January 2014 Archive

 31st JANUARY MATCH PREVIEWS
 
Elina Svitolina could struggle to hold serve consistently today...

It's the quarter final stage in the two WTA events today, and it's a tough day on the horizon with not much in the way of value in my opinion.

My model indicated some value on Elena Vesnina against Julia Goerges in Pattaya but with concerns over a wrist injury and a reasonable drift taking place, it's enough for me to give this a swerve.

Another potential value pick was Kimiko Date-Krumm at odds of over 5.00, but Ekaterina Makarova has a very strong record when a heavy favourite and has had some dominant wins in that price range.

One match I want to spend some more time focusing on is Elina Svitolina against Sara Errani with the Italian perhaps a touch of value at 1.48.

With Errani breaking 49.4% on hard/indoor courts in the last 12 months, this gives Svitolina a low projected hold for this, and as long as the price allows us, laying her serve in most circumstances should work well.

With Errani magnificent a break down - she recovered a break deficit 65.91% in 2013 - this takes the combined score when Svitolina is a break up to be well over the crucial 105 as detailed in the WTA break-back percentages article.  

Therefore laying Svitolina when a break up appeals.

Finally, a match where break-backs could happen with regularity is the match between Andrea Petkovic and Alize Cornet.

The Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet - due to be updated after this weekends matches - shows that both women are superb when a break down.

Petkovic recovered a break deficit 65.57% whilst Cornet did so 60.42% of the time.  Both of these are well above WTA average and with neither being particularly solid defending a break lead, we could see some swings in this.

With a slightly higher projected hold (both are a little below WTA average) and break point clutch score, this line on Petkovic has marginally less appeal but is still viable - I do definitely like opposing Cornet in this scenario.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!


     30th JANUARY MATCH PREVIEWS

Yvonne Meusburger's matches often feature service breaks...

Today's matches start in around half an hour and with several withdrawals in Paris, there are just the eight matches on the schedule today.

At around midday in the French capital, Yvonne Meusburger (above, pictured) takes on Kirsten Flipkens and I think there will be the standard high quantity of breaks which tend to feature in Meusburger's matches.

The Austrian holds just 55.0% on hard/indoor in the last 12 months at WTA level but breaks a highly impressive 47.2% - and with Flipkens' stats around WTA average for both categories I can't see a huge amount changing today.

Actually these stats make Meusburger marginal favourite according to my model but my worry is how often she will win the key points as her break point stats when she's serving are atrocious.

I feel the best strategy here is to look to use the selected triggers in the Tier Two Daily Spreadsheet to lay the server - in particular Flipkens.

Next up is the meeting between Kristina Mladenovic - who scuppered a clean sheet of wins for TennisRatings Tips subscribers yesterday by not only covering the game handicap but beating Simona Halep - and Andrea Petkovic.

As yesterday I feel there is too much market love for Mladenovic and the stats indicate value on Petkovic, who has a high projected hold for this.

Coupled with her high break point 'clutch' score it's clear that backing Petkovic when losing on serve at points recommended in the TennisRatings Trading Handbook is viable.

Furthermore, whilst Mladenovic's projected hold is not low (it's about average), stats recommend laying her a break up.  

In 2013 Mladenovic gave up a break lead 53.57% of the time, whilst Petkovic recovered a break deficit a highly impressive 65.57%, taking the combined score on the Mladenovic serve to a huge 119.14 - well above the preferred 105.

Finally, another match where there could be breaks is Karin Knapp against Sara Errani with the higher ranked Italian perhaps generously priced at 1.85, although it must be said that like Vinci yesterday, she may struggle with acclimatisation after their doubles run in the Australian Open.

Projected holds are a little low for indoor hard, with Knapp's slightly the lower.  As with Meusburger v Flipkens, using the triggers in the Tier Two Spreadsheet to lay the server looks good.

Both players have a combined score of over the required 105 when a break up (as both are very impressive when a break down) so laying either player a break up looks good to me.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!

     29th JANUARY MATCH PREVIEWS     

Karolina Pliskova's serve should propel her to victory today...

After yesterday's huge result for followers on Majeric against Hsieh, with most prices appearing about right, it's back to a little more like normality today.

One player I do feel is value is Karolina Pliskova at 1.73.  The Czech was recommended to TennisRatings Tips Subscribers at 1.80 last night and takes on Alla Kudryavtseva in Pattaya in about an hour.  I must admit I've been impressed with the better Pliskova sister's improvement lately (actually Krystina has also shown a higher level recently too).

Stats of 77.4% holds and 30.3% breaks mean that Pliskova is one of the best servers on the WTA Tour and are very strong for her ranking despite her limited return game.

Kudryavtseva hasn't had much WTA experience lately and has much worse stats of 60.4% holds and 33.6% breaks.  

The net result of these stats is that the TennisRatings Daily spreadsheet has both players with high projected holds, with a significant edge for Pliskova.

Alison Riske is another that has impressed lately but at 1.53 is only a touch of value against the inconsistent Sorana Cirstea - I was hoping for over 1.60 but the double bagel demolition of Anabel Medina Garrigues in the previous round was probably why that was not the case.  She may well be value as an underdog against a higher profile opponent soon though.

Cirstea has a low projected hold for this so I like the idea of laying her serve from the off and see what develops.  Rolling Projected Holds in the Tier Two Spreadsheet indicate that if she gets broken early, more may follow.

In Paris, several players are playing their opening match after playing doubles finals at the weekend in the Australian Open so may well be tired.

Roberta Vinci has had the effect of that factored into her market price of 1.55 against Elina Svitolina who seems to have gone a little backwards lately.

Kristina Mladenovic who may well turn into a doubles specialist hasn't though, and I'm surprised to see Simona Halep not getting huge market love at 1.25 against her.  

This is perhaps due to the fact that the young Frenchwoman got to the semi-finals here last year and should she lose today it will herald a large drop in the rankings. 

Halep's stats of 49.9% breaks on hard/indoor in the last 12 months is the main reason why Mladenovic has a low projected hold and with Mladenovic giving up a break lead an above average 53.57% in 2013, and Halep recovering a break deficit 59.15% the combined score when Mladenovic is a break up is well over the required 105 as detailed in the WTA Break-Back Percentages article.

Therefore it is viable to lay Mladenovic when a break up in this and also her serve when on serve, as long as the price allows.

Finally I feel Klara Zakopalova will struggle to hold serve consistently against Angelique Kerber with a projected hold just under 50%.

Furthermore, the combined score on her when a break up is 117.67 which is the highest of the day and clearly indicates laying her a break up should be a move with high positive expectation.

Opposing Zakopalova in the same vein as Mladenovic seems the logical play here.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!





     28th JANUARY MATCH PREVIEWS

Su Wei Hsieh is vulnerable at a short price today...

Some Twitter followers have noticed that I tweeted that there were some strange prices today, and TennisRatings Tips subscribers were emailed at around 9pm last night to take advantage of these prices.

Hopefully all have got on my recommendations by now so I will do a preview of some of the matches where I feel there is some value:-

In Pattaya, I can't believe how short Su Wei Hsieh is at 1.33 against Tadeja Majeric.

The Slovenian does not have an abundance of stats on her at WTA level but Hsieh does, and they are woeful.

She's held just 50.4% and broken 33.6% of the time on hard courts in the past year (both below WTA average - especially the serve) and I can't think of many scenarios where this justifies being 1/3 pre-match...

I'm told that Majeric may have some match-up difficulties but even so this is crazily short to me.

Hsieh has a low projected hold here and I like the line of laying her serve from the word go and seeing what develops.  Unless she's holding pretty easily my Rolling Projected Holds in the Tier Two Daily Spreadsheet indicate this line should be continued.

I have no in-play stats for Majeric but Hsieh gave up a break lead a dismal 66.67% in 2013 which is well above the WTA average, so she's awful at protecting a break lead.  

Almost all WTA players have a deficit recovery stat of over 39% which would bring the combined score on Hsieh's serve to be over 105 - taking this line without data on Majeric is a little dangerous but with a low projected hold, a poor value SP and awful break lead stats, this could be a perfect storm for opposing Hsieh here.  

Even if she gets through there could well be some further value opposing her this week.

As I mentioned yesterday, projected holds will likely be quite high this week with service stats indicating the courts played reasonably fast last year, but one match where there could be breaks is the clash in Paris between Yvonne Meusburger and Anna-Lena Friedsam.

As with Majeric, data on Friedsam is fairly scarce but she's earnt her right to be here via qualifying and her overall stats are very good for a player that hasn't yet turned 20.

Meusburger, it must be said, has a strong tendency to win when expected so I wouldn't want to go against her here for the outright win but projected holds are fairly low and the Rolling Projected Holds indicate that should the match go in certain directions laying the server will be viable.

The Austrian's matches tend to have many breaks and I wouldn't be at all surprised if that continues here.

Finally the last match I want to preview is another in Paris as Marina Erakovic takes on Daniela Hantuchova.

As usual the markets are absolutely in love with Hantuchova and I cannot believe Erakovic is as big as 2.75 here, although her price is slowly dropping.

