March 2014 Archive

30th MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS

Novak Djokovic's recent matches with Rafael Nadal have featured more breaks than average...

It's the men's final today as the tournament in Miami comes to an end.

As you will be able to see from the stats at the top of the page, the slow courts led to excellent trading conditions in Florida with 72.31% of the situations with a WTA player leading by a break recommended by the combined scores in the Tier Two Daily Spreadsheet losing that lead to go back on serve.

This is a gigantic 22.75% above the top 100 WTA 12-month break-back mean and shows what an edge these statistics give.

Furthermore, what I discussed in my latest website article - A Trading Deconstruction of Radwanska vs Cibulkova - was apparent again last night with Li's Rolling Projected Hold varying sharply at points in her capitulation from a double break 5-2 up against Serena Williams in the women's final last night.

The men's final features the top two seeds, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic (above, pictured), and any match between these two superb competitors usually makes for a good spectacle from a neutral standpoint, and more importantly, often positive trading conditions.

The Serb has taken their last two meetings - on indoor hard at the World Tour Finals at the o2 in November, and on hard court in Beijing in October.

However, prior to this, Nadal had won six of eight meetings since January 2012 and has a slight 22-17 head to head lead (as the older player this long term head to head lead isn't a huge surprise, and is pretty irrelevant).  

These ten matches overall since January 2012 have featured more service breaks than the ATP mean with 79 out of 307 service games were broken - 74.27% service holds.  

This is around 4% below the overall ATP mean and on a slow hard court, more of the same is likely today.

These stats are also supported by my projected hold model's stats, with both players' projected holds below average.

Djokovic - favourite at around 1.73 for this - edges these projected holds and has marginally better hard court stats.

He holds 89.1% to Nadal's 89.5%, but breaks slightly more, doing so 33.9% compared to 31.6% in the last 12 months.

He also has had a far less arduous journey to the final, benefitting from two walkovers donated by Kei Nishikori (semi-final) and Florian Mayer (round of 32), meaning that he has had to play a mere six sets to get to the final, with straight set wins over Jeremy Chardy, Tommy Robredo and Andy Murray to advance to this stage.

Nadal himself took advantage of Tomas Berdych's walkover in the semi-finals and has played nine sets to get here.

Milos Raonic took a set from him in the quarter-finals but apart from that, seven out of the eight sets have been won by Nadal at a dominant scoreline of 6-3 or lower, so it's fair to say that these slow conditions suit the Spaniard.

Regarding trading avenues, I feel that laying either player's serve at points recommended by the Rolling Projected Holds in the Tier Two Spreadsheets is viable, although laying either player a break up falls slightly short, statistically.

Djokovic is the more solid at defending break leads, losing that lead just 17.0% in the last 12 months, with Nadal slightly worse at 21.5%.  Both are still excellent compared to the ATP mean of 32.3% though.

Nadal is marginally the better at recovering a break deficit, doing so 55.6% to Djokovic's 51.8%, and this means that combined scores are just shy of the 75 required for laying a player a break up in the ATP.

Regarding laying the first set winner, this is something I feel is better not left to script, with the game state a much better indicator of the viability of this type of trade.

However, it's always worth knowing that five out of the six meetings since 2012 that were in the best of three format were won in straight sets, with Nadal's win over Djokovic in Montreal the sole three setter in this time period.

This should be an excellent final and a fitting end to the tournament - there are no men's tournaments next week but I'll be back tomorrow with two new WTA events in Charleston and Monterrey.

  28th MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS

Tomas Berdych has an atrocious career record against Rafael Nadal...

It's men's semi-finals day today with just two matches on the schedule tonight.

Conqueror of David Ferrer and Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori, goes for the treble tonight in his match against Novak Djokovic.

Starting at 7pm UK time, the Serb starts at 1.15, which as you'd expect is about right, although perhaps several ticks on the short side.

Both players have excellent return stats with Nishikori breaking 30.8% and Djokovic 33.9% on hard courts in the last 12 months and the net effect of this is that - on a slow hard court - projected holds are on the low side.

Djokovic's is several percent below the ATP mean, with Nishikori's opposable in all scenarios, according to the Rolling Projected Holds in today's Tier Two Daily Spreadsheet.

On the subject of Rolling Projected Holds, I added an article to the website today (link at the top of the left hand margin) which you may find of interest...

The Japanese player also has a combined score over the 75 threshold with Djokovic recovering a break deficit 51.8% of the time in the last year.  

On that basis, laying Nishikori when a break up as well should have long-term positive expectation.

In the second match, Rafael Nadal takes on his 'bunny', Tomas Berdych (above, pictured) with the Spanish world number one enjoying an 18-3 career head to head record, as well as a more recent 7-0 lead since 2012.

It could well be argued Nadal is a little on the generous side at 1.20 or so, and my model indicated this should be a fair few ticks shorter.

Despite impressive serving stats this year, it's Berdych with the low projected hold (both the court speed and Nadal's superb 31.6% surface break percentage are the causes of that) and his serve can be laid in select circumstances according to Rolling Projected Holds, and obviously this is price dependent as well, with him starting as a heavy underdog.

As with Nishikori in the first match, Berdych can be laid a break up, due to his opponent's superb break deficit recovery stats.

Nadal recovers a break loss 55.6% in the last 12 months which is exceptional, and this takes the combined score on Berdych when a break up over 75 - despite the Czech having impressive break lead stats himself (only losing a lead 20.7% in the same time period).

