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Sometimes I get asked whether backing drifting players is a good idea, with particular reference to whether these players then become value according to the TennisRatings model price in the daily spreadsheets.
I decided to check this out, and from 2015 and 2016, I found 276 matches where the Pinnacle price in the daily spreadsheets drifted by 5% or greater to the starting Pinnacle price.
Quite incredibly, backing the drifting player at SP in these 276 matches yielded superb returns, indicating that the pre-match Tennis market is far from efficient in matches with significant price movement - it may well be that the market has a mentality whereby pre-match movement is respected too much, and bettors either avoid drifting players or back shortening players due to the sign of market strength.
The table below illustrates the data for backing drifting players based on implied percentage drift brackets, both from a level profit staking approach and a level stakes staking approach:-
As we can see from the table, the return on investment was very strong overall, with a slight bias towards a level profit staking approach as opposed to a level stakes strategy. Whilst I'd prefer to have a larger sample, this data is very encouraging indeed and it would take a major downswing for these results to be irrelevant.
With there being a slight bias towards that level profit staking approach, it was immediately likely that shorter priced drifters perform better than longer priced drifters - by definition, level profit staking plans tend to do better than level stakes when favourites relatively outperform underdogs.
This was indeed the case based on the starting price numbers, as evidenced below:-
Here we can see strong return on investment percentages for all pricing brackets, with the exception of the heavy underdogs priced 5.00 or greater, which performed atrociously (two winners from 21 matches).
If we were to filter out the 21 matches featuring these heavy underdogs, the return on investment percentages would be even greater, and moving forward this is likely to yield the highest returns.
Player analysis was also interesting, with the following players drifting by at least 5% on at least five separate occasions:-
Dustin Brown 5 matches (won all five!)
Grigor Dimitrov 5 matches (won three)
Feliciano Lopez 7 matches (won four)
Benoit Paire 5 matches (won one)
Vasek Pospisil 5 matches (won one)
Jack Sock 6 matches (won two)
It certainly would be interesting to see if Paire and Pospisil continued this tendency pre-2015 as well, so I checked out Paire's results from 2013 and 2014 and found the following examples of significant drifts:-
Lost 5-7 3-6 vs Albert Ramos (Umag 2014) - Opened 2.19, closed 2.60.
Lost 4-6 6-7 vs Dudi Sela (Hertogenbosch 2014) - Opened 1.58, Closed 1.72.
Lost 4-6 6-7 2-6 vs Roberto Bautista-Agut (French Open 2014) - Opened 2.99, Closed 5.18.
Won 6-4 5-7 6-4 vs Albert Montanes (Casablanca 2014) - Opened 2.33, Closed 2.69.
Lost 3-6 3-6 vs Jarkko Nieminen (Valencia 2013) - Opened 1.60, Closed 1.84.
Lost 6-7 5-7 vs Florian Mayer (Shanghai 2013) - Opened 1.94, Closed 2.27.
Lost 6-7 7-6 3-6 vs Marinko Matosevic (Montreal 2013) - Opened 1.56, Closed 1.70.
Won 7-6 7-5 vs Philipp Kohlschreiber (Montreal 2013) - Opened 2.13, Closed 2.83.
Won 6-3 6-1 vs Nikolay Davydenko (Cincinnati 2013) - Opened 1.75, Closed 2.10.
Lost 3-0 (ret) vs Michael Llodra (Hertogenbosch 2013) - Opened 1.97, Closed 2.34.
Won 4-6 6-4 6-3 vs Aljaz Bedene (Casablanca 2013) - Opened 1.55, Closed 2.00.
Lost 3-6 6-2 2-6 vs Yen-Hsun Lu (Auckland 2013) - Opened 2.03, Closed 2.29.
From 2013 to 2016, Paire won just five of 17 matches where he drifted more than 5% implied percentage pre-match. Based on starting prices, he would have been expected to win 7.82 matches, so he won 2.82 fewer matches than expectation when drifting from 2013 to 2016.
Perhaps letting the pre-match market guide you with Paire (from going through the data, he tended to win most matches where the market backed him to a shorter price than opening lines) would be a solid pre-match strategy for the erratic Frenchman's matches.
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