The New Zealander loves a quick surface and had a superb 9-1 record indoors in 2013, winning Memphis when underdog in all five matches and getting to the final in Quebec where she lost to Lucie Safarova.

She also has a very strong 35-14 career record on indoor hard and it's not unfair to call her an indoor specialist.

Projected holds are high and give the edge to Erakovic, although Hantuchova may have the edge on break points.  

For me there is no reason at all why Hantuchova is priced around 1.50 here and with her in decline generally I feel this is ridiculously short against a competent opponent on the surface.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!

     27th JANUARY MATCH PREVIEWS

Estrella Cabeza Candela's matches tend to be very swingy...

There are just the two WTA events this week - Paris Premier (Indoor Hard) and Pattaya International (Hard).

Outright recommendations based on hold/break stats and draw analysis have been sent to TennisRatings Tips subscribers.

Last year both events had above average service holds for the surfaces and this means that projected holds should be fairly high this week, and on that basis laying the server should be a trade performed very selectively this week.

According to the TennisRatings Tier Two Spreadsheet, just two players have a low projected hold today from the eight matches scheduled and both are heavy underdogs - Anabel Medina Garrigues and Caroline Garcia.

It's certainly very rare for Garcia's opponent - Klara Zakopalova - to have a high projected hold but it's the case today against a player who has a very weak return game.  Garcia has just 21.1% breaks on hard court in the past year and has created just 0.56 break points per game on the surface which is one of the lowest I can remember from a player that is fairly regular on the main tour.

With Garcia giving up a break lead 50.0% in 2013 based on the stats from the WTA Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet, and Zakopalova recovering a break deficit 55.07%, the combined score when Garcia is a break up is just over the required 105 as detailed in the WTA break-back percentages article.

Therefore laying Garcia's serve can be considered when the price realistically allows, and laying her a break up is also statistically viable.

Medina Garrigues' opponent is the improving Alison Riske who has impressed me in recent times, and the American may well provide us with some value opportunities in the near future.

Riske is available at around 1.20 which my model indicated is on the generous side against an opponent that held 54.9% and broke 36.4% in her 14 hard court matches last year.  With 71.8% holds and 39.5% breaks, Riske is a much better player on the surface.

If situations allow, I like the line of opposing Medina Garrigues here on serve.  Stats do not support laying her a break up though.

The final match I want to preview today is the clash between Andrea Hlavackova and Estrella Cabeza Candela with the WTA Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet supporting laying either player a break up in this.

Cabeza Candela's break lead/deficit stats from 2013 are incredible, giving up a break lead 65.63% and recovering a break deficit 54.84%, making her one of the most swingy players on the WTA Tour.

Hlavackova gave up a break lead a poor 59.52% herself and even with a mediocre break deficit recovery percentage of 40.43%, this is enough for both players to have a combined score over 105.  

Certainly laying Hlavackova a break up is by some distance the highest combined score of the day.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!

 26TH JANUARY

       NADAL vs WAWRINKA PREVIEW

Stan Wawrinka has not won a set from Rafael Nadal in 26 attempts.

The men's final in the Australian Open starts in about half an hour and the good news for Stan Wawrinka is that he is competing in his first Grand Slam Final.

The bad news is that it's against Rafael Nadal, who he has a 12-0 head to head deficit in matches, and 26-0 in sets!

That's lead to a raft of people thinking the 3-0 set score is a given at perceived great value at just over evens, but to me it's probably not.

This is because my model indicated prices were very similar to starting prices which have Nadal at around 1.19 and derivative markets will base their prices from the match win price.

It's of huge credit to Wawrinka that he has a projected hold close to ATP mean, having upped his service hold percentage on hard courts to 87.2% in the last 12 months, whilst Nadal's projected hold is very high.  Grand Slam finals can often have more breaks than expected but I'm not entirely sure we'll see it here.

As mentioned, Nadal has a high projected hold and he also has a high break point 'clutch' score - so backing the Spaniard when losing on serve at point specified by the TennisRatings Trading Handbook appeals.

Despite mentioning that Wawrinka's projected hold isn't as low as many may think, The Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet shows that it should be viable to lay the Swiss' when a break up in this if prices allow.

Wawrinka gave up a break lead 24.76% in 2013 whilst Nadal recovered a break deficit 55.56% so the combined score when Wawrinka is a break up is over the preferred 75 as detailed in the ATP Break Back Percentages article.

Finally, as mentioned in the Nadal vs Federer semi-final preview, Nadal gets stronger as matches progress so it would appear viable to lay Wawrinka if he leads in sets.  1-0 up may not give us a hugely low price to lay but I'd be surprised if he lead 1-0 and a break, or 2-0 in sets and didn't trade much higher.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!

                       25TH JANUARY

            LI vs CIBULKOVA PREVIEW

How will Dominika Cibulkova cope with the pressure in her first Grand Slam Final?

The women's Australian Open final gets underway in around an hour and you would have got huge odds pre-tournament on the two players competing it being Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova.

Li Na has generally looked comfortable apart from a fight against the inconsistent Lucie Safarova whilst Cibulkova has destroyed her opponents, losing just one set to Maria Sharapova. 

Her last three wins have come as a 2.43-3.17 underdog and her performances here have totally belied her world ranking of 24, as well as her hold/break stats on hard court.

These stats favour Li in a big way - she's held 75.1% to 65.4% on the surface in the past 12 months, and broken 48.1% to 42.3%. 

The effect of these is that Cibulkova has a low projected hold for this, according to the TennisRatings Daily Spreadsheets and also that Li offers some value at 1.40.

Certainly, the Chinese player has dominated Cibulkova in the past, winning all four of their previous meetings for the loss of just a set - in their last meeting on hard court in Toronto in August 2013, Li won 7-6, 6-2 in a match where there were 8 breaks in 20 service games, slightly more than the WTA average.

That's what I can see happening today - a nervy final with both players making errors and dropping their serve.  Whilst Li's projected hold is around average, if she starts to struggle to hold it might be worth laying her serve as well.

In last year's Australian Open final against Victoria Azarenka, Li was broken 9 times in 15 service games, and she broke the Belarussian 7 times in 14 service games herself.  

With Cibulkova losing a break lead 46.84% (just below average for a top 100 player but not great for a top 20-25 player) and Li recovering a break deficit 66.67% in 2013 the combined score on Cibulkova when a break up is 113.51, well above the preferred 105 as detailed in the WTA break-back percentages article.

It's clear that the way to go for this is to lay Cibulkova's serve when on serve, if the price allows, and to lay Cibulkova when a break up.  If Li is struggling to hold serve, this is a possibility for her too, but the stats illustrate that it's much less of an edge than the other two strategies.

However, the WTA Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet shows Li to break 4.14% less than her average in late games of the set (any game after at least one player has reached 4 games in the set) so it would be wise to reduce stakes when laying Cibulkova close to the end of sets.  It's still viable, but less so.

Overall, I feel Li's experience and superior ability will get her through this, although Cibulkova is definitely not without a chance, and her strong record as an underdog will give her hope that she can cause a fourth consecutive upset and take the title.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!

                       24TH JANUARY
          NADAL vs FEDERER PREVIEW

Hand blisters have now made Rafael Nadal a very attractive price against Roger Federer...

The second men's semi-final starts in just over an hour with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer both fighting for the right to face Stan Wawrinka in tomorrow's final.

What most people have been talking about on social media regarding this match are the blisters on Nadal's hand, and whether that will affect his chances of winning this match.

I'm no doctor so I can't say with absolute certainty whether they will or won't, but if he can play close to his best, the 1.70 about the Spanish world number one will look very big indeed.  

When these two met at the O2 in November, Nadal was 1.34, and in Cincinnati in August, 1.32, so by definition blisters and Federer's strong performances so far have cost Nadal around 16-17% in implied odds according to the market, and I just can't have that.

The O2 meeting was on Indoor Hard, and the forecast rain doesn't look likely according to my trusty iPhone, so it looks like it won't be played indoors today (which would have favoured Federer, with a 4-1 head to head lead indoor).

This indoor head to head lead is the polar opposite to the general head to head, which shows Nadal with a 24-10 lead, a 5-1 lead since 2012 and a 9-2 lead since 2011.

The TennisRatings Daily Spreadsheets show Nadal to have a high projected hold and high break point 'clutch' score which is in part due to the general inability of Federer to take break points.  In his defeat at the O2, Federer actually had the same amount of break points as Nadal, but lost in straight sets and broke three times less...

What this means is that backing Nadal when losing on serve at points specified in the TennisRatings Trading Handbook is statistically viable.

Federer's projected hold and break point 'clutch' score are much closer to average so there's not an angle to look at on his serve.

According to the Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet, the Swiss let a break lead slip 16.83% in 2013 which was one of the highest on ATP Tour, and despite Nadal leading the tour stats for break deficit recovery (55.56% in 2013) the combined score doesn't take us over the 75 specified in the ATP Break Back Percentages Article.

One angle I want to look at is the possibility of Federer leading in sets but giving up this lead.

5-set data is not in abundance so I have looked at the set percentages from standard 3-set ATP Tour matches to see if we can get any insight in this respect.