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



  27th MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS    

Alexandr Dolgopolov will need continue his strong record as a heavy underdog to beat Tomas Berdych...

It's women's semi-finals day in Miami and with Serena Williams just starting against Maria Sharapova in the opening WTA match, next up on court is the ATP quarter-final clash between Alexandr Dolgopolov and Tomas Berdych.

Dolgopolov has been in an incredible vein of form in 2014 and I feel that has led to somewhat of an over-reaction in the market with Berdych available at 1.40 - which is generous in my opinion.

It's also worth pointing out that Berdych has also vastly improved his stats this year and his current 92.1% service holds is the best on tour - and a big increase on his 86.3% in 2013.

Dolgopolov has a low projected hold for this and the Rolling Projected Holds in today's ATP Tier Two Daily Spreadsheet show that the Ukrainian's serve can be opposed in most circumstances when the match is on serve, and the price is viable.

Furthermore, with Dolgopolov losing a break lead 33.3% in the last year, and Berdych recovering a break deficit 47.6%, this takes the combined score on Dolgopolov when a break up to 80.9 - over the ATP required 75 to perform the trade with positive expectation.

The only positive I can see for Dolgopolov is his superb record as a heavy underdog, and I feel he is going to have to play superbly to take this.

This is also the case for Milos Raonic in the final men's quarter-final as he has the unenviable task of taking on Rafael Nadal

The Spanish world number one starts at around 1.15 and has made light work of Raonic in previous encounters, having a 4-0 head to head lead and not dropping a set in those.

In fact, Raonic has averaged just 3 games per set in those clashes, and on a slow hard court, he should have big issues in rallies with Nadal.

With Raonic's limited return game holding him back against top players, Nadal has a high projected hold and a high break point 'clutch' score.

The effect of this is that is statistically viable for Nadal to be backed when losing on serve at points recommended in the TennisRatings Trading Handbook.

Despite having an incredible record of recovering break deficits - 55.6% in the last 12 months - Nadal cannot be backed when a break down in this because Raonic is extremely solid (as expected of a 'big server') when a break up, losing that lead just 16.7%, which is one of the best on the ATP Tour.

The final match of the night is for the night owls, as Dominika Cibulkova faces Na Li at around 1am UK time.

Similar to Berdych, Li looks generously priced against a lower ranked opponent at around 1.45, and also similar to the Czech, her price has unsurprisingly gone in a few ticks since this morning.

Li holds a dominant 6-0 head to head lead and Cibulkova has a low projected hold for this - and should she struggle to initially hold serve I feel this will lead to more breaks on her serve.

Interestingly, despite the value and projected holds advantage being on the Chinese world number two, she actually loses a break lead more (46.8% to 44.9%) and recovers a deficit less (59.2% to 62.8%) so those stats recommend laying Li a break up in this - however that's not something I'd advocate given the aforementioned value on Li, and the fact that the combined score on Li when a break up is only marginally above the 105 threshold for this trade in the WTA.

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




  26th MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS

Andy Murray's fitness will be tested tonight by Novak Djokovic...

Just four matches are on the card tonight at Miami as the men's quarter finals commence, as do the women's semi finals.

Match of the day is undoubtedly Andy Murray (above, pictured) against Novak Djokovic with both players having had recent success in head to head meetings.

It's also worth noting that in these head to head matches since 2012 there have been 77 breaks in 298 service games (74.16% holds) which is a little below ATP average.  

Furthermore, several of these matches featured quite a few unconverted break points.  

Projected holds are on the low side for this so more breaks of serve than average could well be on the agenda, and I feel laying either player's serve when the match is on serve and the price is viable should be a move with high positive expectation.

With regards to break deficit recovery, there isn't a single player that is worth laying a break up today although Murray's 73.5 combined score falls just short of the 75 required in the ATP.

In the second ATP quarter-final, Roger Federer takes on Kei Nishikori and the Swiss will be looking for revenge for a defeat on clay last season.

On that subject, it will be interesting to see if Federer's recent renaissance will extend to his least favourite surface in the coming months...

For the match today, it's unsurprisingly the talented Japanese (who for me would be a top 10 player if he could keep a constant decent level of fitness) with a low projected hold although I do feel Federer is a little short at 1.17 - no doubt due to his incredible service stats this week.

However I feel Nishikori may well have more self belief than Federer's 'bunny', Richard Gasquet, did last night and I wouldn't put it past him to make Federer trade higher in this.

In women's action, there's an intriguing match first up as Dominika Cibulkova faces Agnieszka Radwanska.

Over 12 months, it's Radwanska with the better stats but interestingly Cibulkova has the better win percentage and also hold/break stats in 2014.

Radwanska's fitness is also an issue and she starts at 2.15, which is generous based on 12 month stats but not based on 2014 stats.  

Projected holds are a little below WTA average and as I use 12 month stats for these, Cibulkova has the lower of the two.  She also is very close to the 105 threshold for laying a player a break up in the WTA - she's lost a lead 44.9% in the last 12 months and Radwanska has recovered a deficit 60.0% - making the combined score on Cibulkova when a break up 104.9.

I think this is a match where Rolling Projected Holds come into their own - if there are early breaks I can see this being a bit of a break-fest.  Assessing the game state in-play is crucial here.

Finally Caroline Wozniacki takes on Na Li in the second semi-final with the Chinese priced well by the market at 1.44 - with my model pricing her 1.45.

