below shows the records of French players who have been around the top 150 in the last two years.  This time it shows their records in matches in France, with French vs French matches not included, and again, for clarity, I only included matches where I could find Pinnacle closing prices.  A hypothetical £100 bet was applied to all situations:-

Player

Matches in France

Wins

Win %

P/L






Tsonga

95

70

73.7

1062

Gasquet

98

62

63.3

-537

Monfils

96

67

69.8

1503

Simon

96

63

65.6

44

Paire

46

23

50.0

-10

Chardy

42

20

47.6

-854

Mahut

97

49

50.5

390

Mannarino

41

13

31.7

-1403

Mathieu

87

42

48.3

49

Pouille

16

10

62.5

947

Herbert

29

12

41.4

-759

Roger-Vasselin

72

36

50.0

-756

Robert

23

12

52.2

893

De Schepper

33

17

51.5

-431

Benneteau

86

47

54.7

603

Llodra

83

41

49.4

1084






Overall

1040

584

56.2

1825


Here, French players actually performed better than in finals or against top ten opponents.  However, the results were far from stunning, with a profit of £1825 generated from 1040 matches (ROI of 1.75%).  

It would appear that French players do enjoy playing at home, and the market does underestimate them a little, but with a win percentage of 56.2% and just marginally positive ROI, it is obvious that backing French players in France is far from the path to abundant riches.





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