These show that in 2013, Nadal got stronger as the match progressed - he won 80.0% of first sets, 84.6% of second sets and 92.9% of deciding third sets.

On the flip side, Federer won 62.2% of first sets, 71.1% of second sets and 55.6% of deciding sets - clearly the third set was where he was weakest.

On that basis it would appear that laying Federer when a set up, and averaging down that position if he takes a two set lead, as recommended successfully yesterday in the Berdych vs Wawrinka match, would work well.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow! 



                      23RD JANUARY 
    BERDYCH vs WAWRINKA PREVIEW

I feel Tomas Berdych is value but this match has many intangibles...

With the two WTA semi-finals being played in the early hours, the remaining match today is Tomas Berdych against Stanislas Wawrinka in the first men's semi-final.

After his epic victory over the tournament favourite Novak Djokovic in the previous round, Wawrinka starts as favourite at around 1.83.

Analysing this match produces more questions than answers for me, and I'm leaning towards Berdych, but it's not a confident pick.  I do feel at around 2.30 he's value but I don't feel backers can be hugely comfortable that he will get the job done.

In his favour is that he's only dropped one set in his run to this stage and Wawrinka played a much longer quarter-final.  However the Swiss received a walkover from Vasek Pospisil in a previous round so has actually played 14 sets (less than Berdych's 16) so far, so the effect of this may be less than average.

Berdych had not dropped his serve until his quarter-final with David Ferrer so is clearly serving well, and the hold/break stats indicate he is the better hard court player.

The Czech has held serve 87.2% to 86.5% on the surface in the past 12 months, whilst breaking 30.2% to 24.3% - so there's a reasonable advantage there.  My model priced him at 1.80 for this.

Both opponents have strong break point 'clutch' scores and with projected holds above ATP average for Berdych, and marginally below for Wawrinka, we may not see many breaks here, so laying servers isn't recommended.

It's also not viable to lay either player when a break up with Berdych giving up a break lead a strong 23.68% in 2013, and Wawrinka very slightly worse at 24.76%.  This would mean that both players would need to recover break deficits over 50%, which is reserved for the elite - and they don't.

With neither player having much deviation in their early or late hold/break stats according to the Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet, there isn't an abundance of trading avenues here, apart from the previously mentioned value on the Czech.

However, considering Berdych has a high projected hold and high break point clutch score, as well as the value being on him, I quite like the idea of backing him when losing on serve at points specified in the TennisRatings Trading Handbook.

Having spoken about the positives for Berdych, here are several negatives.

Firstly, he has previously struggled with this match-up and Wawrinka enjoys a 5-1 head to head lead since 2011.  

Three of those wins were on hard court with Berdych's win coming on indoor hard, where I feel his serve is stronger.  However, Wawrinka also registered a victory on that surface at the World Tour Finals in November 2013. 

Whilst this is no doubt dominant and may play on Berdych's mind, it's worth pointing out that in those six more recent matches, Berdych took a set in five of the encounters, and the 12-7 set score doesn't sound as dominant as the 5-1 head to head may seem.

Bearing this and my model price discrepancy in mind, laying Wawrinka at 1-0 up in sets and definitely at 2-0 up would seem a solid strategy.

The second negative for Berdych is the fact Wawrinka is very strong when marginal SP favourite - his career record when priced 1.50 to 1.99 is 35-13 and since January 2012 is 14-3.

Plenty to think about here and I think this could be a very competitive match - I'd be surprised if this was one-way traffic.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!

    22ND JANUARY MATCH PREVIEWS 
                    & STATS UPDATE

Andy Murray's match with Roger Federer is the game of the day...

There are a further four matches tomorrow as the quarter final stage concludes, and the WTA quarter-finals start first.

In the opener, I feel Simona Halep is the value pick at around 1.70 against the previously impressive Dominika Cibulkova but looking at the year long stats, there is little comparison.

Halep has held 69.2% and broken 49.5% on hard court in the past 12 months and those are top 5 figures - almost identical combined hold/break stats to Agnieszka Radwanska.  Cibulkova's 65.2% holds and 40.4% breaks are about expected for her ranking.

These stats give Cibulkova a low projected hold, according to the TennisRatings Daily Spreadsheets, and I feel her serve could be broken a fair few time tomorrow, and I like the approach of laying her serve from the start and evaluating.

Furthermore, the WTA Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet showed Halep recovered a break deficit 59.15% in 2013, and with Cibulkova losing a break lead 46.84%, this takes the combined score when Cibulkova is a break up to 105.99 - just above the required 105 to lay a player a break up - so laying Cibulkova a break up also appeals.

Based on hold/break stats, Agnieszka Radwanska appears value against Victoria Azarenka but that is without taking into account the fact the Pole has a 12-3 head to head deficit.  

Indeed, Azarenka has taken all 7 recent matches from 2012 onwards and has dropped just two sets in the process, so it does indicate the 1.18 about Azarenka to progress is about right.

Both players have a below average projected hold but it's Radwanska with the lower - although it's worth noting she gave up a break lead less and recovered a break deficit more in 2013.  

Suggested tactics for this would be to lay Radwanska's serve when the match is on serve if the price allows (e.g. at one set up), Azarenka's serve on serve generally, and a very low risk lay of Azarenka a break up.

In ATP action, I'm expecting a comfortable win for Rafael Nadal over Grigor Dimitrov in the first quarter-final tomorrow, with the Spaniard yet to drop a set in the competition so far.

Kei Nishikori pushed him well in the previous round but still went out in straight sets, and stats indicate that Dimitrov has a low projected hold for this, and also a low break point 'clutch' score.

The effect of this is that it should be viable to lay Dimitrov's serve when the match is on serve when price allows, selectively using the triggers on the Rolling Projected Holds in the Tier Two Daily Spreadsheets.

Nadal's projected hold is way above average, and when you take into account his break point 'clutch' score is very high, backing him when losing on serve at points recommended in the TennisRatings Trading Handbook is suggested.

With the world number one very strong when a break down (55.56% recovery in 2013) the combined score when Dimitrov is a break up is well over the preferred ATP level of 75 and hence laying the Bulgarian a break up also appeals.

Finally we have the match of the day between Andy Murray and Roger Federer, with the Scotsman perhaps surprisingly the underdog currently at about 2.10.

As the stats illustrated in my latest Pinnacle Sports article the Swiss legend is over-rated when favourite in the 5-set format in the latter stages of Grand Slams and showed a very poor return on investment.

He also has a very mediocre career record when priced 1.50 to 1.99, although Murray doesn't tend to thrive as an underdog himself.

However, Murray has the higher projected hold of two around the ATP mean, and slightly better break point stats.  

Bearing this in mind, and with both players very solid at holding onto break leads and Federer in particular poor at recovering break deficits, our in-set trading options are limited.  

One avenue I do like is laying Federer should he lead in sets.  

Stats on this are thin on the ground but when 1.50 to 2.99 in Grand Slams since 2011 he's given up a lead twice out of three matches, and in one of those (Djokovic at the US Open in 2011) he gave up a 2 set lead. 

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!

  ACCUMULATED FATIGUE STATISTICS

This shows the number of sets played by each ATP player remaining in the Australian Open - avoiding accumulated fatigue is vital in the 5-set format of Grand Slams:-

ATP Quarter Finalists:-

Nadal: 4 matches, 10 sets
Dimitrov: 4 matches, 15 sets
Murray: 4 matches, 13 sets
Federer: 4 matches, 12 sets

ATP Semi Finalists:-

Berdych: 5 matches, 16 sets
Wawrinka: 5 matches, 14 sets (1 match was a walkover - plus one 5 set match in last round vs Djokovic)

    20TH JANUARY MATCH PREVIEWS 
                    & STATS UPDATE

Garbine Muguruza has now played 14 matches already this season...

Apologies for no updates in the last few days - I have been away visiting my wife's family, so have just prioritised the tips and spreadsheets for subscribers.

   ACCUMULATED FATIGUE STATISTICS

This shows the number of sets played by each ATP player remaining in the Australian Open - avoiding accumulated fatigue is vital in the 5-set format of Grand Slams:-

ATP Quarter Finalists:-

Berdych: 4 matches, 12 sets
Ferrer: 4 matches, 14 sets
Wawrinka: 4 matches, 9 sets
Djokovic: 4 matches, 12 sets

ATP R16:-

Nadal: 3 matches, 7 sets
Nishikori: 3 matches, 11 sets (1 5-set)
Dimitrov: 3 matches, 11 sets
Bautista-Agut: 3 matches, 11 sets (1 5-set)
Murray: 3 matches, 9 sets
Robert: 3 matches, 10 sets (plus 3 matches, 6 sets in qualifying)
Tsonga: 3 matches, 9 sets
Federer: 3 matches, 9 sets

There are eight matches in the Australian Open overnight as the tournament gets towards the quarter final stage.

Today's selected match previews focus on the WTA matches, as I feel that they provide some decent trading avenues.

Projected holds are both low in the clash between Jelena Jankovic and Simona Halep with the Serb's especially low - with Halep breaking 49.5% on the surface in the past 12 months, I do expect her return game to generate some success on the Jankovic serve.