Li's projected hold is high with Wozniacki's a little below the mean - with a high break point 'clutch' score the Chinese player can be backed when losing on serve at points statistically recommended in the TennisRatings Trading Handbook.

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

  25th MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS

Kei Nishikori's match with David Ferrer could be good to trade today...

It's last 16 action in the men's tournament today, whilst the first two quarter finals in the women's event take place.

On a day where there is little value on a pre-match basis, I feel that Kei Nishikori's (above, pictured) match with David Ferrer could be the best match to trade.

Both players have better return stats than serve stats and Ferrer starts at 1.53 favourite, which looks pretty accurate.

However projected holds are both low for this and I like the idea of opposing either server whilst the match is on serve and price makes that viable.

Furthermore, both players are excellent at recovering break deficits - with Nishikori doing so 42.1% and Ferrer a superb 53.3%.  

When break lead loss stats are also included (Nishikori 26.0%, Ferrer 36.4%) both players have combined scores over the 75 mark, making laying either player a break up look to have positive expectation.

There really isn't much that appeals for the rest of the day with only the heavy underdogs having low projected holds and high combined scores a break up, but it's worth mentioning that Fabio Fognini has both the lowest projected hold and highest combined score a break up out of all the matches today for his clash with Rafael Nadal.

The Spaniard has looked very impressive so far in the tournament and should the opportunity arise to oppose Fognini at some point in the match (it probably won't) then this looks an excellent move.

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

  24th MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS

Fabio Fognini can be opposed today against Roberto Bautista-Agut...

Another 16 matches are scheduled today in Miami, as the men play complete their third round schedule, whilst the women's event has fourth round matches.

It was an excellent day's trading in the WTA yesterday with the four recommended players to lay when a break up according to the Tier Two Daily Spreadsheet all struggling to keep hold of leads.

Cornet, Cibulkova and Vesnina combined to lose 8 break leads out of 9 with Sloane Stephens not having the luxury of a break lead to defend as she was demolished by Caroline Wozniacki.

This brings the WTA total to 41 successful break-back trades out of 58 for Miami so far (70.69%) and considering the WTA top 100 average is 49.56%, this shows the success that these stats bring.

On that basis, on a day where there are many short priced favourites on the women's card, it can be expected that Carla Suarez Navarro can struggle to maintain a break deficit against world number two, Na Li.  

The Chinese player is a little on the generous side at 1.27 with the Spaniard having a very low projected hold and break point 'clutch' score.

Furthermore, with Li recovering a break deficit 59.2% and Suarez Navarro losing a lead 52.0% this takes the combined score over the 105 as detailed in the WTA break-back percentages article.

Li's projected hold is above average and also, crucially, her clutch score is high.  Therefore backing her when losing on serve at points detailed in the TennisRatings Trading Handbook can be considered.

In men's action, Fabio Fognini (above, pictured) can be opposed against Roberto Bautista-Agut, according to the stats.

The Spaniard - much improved over the last few months - has held 11.4% more and broken 0.8% more on hard courts in the past 12 months.

This gives him a clear edge and is some value at 1.77 pre-match.

With both players being stronger on return than serve, projected holds are low and I feel Fognini may well struggle to hold consistently here.

Laying his serve can be considered whilst the match is on serve, and the volatile Italian can also be opposed when a break up.  

He's lost a break lead 43.8% in the last 12 months and with Bautista-Agut above average (38.8%) for break deficit recovery, this is above the key 75 combined score.

Finally I feel Nicolas Almagro can be traded in some way against John Isner.

The big American had injury issues last week and didn't look superb against Donald Young previously, and I feel there is some value on Almagro at around 2.35 for this.

Projected holds are both high and actually equated to identical figures, but it's the Spaniard with the better break point 'clutch' score.

On that basis, backing him when losing on serve, similarly to Li, can be recommended.

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


  22nd MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS

Stats illustrate that Lleyton Hewitt never gives up in matches...

Miami continues today with 16 matches in the ATP event, concluding the second round, whilst the third round of the WTA event gets underway.

Followers of the match previews should have done well yesterday with Stepanek/Seppi and Cornet/Petkovic being the anticipated swingy affairs - and new at the top of the page you can see the break-back stats for both Indian Wells and Miami based on the combined scores (available via the TennisRatings Tier Two Daily Spreadsheets) over the required 75 (ATP) and 105 (WTA) as detailed in the ATP and WTA articles.

Over to today's action, one match where I feel that there might be some opportunity to trade is Rafael Nadal against Lleyton Hewitt

Both players are excellent returners, and if we know anything about Hewitt, it's that he won't be overawed against playing the world number one, and he certainly won't give up.

Nadal starts at 1.08 and based on my stats, that looks a little on the short side.

My latest Pinnacle Sports article shows Nadal's stats have declined somewhat in 2014 and I feel a lay-to-back is appropriate at low risk here.

Further backing up the assertion that Hewitt is a fighter is his incredible break deficit recovery percentage of 54.0% which is at an elite level - Nadal's is also stratospherically high at 55.6%.

This leads to combined scores of over 75 on both players with Hewitt's especially high (the highest in the ATP today).

I do feel that laying either player a break up is viable, although the price probably wouldn't make that possible on Hewitt in the first set.

Other matches which have good swing potential with low projected holds include Alexandr Dolgopolov against Jarkko Nieminen - the Finn possibly a touch of value here at 3.25 - and Lukas Lacko's match with Fabio Fognini.