I also feel she represents a little value at around 1.80 pre-match, so it makes sense to look to oppose Jankovic overall in this.

It's also worth noting that according to the WTA Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet, Jankovic gave up a break lead 50.38% in 2013 which is more than the top 100 average, and is obviously very poor for a top 10 player.  With Halep recovering a break deficit 59.15% in the same time frame, opposing Jankovic a break up looks a very solid strategy.

I'm very surprised to see Dominika Cibulkova short against Maria Sharapova with the Russian a rather generous 1.40 for this - I feel this is a huge over-reaction based on Cibulkova's demolition of Suarez Navarro in the previous round.  However, Cibulkova has a very strong record as a heavy underdog, so this match is far from a foregone conclusion.

With Sharapova holding 77.0% to 65.3% and breaking 50.5% to 39.9% on hard court in the past 12 months, it's fair to say she is by far the superior hard courter, and these stats indicate that Cibulkova should hold less than 50%, according to the TennisRatings Daily Spreadsheets.

However, Sharapova does not boast superb break deficit recovery stats (46.67% recovery in 2013) and it's difficult to recommend backing her at a bigger price when a break down in this.

Another over-reaction is in the price of Garbine Muguruza against Agnieszka Radwanska, although this is less than the Cibulkova v Sharapova match.

Radwanska is currently available at 1.53 and I feel this is a little big - no doubt Muguruza is the player of the season so far but the promising Spaniard has now played 14 matches already in 3 weeks and she must be absolutely shattered.

This surely is the type of player Radwanska can use her craftiness and experience against, as she has done with Sloane Stephens so far in their career matches (although I feel Muguruza actually has more potential than Stephens).

Muguruza has a fairly low projected hold for this so laying her serve when the price allows and the match is on serve looks a good strategy, and also with Radwanska recovering a break deficit a magnificent 70.45% of the time in 2013, laying Muguruza a break up also appeals.

I'd be surprised if Sloane Stephens got past Victoria Azarenka (1.18) and my model actually priced Azarenka marginally shorter than that price.

As with the other WTA underdogs, Stephens has a low projected hold (unsurprising considering Azarenka has broken 55.5% on the surface in the past 12 months) and also it should be viable laying Stephens when a break up in this.

In a quick summary of ATP action, clearly the two heavy favourites, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are justified and if they fall behind by a reasonable deficit such as a set and break should be worth backing at bigger price, although I very much doubt this will happen.

The other two matches are much closer in odds, and I actually like the two underdogs - Roberto Bautista-Agut and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - to get upsets.

My latest article for Pinnacle Sports (linked at the top of the left hand margin) shows Tsonga's opponent - Roger Federer - to have a very poor record in the last 16 or later in a Grand Slam when favourite.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!


16TH JANUARY MATCH PREVIEWS



Gilles Simon may not have much to smile about tonight...

Apologies for no update yesterday - was just so tired after a long week I had to sleep!

I'm going to try and do a very short write-up for each of the 32 matches in the Australian Open tomorrow with some trading advice for each...

Men's action commences at midnight with Dusan Lajovic taking on Kei Nishikori (1.10).  

I feel Nishikori is short at 1.10 after the previous rounds 5-set match even against a limited opponent.  Lajovic has a low projected hold though so should get broken a fair bit more often than average.

Andreas Seppi (1.47) gainst Donald Young is the other match at midnight - my latest article for Pinnacle Sports shows Seppi played an average 41.95 games/match on average in Grand Slams when ranked 40 or below and this is very high (and does not take into account the last round epic with Hewitt).  

I'm expecting a long match again and despite not having good stats, I think Young is the value pick here.  Projected holds are both low, a match with breaks and swings is definitely possible.  Stats also favour laying Young a break up.

Stephane Robert vs Michal Przysiezny (1.56) is probably a Challenger match-up in all honesty (I know Pryzsiezny has improved his ranking but his stats don't suggest he will continue to do so).

SP seems about right, and projected holds are around the ATP mean, with the edge going to the Pole.  Hard to see much of an edge here.

Blaz Rola and Martin Klizan (1.71) are much more suited to clay but they somehow find themselves facing each other in a hard court Grand Slam in the second round.  

Surface stats are hard to come by for Rola but the ones I do have indicate he is a bit of value and it might pay to oppose the Klizan serve here - he's held just 70.8% on hard courts in ATP events in the last 12 months.

In the last round, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (1.11) was probably the best value 1.02 shot I've ever seen, and I feel he's value at a short price here as well, against Thomaz Bellucci.

The Brazilian clay courter has a low projected hold for this, and stats also recommend laying him a break up for this.  

Fernando Verdasco (1.17) is justifiably a short price against the limited Teymuraz Gabashvili although I would expect a closer match than some may think - the Georgian doesn't have as low a projected hold as many, and it's also worth noting Verdasco doesn't have strong stats for recovering from a break deficit.

Marin Cilic (1.33) against Gilles Simon is probably the match I'm looking forward to the most and I feel it's impossible not to side with Cilic here - both played 5 set matches in the previous round but Simon's was much longer (he won 16-14 in the final set) and with him having huge ankle injury doubts prior to that first round match with Daniel Brands, I cannot see the Frenchman posing much of a threat here.   I wouldn't be shocked if he joined the many retirements this week. 

Simon has a low projected hold and a high combined score when a break up, so laying his serve when viable and laying him if he leads by a break (effectively just opposing him full stop) is what the stats suggest here!

Yen-Hsun Lu appears value based on the stats against the generally over-rated Grigor Dimitrov (1.57) but my worry here would be how fresh Lu is after getting to the Auckland final last week.  

He actually has better ATP hard court stats than the Bulgarian and also the break-back stats suggest laying Dimitrov a break up.  Under normal circumstances that would seem to be a good play but I'd recommend small stakes for that given Lu's potential fatigue.

Rafael Nadal (1.02) should obviously be too good for Thanasi Kokkinakis and I feel the young Australian probably will struggle to keep this close.  If somehow he leads, his projected hold is very low (think WTA) so I'd look to oppose his serve, but I'd be shocked if we got that chance.

Milos Raonic (1.17) is fancied by many to make a deep run in this event and I do feel he's the best of the 'big servers'.  However SP seems about right for this match against Victor Hanescu, where projected holds are high.

Indeed, the Canadian's projected hold is in the stratosphere, and backing him when losing on serve at points recommended by the TennisRatings Trading Handbook, with a high break-point clutch score also, should be worthwhile.

I feel Gael Monfils (1.12) is a little short for his match against Jack Sock but I have huge doubts about Sock in long matches, so I don't expect an upset here.

The young American can keep this close in the opening couple of sets though, and if you're looking for a player to oppose when 2 sets up, he may well be the one.

Michael Berrer hasn't played many ATP events lately and his record is poor - however Feliciano Lopez (1.33) doesn't have the best hard court record in the last 12 months.  I find his best stats are indoors.

The price on Lopez is exactly the same as my model so no edge here, this is a match hard to get excited about.

Roger Federer (1.04) seems a little short against Blaz Kavcic and I've seen worse lay-to-back opportunities.  

With 73.8% holds and 26.4% breaks on hard court in the last 12 months, the Slovenian isn't as bad on the surface as some think.

Juan Martin Del Potro (1.09) is another that's a little short against a competent opponent in Roberto Bautista-Agut, who expended very little energy in a dominant display over Tim Smyczek in the first round.

Projected holds are a little low for RBA and about average for JMDP, and stats recommend laying the Spaniard a break up in this too.

Benoit Paire (1.43) is a little value based on my model but doesn't have a strong record priced 1.20 to 1.49 - I feel he is a better betting prospect as an underdog, when he tends to take matches more seriously.

Today he takes on the promising young Aussie, Nick Kyrgios, who has a very low projected hold.  Paire has a solid record when a break down so laying Kyrgios a break up in sets appeals.

Finally in men's action, Andy Murray (1.02) faces Vincent Millot who will probably be a lamb to the slaughter.  A huge ability differential should be on display here.   I'd be staggered if this was anything but 3 straight sets but, as with Nadal, should somehow Millot lead in this, opposing him should be viable.

WTA action also starts at midnight with no less than seven matches commencing then.

Alize Cornet (1.50) is similar to Paire in that they have poor records as favourites, although my model made them value.  

With 59.3% holds and 31.6% breaks, it's hard to feel opponent Camila Giorgi can do much past her current ranking and the Italian has a low projected hold.  Laying her a break up also appeals.

Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Victoria Azarenka and Simona Halep all are justifiably short for their matches and I actually make Halep (1.16) value for her match with the mediocre Varvara Lepchenko.

Lepchenko and the other opponents, Karin Knapp, Olga Govortsova and Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova all have very low projected holds with only Govortsova over 50%.

Stats also recommend laying the underdog when a break up as well.

Jelena Jankovic (1.10) and Garbine Muguruza (1.21) are two short priced favourites that I think are a little too short - although both have very strong records when heavy favourites.

Muguruza in particular has now played 12 matches already this season and may start to get tired soon, especially after surgery last season which ruled her out for the latter stages of 2013.