The volatile Italian looks fairly priced for this at around 1.42 with Lacko's recent ATP record horrific.  

Laying Lacko a break up is statistically a move with high positive expectation.

Just one of the eight WTA matches has two players with low projected holds and that is Sara Errani - whose stats have also tailed off significantly in 2014 - against Ekaterina Makarova.

The Russian edges these projected holds which justifies her marginal favourtism for this match.

Both combined scores are around the 105 required mark in the WTA, with Errani's just below at 104.3 and Makarova's at 106.5.  

On this basis it's a move with some positive expectation to lay either player when a break up, although Makarova is the player above the threshold here.

I do feel there's a touch of value on Angelique Kerber at 1.50 against Tsvetana Pironkova (in their recent final in January she was priced 1.23) but the German's record as a favourite isn't convincing.

With a low projected hold and a high combined score when a break up - Pironkova loses a break lead 51.2% and Kerber recovers 60.2% - the stats do like opposing the Bulgarian's serve here and also when a break up.

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

  21st MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS

Radek Stepanek's match with Andreas Seppi should be good to trade...

Round two action continues apace in Miami and there are a number of matches which appeal from a trading basis today.

Radek Stepanek (above, pictured) tends to have a lot of swings in his matches and his service stats have deteriorated as he's aged.  

The Czech has held just 74.2% on hard courts in the last 12 months but broken 30.8%, which ensures he is still a threat, as Roger Federer almost found to his cost recently.

Today he faces Andreas Seppi with the Italian not in the best nick - his hard court stats of 75.9% holds and 19.9% breaks are unimpressive.

The net result of this is that on a slow hard court, projected holds are low, with Seppi's very low indeed - and the 1.50 pre-match price on Stepanek is justified.

Both players have had big issues holding onto break leads, with Seppi losing that advantage 46.7% and Stepanek 51.0% in the last 12 months - way above ATP mean.

Seppi in particular is decent at deficit recovery (39.8%) but the combined score of both players a break up exceeds the required 75 that my research found was necessary to execute this trade in the ATP.

With stats like these, this match should be excellent to trade and laying either player's serve when the match is on serve, and either player a break up should have long-term positive expectation.

Teymuraz Gabashvili faces David Ferrer in an intriguing clash with the Spaniard - defending runner-up points here - making a return from an adductor injury that forced him to retire in Acapulco last month.

This makes me feel that the Spaniard's price of 1.13 is short, and with both players having low projected holds, him going an early break down is not inconceivable whatsoever - or even losing a set.

Laying Ferrer at this price with a view to backing him at a bigger price further down the line appeals.

In WTA action, the match that stands out is Andrea Petkovic's match with Alize Cornet, with their clash in Paris a couple of months back being excellent to trade.

This is unsurprising considering both players have break-back percentages over 60%, which is huge for the WTA. 

Cornet recovers a deficit 67.3% and Petkovic 61.6% in the last 12 months and this ensures both player's combined scores are over the required 105 in the WTA, so laying either player a break up looks a decent plan.

Finally, Anna Schmiedlova has really struggled to hold onto break leads at WTA level and her combined score when a break up is one of the biggest I've seen - 133.8 - against Venus Williams today.

Laying the young Slovak a break up appeals.

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



  19th MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS

Albert Montanes has lost all eight of his hard court matches in the past two years...

It's day two of the Miami Masters/Premier Mandatory tournament and the men's event commences today after the women started yesterday.

With 16 men's matches and 20 women's matches on the schedule, there's plenty for traders to get involved with and there's also some very intriguing matches.

As I mentioned in yesterday's preview, the courts in Miami tend to play slow and last year this affected the ATP more than the WTA with service hold mean being just 72.9%, 5.4% below hard court average.

This slow surface should suit those who favour clay and one of those is Albert Montanes.

The Spanish veteran has atrocious hard court stats in the past 2 years, failing to win a single match at main tour level, and losing eight.  In those he's held 61.6% and broken 8.2% which illustrate why he's had difficulty!

Today he faces the limited Michal Przysiezny with the Pole starting at 1.57. This looks some value and with Montanes' projected hold unsurprisingly low (even against a player who doesn't have a good return game), laying Montanes' serve is viable in almost all circumstances, according to the Rolling Projected Holds in today's daily spreadsheet.

With the courts likely to play slowly, as mentioned, there are a number of men's matches today which feature low projected holds for both players.

David Goffin's matches usually make for excellent trading material and today he faces the Argentine clay courter, Horacio Zeballos.

Projected holds make this much closer than the 1.36 prematch price on qualifier Goffin's suggests, and I feel the Belgian is likely to trade higher here.  

I feel laying his serve should have high positive expectation.

Alejandro Falla looks some value at just over evens against Marinko Matosevic with the Australian journeyman not a fan of slow surfaces.

The Columbian edges two low projected holds and taking on Matosevic's serve works for me.

Several players worth laying a break up include Thiemo De Bakker against Victor Hanescu - the Dutchman has lost a break lead 50.0% of the time in the last 12 months - and Jeremy Chardy who faces Juan Monaco.

These courts should be much more to the Argentine's liking than the average hard court and with Chardy losing a break lead 33.3% and Monaco recovering that deficit 50.0%, this takes the combined score on Chardy when a break up to 83.3 - above the required 75 in the ATP.

In women's action, I like the chances of Victoria Duval against qualifier Kiki Bertens.