WTA favourites I feel worthy of taking on are Marina Erakovic (1.72) against the promising Zarina Diyas who actually has the better projected hold.  Laying the New Zealander's serve appeals here.

Carla Suarez Navarro (1.29) also seems short against Galina Voskoboeva - it's not clay.  However the Spaniard wins much more than her fair share as favourite so it's tough to oppose her even though she does seem very short.  She may not hold as easily as the price suggests so taking her serve on can be considered.

I can see three sets between Stefanie Voegele and Dominika Cibulkova (1.56) with both players not averse to a 3 setter.  Laying the first set winner could work well.

Mandy Minella against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is not a match I'm especially excited about - Pav seems a fair price at 1.45 and projected holds are not especially low.  Laying Minella a break up is statistically viable.

My model reflected value on Caroline Wozniacki (1.27) against Christina McHale but I worry about the Dane's ability in the heat, with her struggling in hot conditions before (I remember vs Qiang Wang in Kuala Lumpur last year, for example).

Assuming she's not suffering from heat exhaustion, she should be able to break the McHale serve regularly and laying McHale a break up statistically works.

I make Elina Svitolina (1.33) a little value against Olivia Rogowska but nothing huge - Rogowska has an awful WTA record and stats and Svitolina should have some joy on her serve.

Finally the match which is likely to have the most breaks is Bojana Jovanovski (1.65) against Yvonne Meusburger with projected holds both low.  

SPs seem reasonable and I like the idea of laying Jovanovski a break up in this at a fairly short price.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!


                  5 SET WINNER LIST
  
Throughout the Grand Slam, I'm going to keep updates for the players that have played 5 set matches in the ATP event - with respect to the article I wrote on the subject last year.  With conditions very hot in Australia currently, avoiding accumulated fatigue can never have been more important...

I will keep this at the top of the page throughout the event so you can refer to it quickly at all times.

5 Set Match, ranked inside top 50:-

Kevin Anderson (R1)
Jerzy Janowicz (R1)
Tommy Robredo (R1)
Julien Benneteau (R1 - eliminated R2)
Jarkko Nieminen (R1 - eliminated R2)
Kei Nishikori (R1)
Andreas Seppi (R1)
Gilles Simon (R1)
Marin Cilic (R1)
Florian Mayer (R2)

5 Set Match, ranked outside top 50:-

Adrian Mannarino (R1 - eliminated R2)
Matthew Ebden (R1 - eliminated R2)
Nikolay Davydenko (R1 - eliminated R2)
Vincent Millot (R1)

                     14TH JANUARY - 
              AUSTRALIAN OPEN DAY 2

Kei Nishikori should make light work of Marinko Matosevic...

As with Monday, there are a huge amount of question marks surrounding the fitness of many players - and the heat in Australia will not help players of dubious fitness.

On that basis, I feel that being selective about positions is key.

One player I feel is good value is Kei Nishikori at around 1.32 against Marinko Matosevic.  

The Japanese is by far the superior player on the surface and the stats in my latest article for Pinnacle Sports which can be seen here illustrate that his matches in Grand Slams tend to be short.   

On that basis I feel Nishikori can make light work of Matosevic, who has a low projected hold, according to the TennisRatings Daily Spreadsheets.

Furthermore, with Nishikori recovering a break deficit a strong 42.11% in 2013, and Matosevic letting a break lead slip 42.50% last year, the combined score when Matosevic is a break up is 84.61 - well above the preferred 75.  

Opposing the Australian journeyman when prices make it viable to do so looks like a good strategy.

A match where there could be breaks of serve is Roberto Bautista-Agut against Tim Smyczek.  

Projected holds are low for both players and show that whilst Bautista-Agut is a worthy favourite, the 1.36 about him is perhaps a little on the short side.

Smyczek in particular has a low projected hold though, and is very weak generally on serve.  The American blew a 4-1 double break lead over Yen-Hsun Lu recently, losing the set 4-6.

According to the Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet, laying either player a break up should be viable.

Other ATP matches where there could be service breaks include Vincent Millot vs Wayne Odesnik, Robin Haase vs Donald Young, Jimmy Wang vs Yen-Hsun Lu (who may be tired after his run to the Auckland final last week) and Radek Stepanek's clash with the under-rated Blaz Kavcic.

In WTA action, I quite like the odds-against on Lesia Tsurenko against Varvara Lepchenko in a match where both players do not have strong records on the surface.  

Actually Tsurenko has the higher hard court win percentage in the past 12 months and whilst her serve is weak (she's held just 52.3% on the surface in that time period) her return game is immeasurably better than Lepchenko, who has broken a terrible 27.5% on hard courts in the last 12 months.

The American also has very poor break point conversion stats and I feel Tsurenko can cause an upset here.

Projected holds are both low but Lepchenko's is especially low - laying her service games when the set is on serve seems a good starting point.

Chanelle Scheepers' match against Yvonne Meusburger is certainly one where the serve should not dominate with the Austrian's matches tending to have many breaks in them.

There could be some value on Meusburger at the current 1.62 and unsurprisingly projected holds are very low, particularly on Scheepers.

In 2013 when Scheepers was a break up, she lost the lead to go back on serve 53.45% of the time, and when you consider Meusburger recovered a break deficit 55.56%, the combined score on Scheepers when a break up is 109.01 - above the preferred WTA score of 105.  

On that basis, laying Scheepers a break up is statistically viable, and so is laying her serve when on serve and the price allows.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!

                      13TH JANUARY - 
               AUSTRALIAN OPEN DAY 1

Matthew Ebden could struggle with a long match against Nicolas Mahut...

With there being 64 matches tomorrow, I will be fairly brief with my thoughts - workload has been high since the draw and this won't change for most of the first week!

You can check out my tournament previews for Pinnacle Sports and my Betting 360 Podcast where I discuss my tournament thoughts amongst other things via the links on the left hand column.

My new article for Pinnacle Sports is also online and focuses on the poor record of big servers in Grand Slams.  The article can be viewed at this link.

TennisRatings Tips and TennisRatings Spreadsheet subscribers have had their recommendations and spreadsheets sent so are all set for the day's play tomorrow.

There are so many players with fitness and form issues, more than I can remember in recent times so I'd definitely recommend doing your research prior to committing large stakes.  Sample sizes are also small for many players.

The players I feel are poor value and have a low projected hold are the following:-

De Schepper (vs Wu)
Hajek (vs Dzumhur)
Andujar (vs Ramos)
Kubot (vs Davydenko)
Fognini (vs Bogomolov)
Sela (vs Nieminen)
Falconi (vs Medina-Garrigues) although AMG has not impressed at all lately
Tatishvili (vs Puig)
Beck (vs Martic)
Goerges (vs Errani)
Niculescu (vs Peer)
Zheng (vs Vinci)
Barthel (vs Zhang)
Dolonc (vs Arruabarena)
Davis (vs Vickery)

I also like the chances of Mahut vs Ebden (the Australian should struggle with a long match) and I feel Sam Querrey is too short against a capable opponent in Santiago Giraldo, with the big American having poor results in this part of the world.

Have a great Australian Open!

     10TH JANUARY MATCH PREVIEW -
               PIRONKOVA VS KERBER

Tsvetana Pironkova has surprised everyone with her run to the Sydney final...

With the final of WTA Sydney yet to start this morning, it takes the focus for today's match preview.

Whilst one finalist - Angelique Kerber - was fairly predictable, the other - Tsvetana Pironkova - certainly was not.

The Bulgarian had a 9-21 hard court record in 2013 so this run has come from nowhere, and her record is incomparable to Kerber's 44-22 surface record last year.

In the last 12 months, Kerber has held 10.2% more and broken 4.2% more on hard court, against a generally higher level of opponent.  According to the TennisRatings Daily Spreadsheets, these stats give her a projected hold a little above WTA average, whilst Pironkova has a low projected hold for this match.

These stats, as well as Kerber's superior break point stats, indicated value on the German world number nine overnight at 1.29, with the current best price of 1.23 much more in line with my model which priced her at 1.19.

TennisRatings Tips Subscribers were recommended Kerber -1.5 sets at 1.77 with Pinnacle Sports yesterday afternoon and this price has now gone into 1.67 so we've definitely beaten the market regardless of the outcome.

With a low projected hold, opposing Pironkova's serve when viable price-wise should be a good line, and also opposing her should she lead by a break also looks statistically positive.

According to the WTA Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet, Pironkova loses a break lead slightly below average in 2013 - 46.43% - but with Kerber recovering a break deficit a superb 60.24% in 2013 this takes the combined score when Pironkova is a break up over 105 as specified in the break-back percentages article.

From the stats, opposing Pironkova in many ways should have a high long-term expectation.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!



     9TH JANUARY MATCH PREVIEWS

John Isner has a very poor record in Asia/Australasia...

There are eight matches in the ATP events overnight as the two tournaments reach the quarter-final stage, whilst in WTA action there are four quarter-finals in Hobart and two semi-finals in Sydney.

There's not a lot to get excited over in the men's events - the courts are playing fairly fast with 80.4% service holds in Sydney and 79.7% in Auckland - both over the ATP average of 78.3%.

Obviously this means that laying the server and laying the player a break up must be done in very select circumstances and there really isn't much to whet the appetite in this respect.

One player that should struggle to hold serve is Guillermo Garcia-Lopez as he takes on fellow Spaniard, David Ferrer, who takes an old 5-1 head to head lead into the encounter in Auckland.

I feel Ferrer is a little short at 1.20 but there's not a great deal in it - his projected hold is pretty much exactly the ATP mean whilst Garcia-Lopez's is low.  

It's worth noting however that Ferrer tends to be poor taking break points and Garcia-Lopez's break point 'clutch' score, according to the TennisRatings Daily Spreadsheets is high, and whilst projected holds recommend laying his serve when viable, it might be worth taking profit or clearing liability at a score like 0-40 or 15-40.

When looking at the Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet stats, it's clear that they support laying Garcia-Lopez if he leads by a break.  This line was recommended by the stats to daily spreadsheet subscribers for Donald Young (combined score 94.55) against Ferrer yesterday, and the American gave up a break lead all three times in the first set.

The combined score on Garcia-Lopez when a break up is a still high 83.44 - in 2013 he let a break lead slip back to being on serve 38.89%, whilst Ferrer recovered a deficit a strong 44.55%.  This combined score is above the required 75 as detailed in the break-back percentages article.

On that basis, laying the lower-ranked Spaniard when a break up seems very viable.

The other ATP match I want to focus on is the clash of the big servers as Philipp Kohlschreiber takes on John Isner.  

These two players have played five career matches and all but one have gone to a deciding set (the other one was a 4 set Grand Slam match).

My Americans abroad part two article illustrates how Isner has a weak record in Asia/Australasia and I think the German is the value pick at around evens for this.

Unsurprisingly projected holds are very high but with a superior return game, Kohlschreiber has a slight edge on these.  He also has a better break point 'clutch' score so I feel he should edge the key points.  

With a high projected hold and high clutch score, I like the line of backing Kohlschreiber on serve when losing on serve at points specified in the TennisRatings Trading Handbook for this match.

In women's action, the match I feel has the highest potential for breaks is Monica Niculescu vs Estrella Cabeza Candela in Hobart with projected holds both low - particularly Cabeza Candela's.

Sample size on hard courts is small for Cabeza Candela with the Spaniard having played just seven matches (4-3 record) on the surface in the past year and I think the unorthodox Niculescu is a little short at around 1.30 for this.  

I do feel the Romanian is obviously justifiably favourite but she may not be dominant on serve by any means.

Laying either player on serve is statistically viable here, and both players have a combined score of over the required 105 when a break up, so laying them when a break up can also be considered.

In other matches Klara Zakopalova has a fairly low projected hold against Alison Riske, whilst I feel in Sydney both favourites - Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber - are a little short but will probably make it through eventually.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!


     8TH JANUARY MATCH PREVIEWS

Opposing Carla Suarez Navarro in various guises when viable appears the way forward today...

There's still five matches left today so I thought I'd take some time to analyse those, with an ATP match at Sydney, and two WTA matches at Hobart & Sydney apiece coming up in the next few hours.

The men's match in Sydney features Alexandr Dolgopolov and Jerzy Janowicz and I'm finding it hard to imagine many less appealing betting propositions with many intangibles involved in this match-up.

There can be little doubt that Dolgopolov is one of the most inconsistent players on tour and with Janowicz recovering from injury that saw him withdraw from the Hopman Cup last week, there are obviously huge doubts about his overall level of fitness.

On that basis this is definitely a match best given a wide berth to, and I recommend not getting involved - there has also been a delay in Sydney so this match may get put back.

The next WTA match is in Hobart and it's venue-loving Mona Barthel against Monica Niculescu.

Barthel has made the final here in the past two years, losing the final last year to Elena Vesnina and winning as a qualifier in 2012.  Clearly she enjoys conditions here.

According to the TennisRatings Daily Spreadsheet, projected holds are low for this and marginally favour Niculescu - however Barthel has a better break point 'clutch' score and when taking into account Barthel's record here I feel Barthel should be a little shorter than the 2.10 current price.

When looking at the Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet stats, they also favour a line of opposing Niculescu.

The Romanian gave a break lead up 53.85% in 2013 and with Barthel recovering a break deficit 52.54%, this takes the combined score when Niculescu is a break up over the required 105 as detailed in the break-back percentages article.

Laying Niculescu's serve when the set is on serve or laying her when she is a break up statistically appeals.

The second match in Tasmania is the clash between Garbine Muguruza and 2012 finalist Yanina Wickmayer.

There can be little doubt Wickmayer's level has dropped since then and Muguruza has done pretty well since her return to tour after surgery.  

However, I feel the current 1.41 price is very short on the Spaniard, with projected holds both above the WTA average.  

I feel Muguruza should be favourite but this price represents no value.

Sadly break point stats do not support backing either player when losing on serve despite high projected holds, and the stats do not support laying either player a break up either - particularly Muguruza has a much lower than average expectation of losing a break lead.

This is probably a match best avoided from a trading perspective.

In WTA Sydney, there is an intriguing clash between two Americans in Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Madison Keys.  

Keys opened as slight favourite and has now drifted to around 2.20 which I find a little strange.  

I was considering adding her to the TennisRatings Tips portfolio for today but eventually declined the option, going with Bautista-Agut and Tursunov (both winners) and Shuai Zhang (a loser) in today's three recommendations.

Both players are very strong in their respective price ranges - Mattek-Sands as a slight favourite and Keys as a slight underdog but projected holds are in Keys' favour - on hard courts in the past 12 months she's held more (72.5% to 68.4%) and broken more (36.9% to 34.6%) so for me the opening price was more than justified.  

Break point stats, as with Muguruza/Wickmayer, do not make backing either player when losing on serve viable enough so it's tough to recommend a trading avenue here as well - if I had to I'd recommend backing Keys when losing on serve (I'd rather do this than on Muguruza/Wickmayer) but it's not statistically strong enough for me to consider viable.

The final match in Sydney is between Carla Suarez Navarro and Angelique Kerber and it's the German that represents value for me, even at a low price of around 1.28.  She opened at 1.35 which was a huge price in my opinion.

Quite simply, Kerber is a much better hard courter, winning 32 of 48 matches in the last 12 months, compared to CSN's 16-15 record.  

Kerber has held 11.6% more and broken 4.4% more and when you also consider her superb break point stats this price is value in my eyes.

Suarez Navarro has a very low projected hold, and with Kerber being very strong when a break down (she recovered a break deficit an excellent 60.24% in 2013) and Suarez Navarro's record being mediocre a break up - she gave up a break lead 54.00% in 2013), the combined score when Suarez Navarro is a break up is a large 114.24 - well above the required 105 as detailed earlier.

Therefore, if it's viable to lay Suarez Navarro's serve when the match is on serve (e.g. if she is a set up or in a deciding set) then statistics recommend doing so, and furthermore they recommend laying her a break up in this too.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!

              

                6TH JANUARY UPDATE

Monica Puig impresses me much more on clay than hard court

Just two late matches remain today, both in the women's event in Hobart.

In around 20 minutes time, Monica Puig (above, pictured) takes on Elena Vesnina and I make the Russian value at just over 1.50 for this match.

Vesnina is much the superior hard courter with 66.6% holds to Puig's 59.9%, and she's broken 40.0% to Puig's 34.6% in the last 12 months on the surface.

The Puerto Rican has won just 5 from 17 hard court matches in the past 12 months and the highest ranked player she's beaten on the surface is Su Wei Hsieh (perhaps falsely ranked at 42 at the time - she's much worse than that based on the stats).  Vesnina, being 25th currently, would be her biggest scalp.

When Vesnina's much better break point stats are also factored in, there's no doubt she should be shorter than starting prices.

Puig's projected hold is low for this and opposing her serve when realistically possible surely has to be a viable strategy.  However, it's worth mentioning Vesnina does not have superb break recovery stats, only recovering a break deficit 43.28% in 2013.  I think I'd prefer laying Puig's serve when the match is on serve (if prices realistically allow) as opposed to laying her a break up in this.

The final match in Tasmania is between Shenzhen finalist Shuai Peng and the 19 year old Storm Sanders.

Peng will have had to travel from China in the last 48 hours and may not be in peak condition for this whatsoever, but I feel she should still get the job done and 1.20 is a realistic starting price.

Indeed, my basic model made her a fair bit shorter for this but when I factored in the fatigue she surely will have, 1.20 seems spot on.

Projected holds show Peng to be above average whilst Sanders' is very low.  Obviously it's not viable to lay a player priced 6.00 serving to start with, so a watching brief is probably required initially.

Peng's pretty solid a break up, losing the lead a below-average 39.13% but she's pretty average when a break down, recovering the deficit to go back on serve 49.21%.  

With there being a lack of data on Sanders (I was forced to use adjusted qualifier stats to price up the match) there are a lot of intangibles here so this may not be the best game of the day to trade.  

That was probably Beck v Jovanovski - TennisRatings Spreadsheet and TennisRatings Tips subscribers will be able to testify that this was a match strongly identified in this regard!