The American youngster has impressive stats from her qualifying matches on hard court in the past 12 months - winning 13/16 - and this should make her a player of decent potential.

Bertens has flattered to deceive for a while and is better on clay in any case, and I feel Bertens is a false favourite at 1.63.

Projected holds are both low and I feel opposing the Bertens serve is a great strategy here.

Other good matches with high swing trading potential include Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor versus Andrea Petkovic with projected holds both low.

The German recovers a break deficit an impressive 61.6% of the time and this is enough to take the combined score on Torro-Flor to be over the required 105 in the WTA - she loses a break lead 46.7%.

Also in this bracket is Yvonne Meusburger's match with Lourdes Domingues Lino.

The Spaniard's hard court record in the last year is atrocious, winning just one of nine encounters.  Her stats of 42.5% holds and 34.9% breaks show why she has issues winning matches...

Against a good returner, Lino's projected hold is very low indeed and her serve can be laid whenever the price realistically allows.

Furthermore, with her losing a break lead 61.3% and Meusburger's recovery percentage being decent at 54.6%, laying Lino a break up also appeals.

Finally, Kimiko Date-Krumm has one of the worst percentages in the WTA for holding onto break leads at 67.4% although stats show her to not be without a chance at 2.72 against the talented young Croatian, Donna Vekic.

I said a while back that if Vekic can improve her clutch play and take and save more break points, in line with her expectation, that she is a player of immense potential, and this still looks to be the case.

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


  18th MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS

Kurumi Nara should have some joy on the Annika Beck serve today...

There are 12 WTA matches today as the Miami Masters/Premier Mandatory tournament commences.

Starting a day earlier than the preceding Indian Wells event it means the tournament will last for 13 days, ensuring the first week will be jam-packed with action and the second week will be much slower.

With qualification still taking place some of the field is yet to be established and if you haven't checked out my latest article for Pinnacle Sports where I assess the effect of qualification on main draw matches, the findings are stark.

The courts in Florida are likely to play slowly and this should lead to more breaks and swings than average in the next fortnight, so trading conditions are likely to be excellent.

This could certainly be the case for the match between Annika Beck and Kurumi Nara with both players having low projected holds.

There can be no doubt that Beck's projected hold is low due to her atrocious serve that has held just 44.4% on hard courts in the last 12 months - almost 16% below WTA average.  

The German youngster makes up for this with a will to win that is rarely seen in the women's format and I firmly believe that she's the biggest statistical anomaly in the top 50 right now.  

It will be interesting to see how she recovers from the double bagel handed out to her by Agnieszka Radwanska at Indian Wells last week, but she starts favourite at around 1.78, which I think is short.  

Stats actually make Nara favourite for this, as the Japanese holds 16.8% more but breaks 1.1% less.  Beck's guts are illustrated in her superior break point stats and also the fact that she's very solid when marginal favourite.  

In addition to both players having low projected holds, stats indicate both should be opposed when a break up as well.

Beck has lost a break lead a huge 62.0% in the last 12 months and with Nara recovering a break deficit 62.5%, the combined score on Beck when a break up is 124.5 - well above the required 105 for this trade in the WTA.

Nara, too, struggles when a break up, losing a lead 56.4% and with Beck recovering a deficit 54.4%, the combined score on her is 110.8, again above 105.

With no value on Beck and her projected hold being super low, as well as a massive combined score a break up, it doesn't take Einstein to work out opposing her serve and her when a break up is a viable strategy here!

I'm more reticent to perform this on Nara with stats closer to the mean and the value on her, but it's probably got some small positive expectation.

There's not a huge amount else that stands out from a trading perspective with many projected holds around the WTA mean today.

I feel Francesca Schiavone is some value at around 2.50 against the erratic and often over-rated Yaroslava Shvedova, despite her poor recent form - I certainly would be surprised if the Italian veteran failed to take a set here.

There's probably a touch of value on Magdalena Rybarikova against Monica Puig even though the Slovak's 3-7 record this season inspires little confidence.

Puig, who I am looking forward to seeing on clay courts this season, has an awful 5-14 record on hard courts in the last 12 months and this needs to improve significantly for her to make decent headway in the rankings.  A solitary win over Anna Tatishvili is all she has to show for her efforts this season.

Iveta Melzer hasn't shown much since her return to tour and 55.6% holds and 11.1% breaks in her two matches show she's got a lot of improving to do.

To be fair, even looking at the last 2 years, her record of 3-15 and 58.4% holds and 21.6% breaks show she's not got a lot of hope of getting many WTA main draw wins.

Today she faces Alisa Kleybanova, whose stats have improved steadily since her return to tour and is justifiably favourite at around 1.20.

I'd be very surprised if Melzer could hold consistently here.

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





 16th MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS

It should be viable to oppose Flavia Pennetta's serve today...

Indian Wells finishes today with two finals, the first of which starts in around an hour.

That's the WTA final between Agnieszka Radwanska and Flavia Pennetta with the Italian in fairly uncharted recent territory and starting as an underdog at just over 3.00.

There's possibly a small amount of value on Radwanska as the favourite here but it's nothing huge.  Her projected hold is marginally above WTA average, whilst Pennetta's is low, meaning that opposing the Italian's serve should be viable much of the time, using the Rolling Projected Hold triggers when prices allow.

Furthermore, with Radwanska recovering a break deficit 60.0% in the last 12 months and Pennetta losing a lead 46.2% in the same time period, this takes the combined score on Pennetta when a break up to be marginally over the required 105 in the WTA.