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!

                5th JANUARY UPDATE

As regular readers know, I don't always update at weekends, as I find it important to spend some time with my family and relax a little.

I'm off to a wedding today so there won't be any updates on here, but naturally spreadsheet and tips subscribers will get their data in full as usual.

It was a superb week for TennisRatings Tips subscribers with the service winning 13 from 23 bets.  A stake of 13.68 points generated profits of 2.92 points (21.34% ROI).  

292 recommendations have been given since the service began in August with 12.97 points profit generated from an average stake of 0.92 points (ROI of 4.83%).

Outright recommendations were:-

Pospisil (semi-finals)
Paire (quarter-finals - somehow eliminated despite serving for the match 3 times)
Jovanovski (1st round)

There will be a full update of match previews tomorrow!

       3rd JANUARY MATCH PREVIEWS

Maria Sharapova has averaged just 2.79 games per set against Serena Williams in 9 matches since 2010...

The quarter-finals of Chennai and the semi-finals of Doha, as well as the second semi-final in WTA Brisbane are starting in the next hour or two so today's previews will focus on matches from these venues.

The second semi-final in Brisbane between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova is where we start today and it's difficult to work out a trading angle for this match.

I wanted to include it in the previews however, as it's arguably the match of the day, and I thought many people would be interested in trading it, which I'd probably discourage.

Williams starts the match as favourite at around 1.20, and based on the stats it seems a little short.  On hard court in the past 12 months she's held 85.2% to Sharapova's 80.0%, and broken 50.8% to 51.5%.  

However, those stats do not include the utterly dominant head to head record that the world number one enjoys, with Williams leading 14-2 (and 9-0 since 2010).

In those 9 matches since 2010 Sharapova has taken just one set - and has been on the end of some thrashings, taking just 53 games across 19 sets (average of 2.79 games per set).  

When the head to head record is also taken into account the pre-match price on Williams appears much more justified.

According to the TennisRatings Daily Spreadsheet, projected holds are above average for Williams and around average for Sharapova, so opposing the server is not recommended.   

It's also tough to recommend a line with regards to laying the player a break up - both players are the best in WTA for holding onto break leads, with Williams letting a break lead slip just 20.28%, and Sharapova doing so 28.21% in 2013, according to the Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet.  Whilst Williams does recover a break deficit the best on tour at an incredible 75.56%, this does place the combined score when Sharapova is a break up at 103.77, just below the preferred 105 as detailed in the WTA break-back percentages article.

So for me, this is a match best watched.  I don't have a problem with not getting involved if there are no statistical edges.

There's lower calibre action in the ATP and one match that catches my eye is in Chennai, between Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Dudi Sela.

There should be many opportunities in this to oppose the server in this match with Sela much stronger on return than serve.

The Israeli has held just 62.0% in ATP hard court matches in the last 12 months but has broken an impressive 31.1% in them, so it's no surprise when I state that projected holds are very low for this match.

Sela's is particularly low, and I'm surprised to see Roger-Vasselin available for as big a price as 1.75.  My model made him a fair bit shorter.

On that basis, I feel opposing Sela in various guises is the way forward.  

Laying his serve when the match is on serve appears viable in almost all circumstances, and with him giving up a break lead 56.25% in 2013, and Roger-Vasselin recovering a break deficit 34.43% (around the top 100 average), the combined score when Sela is a break up is 90.68.  

This is the highest in the ATP today and is well above the preferred 75 that I detailed in my ATP break-back percentages article.

So statistically, laying Sela a break up should have very positive expectation.

I'm also looking forward to Marcel Granollers against Benoit Paire at the same venue, with the erratic Frenchman the justified favourite at around 1.70.

Paire destroyed Granollers in their last meeting - the Rome quarter-finals on clay in May last year - 6-1, 6-0, so should be in confident mood for this, and as one of my outright selections for TennisRatings Tips subscribers for Chennai this week, naturally I hope he gets the victory today.

Paire edges two low projected holds and I can see breaks in this.  With starting prices appearing reasonable, laying either players serve seems a decent line when the match is on serve, although I do slightly prefer this line on Granollers, who has the lower projected hold.

Granollers also may struggle to hold onto a break lead.  In 2013 he gave up a break lead 37.18% (about 5% above average) and Paire recovered a break deficit a strong 42.17% - giving a combined score of 79.35.

With Granollers only recovering a break deficit 25.81%, the reverse if Paire led by a break definitely cannot be considered.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!

      2nd JANUARY MATCH PREVIEWS

Dustin Brown should have a strong chance against Peter Gojowczyk today...

Apologies for no update yesterday - I had a crazy day away from the tennis world!

As previously has been the case this week, the focus is on Doha and Chennai with those events scheduled to start in several hours, plus the evening match in Brisbane.

Projected holds in the upcoming men's matches today are generally high and there is none more so than that evening match in Brisbane between Kevin Anderson and Sam Groth

Both players obviously are much stronger on serve than return although Anderson's superior quality and ATP experience justifies his starting price of around 1.35.

Naturally, the projected holds for both players are very high and both also have a high break point 'clutch' score, so in the fairly rare scenarios that a break point occurs, both players should have above average opportunities to save them.

On that basis, backing the player losing in their service game at points specified in the TennisRatings Trading Handbook should work well.

Due to the fact Groth has little recent ATP experience I have no in-play data for him but it's worth noting that Anderson's ability to recover break deficits are much higher than a typical 'big server'.  

The match today where I'd expect breaks to occur more often than any other is in a highly intriguing clash in Chennai between the volatile Italian, Fabio Fognini and the promising local player, Yuki Bhambri.

As many know, Fognini is much less effective on hard courts than on clay, and this is a great leveller in this instance.  He only held serve 66.2% of the time on the surface in 2013 which is just over 12% below the ATP surface average, and it's clear that Bhambri is no mug on hard courts, accumulating a strong 11-4 Challenger record on the surface last year - and at the age of 21 has chances to improve.

The market was on Bhambri as soon as prices were released with his price dropping from over 4 to the current price available of around 2.80.

Based on my adjustment to his Challenger stats this still represents some value but I stopped short of recommending Bhambri to the TennisRatings Tips subscribers due to Fognini's generally solid record as a favourite (10-5 last year when priced 1.50 to 1.99), and even when hard courts are factored in too, he's won 7 from 9 in his career in this price range.

What I do expect to happen though is for prices to fluctuate a lot in-play and it wouldn't surprise me at all if Bhambri traded odds-on during this match.

Both players have a very low projected hold and their serves can be laid pretty much whenever it's viable based on the price.  Whilst I don't have in-play data on Bhambri (for the same reason as Groth) it' worth noting Fognini, according to the Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet, gave up a break lead a very poor 46.30% in 2013 - so with him having a low projected hold and being a no-value favourite, if he trades short odds-on being a break up or a set & break up (and Bhambri looks reasonably competitive) then some good, low-risk, laying opportunities may present themselves.

The final match I want to assess is the match between two players more at home on the Challenger tour - Dustin Brown (above, pictured) against Peter Gojowcyzk in Doha.

'Dready' doesn't play a great deal on hard courts on the Challenger tour but the stats I have on him are impressive - he's held 92.2% in the last 3 years on the surface in Challengers.  

Gojowcyzk had a poor 6-7 record in Challengers on hard court in 2013, holding a mere 71.4% and breaking 23.0%.  There were several very poor defeats, including when priced 1.13 against Miguel-Angel Reyes-Varela (WR 597), and at 1.40 against Louk Sorensen (1064).

Brown also beat Gojowczyk 6-1, 6-7, 6-3 in qualifiers for this event last year and has much more ATP experience, with 44 main tour matches compared to Gojowczyk's 6.  All three head to head matches have gone three sets.

I really feel Brown is the value choice at around 1.75 - he has a high projected hold, whereas Gojowczyk's is low, plus he has significantly better break point stats.  As a serve orientated player, that's always a positive for Brown.

In-play, laying Gojowczyk's serve is definitely an option, as well as backing Brown when losing on serve (as with Anderson/Groth in the first match preview).

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!

31st DECEMBER MATCH PREVIEWS

The lack of market support on Aljaz Bedene is a little surprising...

With matches starting in around an hour in Chennai and Doha today's focus is on those events.

The Chennai event largely resembles a Challenger field whilst Doha has a mix of strong players with a few no-hopers given wild cards.

The first match I'm keen to assess is a clash between two players much more comfortable on clay - Henri Laaksonen and Aljaz Bedene.

Projected holds for this match are very low indeed, with Laaksonen's particularly low.  He also has poor break point stats and laying his serve pretty much full stop whenever viable should have a high expectation based on the stats.

Laaksonen didn't even play a hard court match in Challengers in 2013 and his indoor hard record was a very poor 3-6.  

Bedene made a surprise run to the semi-finals here last year so has ranking points to defend, and I'm surprised to see him as big as 1.94 and drifting like a barge (he was best price 1.68 when I compiled the TennisRatings Daily Spreadsheets last night).

Based on this odd drift perhaps a watching brief is best initially, but if Bedene gets a look or two on the Laaksonen serve then laying the Swiss' serve should work well.