This was also the case for her semi-final upset victory over Na Li with Pennetta losing a break lead in four consecutive service games in the first set, and only holding onto the lead when serving out the second set, and the match.

Therefore, laying Pennetta when a break up should be a viable strategy.

The men's final should be an intriguing affair with Novak Djokovic 1.62 favourite over Roger Federer and the few ticks of value on the Swiss that my model indicated this morning, when around 2.70, have now been eroded.

As I've previously mentioned in big matches between top ATP players they tend not to be affairs dominated by either player and often have more breaks of serve than average, and I feel this trend might continue here.

Federer has a slightly low projected hold for this (mainly due to Djokovic breaking 35.3% on hard courts in the last 12 months) whilst Djokovic's is around the ATP mean.

On that basis, the Rolling Projected Holds in today's Tier Two Daily Spreadsheet illustrate that Federer's serve can be laid in very select circumstances.

Despite my feeling that this might not be a match dominated by either player, I feel this is most likely to come by opposing the player a set up as opposed to a break up.

Both players are very solid indeed when a break up, despite Djokovic's travails against Isner in the second set yesterday.

With Federer losing a break lead a mere 14.0% in the last 12 months, and Djokovic barely worse at 17.0%, laying either player a break up would definitely not be recommended.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more when Miami starts on Wednesday!

  15th MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS

John Isner has caused Novak Djokovic difficulty in the past...

It's just the two ATP semi-finals tonight and in the opener, Roger Federer takes on Alexandr Dolgopolov.

The Ukrainian is in a rich vein of form and has seemingly managed to put aside some of the inconsistency which has plagued his career.  

Reasons for that are unknown but perhaps he is now a lot better after previously struggling with a fatigue illness for a long period of time, and perhaps even the unrest in his home country is inspiring him to make a name for himself.

He's going to have to play well to defeat Federer tonight, who himself has gone through something of a renaissance lately. 

The Swiss legend starts as favourite at around 1.33 and that's a touch of value based on my model, which made him a little shorter - no doubt Dolgopolov's stark improvement has been factored into his price.

The Ukrainian has a low projected hold whilst Federer's is above average, so laying Dolgopolov's serve selectively from the triggers in the Tier Two Spreadsheet's Rolling Projected Holds should have a positive expectation.

Dolgopolov has a solid record when a heavy underdog and has a history of taking sets from more illustrious opponents so could well be capable of taking something from this.  

I feel Federer will take this but 2-1 in sets at 4.20 is something I'd rather side with than 2-0 at 1.91.

The second match is the more intriguing one for me because John Isner is a heavy underdog at just over 6.00 for his clash with Novak Djokovic and this surprises me a little - for me this should be a little shorter.

Currently there are many kneejerk reactions in the media and on social media about top players and Djokovic has been criticised (dropping a set to Gonzalez was somewhat of an embarrassment) but now lauded again after a facile win over Julien Benneteau yesterday.

I didn't stay up for Isner's match with Gulbis last night but I see criticism of him with people saying they weren't sure how he won.  Let me make this clear - that's what Isner does.  It's his modus operandi - he wins tight sets and tight matches, which is not necessarily Gulbis' strength.

This will stand him in good stead for a potential one break set or tiebreak set that is likely tonight and it's heartening to see he's taken 7/17 sets from the Serb in his career, and indeed taken two wins from their six career meetings.

Isner is capable of a set at least here and I feel Djokovic 2-0 at around 1.60 represents no value whatsoever.

Regarding trading avenues, it's tough to recommend much with break-backs unsurprisingly unlikely.  I feel a lay-to-back of Djokovic is probably the best strategy, and should the first set go to a tiebreak, this could also be very viable.

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


  14th MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS
  & MINI TOURNAMENT REVIEW SO FAR

French veteran Julien Benneteau has a shocking record in deciding sets...

Another interesting day is in prospect at Indian Wells with the men completing their quarter-finals, and the women's semi-finals taking place.

From a pre-match standpoint, it's not going to be a tournament I will miss with a number of matches defying statistics, logic and trends (very much like the Australian Open). 

With both Indian Wells and the Australian Open being the two biggest events on tour this season and both throwing up some bizarre matches and results, it's easy to draw conclusions and say things are changing, and perhaps they are to some extent, but I don't feel a kneejerk reaction is appropriate.  

I think more reasoned general analysis can be done after Miami, the clay Masters and French Open - if things are the same then new, detailed analysis is definitely necessary.

However with the vast amount of shocks and top seeds exiting the tournament early, there has been much made of whether there is a 'changing of the guard' at the top of the game, and this will be the focus of next week's article for Pinnacle Sports.

Despite the pre-match issues, the tournament has been solid for trading.  

Those following the break-back percentages in the Tier Two Daily Spreadsheets will have done well, with recommended players to lay a break up losing their break lead 35/66 (53.03%) of the time in the WTA and 21/47 (44.68%) in the ATP.

With the WTA break-back mean being 49.57% and the ATP 33.43%, both tours showed above average success - particularly the ATP, showing that you don't necessarily need to be on the match winner to make a profit in-play trading.

If you would like to see the break-back data spreadsheet for Indian Wells, please email me at: tennistrades@gmail.com.

ATP action today focuses on the two remaining quarter finals, with Julien Benneteau taking on Novak Djokovic in the opener.