Other matches in India where servers should struggle are Pablo Carreno-Busta vs Yuki Bhambri, and Marcel Granollers' match with Radu Albot.  I feel Granollers is a little short at around 1.35 although Albot is nothing special at all - just that the Spaniard doesn't convince on hard court, holding 73.4% and breaking 21.9% on the surface in 2013.

In Qatar, I expect the clash between two qualifiers in Peter Gojowcyzk and Dominic Thiem to have breaks with projected holds low.  Thiem is a decent prospect but has little match experience on the surface, and his price of 1.75 seems about right.

Finally, I feel David Ferrer is a little short at 1.18 against Alexandr Dolgopolov, with the stats indicating he should be nearer 1.30.  

A pre-match lay to back can be considered here, especially considering his projected hold is low, so an early break could well materialise.

Dolgopolov's projected hold is very low though and I'd stop well short of an outright bet on the erratic Ukrainian.  According to the Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet, he gave up a break lead 35.85% in 2013, and Ferrer recovering a break deficit 44.55%.  This takes the combined score when Dolgopolov leads by a break of over 75, so laying him a break up should be a move with positive expectation.

All that remains for me to say is thanks for your support in 2013 and now it's time to look towards a great 2014!

  30th DECEMBER MATCH PREVIEWS

Laying Tim Smyczek a break up looks a superb trading opportunity...

There's ATP action during the European daytime today with a late match in Brisbane, and a full schedule in Chennai and Doha.

Several matches in India catch my eye with the stats from the TennisRatings Daily Spreadsheets indicating that these have high expectations for profitable swing trading opportunities.

The first to take place is Yen-Hsun Lu against Tim Smyczek.  

My article, Americans Abroad (Part Two) illustrated that US players have a poor record in Asia/Australasia and Smyczek has only played two matches in the continents in the past two years at ATP level.  

Whilst it's perhaps a little unfair to criticise him overly for this due to his ranking not always being high enough for direct entry to events, he's shown little desire to qualify for any, much preferring the comfort of the US Challenger circuit.

Both players have a low projected hold for this match with 'Challenger King' Lu having slightly the better, justifying his status as pre-match favourite at the current 1.65.

My ATP break-back percentages article illustrated that when the combined break-back score is over 75, there is a much higher than average expectation for break-backs to occur - and this is the case for both players.

According to the Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet, in 2013 Lu lost a break lead a solid 25.58% of the time (below average), but Smyczek recovered a deficit an excellent 52.38% (although from a fairly small sample).  Smyczek, who inspires little confidence when serving, gave up a break lead 43.48% and with Lu recovering a break deficit 48.98% of the time, the combined score on Smyczek's serve is 92.46 (the highest ATP combined score today).  

On this basis, laying Smyczek when a break up looks a superb trading opportunity.  Laying either player's serve until there is a break can also be considered, although it's worth pointing out that Smyczek has the better break point stats.

These opportunities also exist in the second match that interests me in Chennai, with Dudi Sela taking on Lukas Lacko.  

I'm quite surprised to see Lacko as a marginal underdog as my model has him a favourite here - with the better projected hold and break point stats.

I would be extremely surprised if there weren't a fair few breaks in this, with both players having weak serves.  Sela has much the weaker serve but a more superior return game, and the net result of the stats is that projected holds are very low.  

Sela gave up a break lead a very poor 56.25% of the time, and although Lacko's break deficit recovery was mediocre at 27.50%, the combined score is enough to take it over the critical 75.

Lacko gave up a break lead 34.78% in 2013 whilst Sela managed to recover a break deficit 48.00% of the time - again enough for the combined score to be over 75.  

Therefore laying either player when a break up is a statistically viable option, and so is laying either player's serve (particularly Sela - who has the marginally lower projected hold and worse break point stats).

In Doha, the most likely match for breaks and swings is undoubtedly Daniel Gimeno-Traver against Lukasz Kubot.

ATP recent hard court sample size isn't the biggest on either player but I do feel Kubot is short at around 1.65, with the lower projected hold.

Whilst undoubtedly Gimeno-Traver is more of a clay courter, his hard/indoor results are not nearly as horrific as some other clay courters (e.g. Filippo Volandri!) and as mentioned, he's actually got slightly the better projected hold from the data I do have.

The Spaniard's projected hold is a touch below ATP average with Kubot's a few percent lower, and both players have a combined score of over 75 on their serves.

Gimeno-Traver gave up a break lead 48.00% of the time in 2013 with Kubot recovering a break deficit 36.73% (combined score when Gimeno-Traver's is a break up of 84.73).

Kubot was atrocious in 2013 when a break up, giving the lead back to go on serve 51.43% of the time.  To put this into context, it's above the WTA average...

Gimeno-Traver recovered a break deficit 31.03%, which is very slightly below average, resulting in a combined score of 82.46 when Kubot is a break up.

I feel that with a low projected hold and, in my opinion, being too short pre-match, opposing Kubot's serve from the off is a solid plan.  Laying either player when a break up can also be considered, and due to this on Kubot (as well as his poor break point clutch score) I especially like laying him when a break up.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow!


    29th DECEMBER MATCH PREVIEWS 

Silvia Soler-Espinosa should struggle to hold serve tomorrow...

We are back!  After almost two months the 2014 season starts early Sunday morning UK time with five WTA matches in Brisbane, and two in Shenzhen.

If you haven't checked out the website during the off-season, I'd definitely recommend checking out the articles I've added in that time (all linked on the left hand margin) - in particular the creating a tennis trading script which I feel is of great value to readers.  I've also added two previews of the main contenders for the Australian Open that I've written for Pinnacle Sports on the left margin.

Certainly several matches appear very intriguing tomorrow with there appearing to be a fair bit of value currently on the card.  I'd definitely recommend a little caution for the opening round of matches regarding staking though.

It's also worth ensuring there's good liquidity in the matches you want to trade as the Australasian matches are not suited to many European traders who may not be interested in doing an all-night stint!

The event in Shenzhen was added to the WTA Calendar in 2013 so data on the conditions is fairly limited.  What was apparent last year was that conditions certainly didn't favour servers, with just 56.0% of service games being held - 7.1% below the WTA hard court average.

The match in China that interests me is the clash between two weak servers in Silvia Soler-Espinosa and Lesya Tsurenko.

According to the TennisRatings Daily Spreadsheets, projected holds are very low for both players and Soler-Espinosa (above, pictured) should have particular issues holding serve.  

In the Spaniard's 11 hard court matches last year, she held just 51.4% of service games, with Tsurenko barely better at 51.5%.  However, the difference came in the percentage that they broke their opponents, with Soler-Espinosa doing so just 28.6% of the time, and Tsurenko achieving this an impressive 46.4%.

Based on that, the 1.67 available at the time of writing on Tsurenko appears very generous - although she doesn't have the best record as slight favourite.

New to 2014 is the WTA Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet, and the data in this shows that Soler-Espinosa is the player who is most likely to give up a break lead tomorrow with a combined score of 107.57 on her serve.  This is above the crucial 105 that I established in my break back percentages article.  Therefore laying Soler-Espinosa a break up is definitely a viable option.

Over in Brisbane, the slightly above-evens current price on Elina Svitolina appeals against Varvara Lepchenko.

Lepchenko was very poor on hard courts last season with a 7-16 record, and Svitolina's record was much better (8-8) on the surface.

The promising 19 year old Ukrainian also had much better surface hold/break stats, holding 63.6% to Lepchenko's 60.9%, and breaking 35.4% to 26.7%.

Projected holds are high for Svitolina and around the WTA average for Lepchenko, and with Lepchenko having awful break point stats (she converted just 40.5% of break points in 2013) it could be worth backing Svitolina when losing on serve at points detailed in the TennisRatings Trading Handbook.

The WTA Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet also indicates that Soler-Espinosa had great issues breaking opponents in the latter games of sets in 2013, doing so just 22.86% of the time across all surfaces - 8.54% below her overall average.

I also want to discuss Madison Keys' chances against Stefanie Voegele.

Keys is a player with huge potential and I'm pretty surprised to see prices just over 1.50 on her - my model made her much shorter.

There can be little doubt that the young American is by some distance the superior hard courter with a 14-10 win-loss record in 2013 on the surface.  Voegele's record was significantly worse, winning just four from 14 matches.

Keys held serve an impressive 73.1% to Voegele's 63.2% in those matches, and broke 36.4% to Voegele's 28.2%, so the 1.55 currently available appears good value.

These stats give Keys a high projected hold and Voegele one around the WTA average, and it's worth mentioning the combined break-back score on Keys' serve is low, indicating that she should give a break lead back a fair bit less than average - a low priced lay of Keys if a break up definitely does not appeal.

Indeed, these stats back up my point of view that one of Keys' strength is a solid mental attitude that can get her very far in the women's game, and it's also worth pointing out that she's in the top 5 in the WTA for holding serve in late games of sets, according to the WTA Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet.

Voegele has great fighting qualities, with an excellent deciding set record (77.8% in 2013) but I'd expect Keys to be too good here.

Good luck in the markets and I hope you all have a great 2014 season! 
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