My stats back up the market price of 1.08 on Djokovic with my model price being exactly the same, and it's very interesting to see that Benneteau 2-0 (24.00) is bigger than him winning 2-1 (21.00) - do the bookmakers not pay any attention to deciding set records at all?  

I would be absolutely stunned if Benneteau takes this 2-1 but the way this tournament has gone, it's probably going to happen!

Despite an impressive week, my stats still make Benneteau a mediocre hard courter with his 73.8% holds and 24.5% breaks meaning his combined/hold break percentage on hard courts isn't even 100% - and still indicate he is much better indoors.

Unsurprisingly, the French veteran has a low projected hold for this match with the Serb world number two, and also fairly unsurprisingly, stats indicate he should be laid a break up - he's lost a break lead 38.2% in the last 12 months with Djokovic recovering a break deficit 51.8%.   This means the combined score on Benneteau when a break up is 90.0 - much bigger than the required 75 in the ATP to perform this type of trade.

Benneteau also isn't the type to thrive under pressure, so if he somehow does get into a winning position, the likelihood of him crumbling is pretty high.

The second match is an intriguing clash between the big-serving American, John Isner, and the volatile but talented Latvian, Ernests Gulbis.

Gulbis starts at 1.70 and there's not many times that Isner is an underdog in the US against a similarly ranked player, but I think the price is justified.

As many of you are probably aware, Isner's record in the US is very strong indeed, and backing him to win every match in his home country in the last 12 months would have generated a return of investment close to 30%.

However, it's Gulbis with the higher projected hold here and also much better break point stats, so my model indicated this price was pretty much spot on (it had Gulbis at 1.68).

Unsurprisingly for a match involving Isner, projected holds are very high and as I mentioned previously, Gulbis edges it in this respect.  With a high break point 'clutch' score, backing Gulbis when losing on serve at points indicated in the TennisRatings Trading Handbook should work well.

I'm doing a lot of work on building an over/under model right now and the main line of 25.5 is obviously pretty high.

It's interesting to see that when Isner was a 2.00 to 2.99 underdog since January 2013 he's only covered this line 5/11 times, whilst Gulbis just 8/19 times when 1.50 to 1.99 in the same time period (3 set main draw matches only).

8/19 of Gulbis' matches (42.1%) have gone 3 sets, whilst just four of Isner's 11 (36.4%) have gone the distance.  

On that basis the 2.35 for over 2.5 sets looks mediocre value, which doesn't surprise me, seeing how much casual money will see an Isner match and autobet 3 sets/overs...

My model indicated some value on Na Li against Flavia Pennetta at just shy of 1.40 in the first women's clash of the evening but it wasn't huge by any means - and with Pennetta's strong underdog record, I was discouraged from this line.

Certainly the Chinese world number two has much better hard court stats, holding 76.1% to 65.8% in the last 12 months, and breaking 46.6% to 41.5%, and has better break point stats as well.

The effect of this is a low projected hold for Pennetta, and when price allows, her serve can be laid in pretty much most circumstances, according to the Rolling Projected Hold triggers in today's Tier Two Daily Spreadsheet.

Furthermore, the Italian can be laid when a break up.  I mentioned yesterday Li's stats aren't stellar for recovering a break deficit, doing so 59.2% in the last 12 months.  This is still above average but below similarly ranked players.

However with Pennetta losing a break lead 46.2%, this takes the combined score on Pennetta to be just over the required score of 105 for this trade.

In the second match, both Simona Halep and Agnieszka Radwanska are very strong when a break down, recovering deficits 64.6% and 60.0% respectively.  However both players are solid when a break up, both losing that lead under 40% of the time, so neither player can be laid a break up in their match.

Despite this, it wouldn't surprise me at all if there were breaks in this - I just don't have enough confidence it not be all one way.

Both projected holds are low almost identical, as are the break point clutch scores. 

This would reflect value on Radwanska at odds of around 2.40 but with Halep's record when slight favourite being magnificent, it's very tough to go against the rapidly improving Romanian, who may make her debut in the top 5 next week.

In fact, it's very tough to ever go against Halep in the form she's been in the last year full stop on a pre-match basis, so I think the best plan for this is to lay either player's serve when the match is on serve and leave it at that.  

Rolling Projected Holds indicate this to have positive expectation in most situations today.

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



  13th MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS

Milos Raonic should have the edge of a tight match against Alexandr Dolgopolov tonight...

There are only four matches tonight at Indian Wells as the women complete their quarter finals, and the men start theirs.  Sadly it's a day where decent swing trading opportunities are fairly limited with the server likely to be strong in many cases.

In the opening men's quarter-final, I must admit surprise that Milos Raonic was as generously priced as 1.85 this morning against Alexandr Dolgopolov although the market is mainly on the side of the Canadian, and the prices have moved.

No doubt Dolgopolov is in a rich vein of form but has everyone forgotten his past?  This is a guy whose middle name should have been inconsistency, and it's difficult to see his season continuing like this for long, although his recent stats have been impressive.

Raonic has done it better for a long while now and has the better hold/break stats, against generally better players.  

Trading-wise it's difficult to recommend avenues with Raonic's high projected hold not being backed up by huge break point stats, and with the him being very strong defending a break lead (17.5% loss) and poor for recovering one (16.7% re-break) it's impossible to lay the player a break up.

Probably one to watch, unless you want to take a little risk backing Raonic when losing on serve.

The second men's quarter-final should also be dominated by serve with Kevin Anderson facing Roger Federer, and understandably Federer's projected hold is very high for this - whilst Anderson's is a touch above the ATP hard court average.

With both players losing a break lead less than 16% - Anderson has done so 15.9% and Federer 14.0% - in the last 12 months again it's impossible to lay the player a break up in hope for a break-back.

With Federer actually probably a touch of value at 1.23 and with a high projected hold and break point clutch score, backing him when losing on serve at points recommended in the TennisRatings Trading Handbook works for me.

In the opening women's match I feel Na Li is value at around 1.48 against Dominika Cibulkova with the Chinese prevailing in the recent Australian Open final in straight sets.

She holds and breaks more on the surface and this gives her a fairly high projected hold - coupled with a high break point clutch score sees her being able to be backed in-play when losing on serve, as Federer.

Cibulkova's projected hold is low and her serve can be laid in select circumstances, according to the Rolling Projected Holds in today's Tier Two Daily Spreadsheets.

Li's break back stats aren't too stellar for a player of her standing (59.2%) and with Cibulkova losing a break lead 44.9% this falls just below the required 105 for laying a player a break up in the WTA.

Ironically Li's combined score is over 105 but with the value and all other stats being on her side, I'd be reluctant to perform this trade on her.

Finally Flavia Pennetta takes on Sloane Stephens and I was surprised the market got this right by making the Italian the 1.75 favourite - usually there's a lot of love for Sloane.

Holding 1.0% less but breaking 6.6% more, this price is justified on Pennetta, who edges two projected holds around the WTA mean.

Stephens' combined score is exactly 105, so laying her a break up should have a small edge - but I wouldn't go overboard on the stakes with that one.

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


  
  12th MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS

Alexandr Dolgopolov's match with Fabio Fognini could be excellent trading material...

There are just the ten matches scheduled today at Indian Wells with two of the WTA quarter finals and all eight ATP last 16 clashes taking place tonight.

In the WTA matches, Agniezska Radwanska meets Jelena Jankovic with the Pole having taken the last four matches between the two.  

There also looks to be a touch of value on her at 1.70, although it's worth noting she only won 3 of 9 when priced 1.50 to 1.99 in the last 12 months, so she clearly has had difficulties against players she should have a slight edge on.  

Jankovic has complained of back issues in this event and may have issues holding serve here - she has the lower of two projected holds slightly below WTA average.  Using the Rolling Projected Holds in the Tier Two Daily Spreadsheets to lay her serve selectively looks a good plan here.

Laying the Serb when a break up also looks a strong play, with her losing a break lead 47.5% of the time, and Radwanska being strong at recovering deficits, doing so 60.0% in the last 12 months.  This takes the combined score on Jankovic when a break up to 107.5, above the required WTA mark of 105.

In the other match, Simona Halep takes on Casey Dellacqua - who must be getting a nose bleed getting to the quarter finals of a Premier Mandatory Event.  

The Australian received a walkover in the last round thanks to Lauren Davis succumbing with food poisoning with Halep needing three sets to overcome Eugenie Bouchard in a topsy-turvy match.

I feel Halep should be too good here but odds of 1.18 reflect that, and are fair.  

Dellacqua's projected hold is unsurprisingly low (Halep's return stats ensure that) and whilst I don't have stats on her in-play (I will with the April update of the Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet) it's likely the combined score on her when a break up will be over 105 with Halep recovering a break deficit a huge 63.6% of the time.

In men's action, probably the standout match from a trading perspective is Alexandr Dolgopolov's match with Fabio Fognini, with both men capable of genius, tantrums and looking like they've never picked up a racket before.

Both men are stronger on return than serve and this is illustrated in two very low projected holds, of which Dolgopolov has the edge.  These mean his current price of around 1.62 is justified.

On that basis, laying either player's serve when the match is on serve looks a good call, although it's worth noting Fognini's break point 'clutch' score is much the higher.  Therefore if Dolgopolov gets to a score like 0-40 or 15-40 on the Fognini serve, a safer play of clearing liability on Fognini is recommended.

Fognini has a very poor record of defending break leads, losing them 43.8% in the last 12 months.  With Dolgopolov recovering a break deficit 39.7%, this takes the combined score on Fognini when a break up to be 83.5 - a fair bit higher than the 75 required in the ATP.  So laying Fognini when a break up is also statistically viable.

Finally there is an intriguing match between Feliciano Lopez and Julien Benneteau with the Frenchman favourite at 1.75.

If it wasn't for the 5-2 head to head deficit and his awful record as a slight underdog, Lopez would have to be taken prematch at around 2.30, but these issues cast doubt on that viability.

For trading purposes, Benneteau's projected hold is a little low and with a low break point clutch score also, can be laid in specific circumstances, according to Rolling Projected Holds.

With a combined score of 74.7 when a break up, the French veteran is just short of being worth a lay when a break up, and as always with him, it's worth pointing out his atrocious deciding set record.  

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



  11th MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS

Mikhail Kukushkin's serve could be exposed tonight...

An incredible night of tennis action with the strangest set of matches and results I can remember for a while.

I am struggling to come up with a rational reason for this with it either being a huge decline from top players, the advent of a new breed (particularly relevant in the WTA) or just a statistical anomaly.  Interestingly the first Slam of the season, the Australian Open, also went against trends, as did Wimbledon last year, so this does need to be evaluated further.  

I plan to get an article up later on this week about this.

However the following table illustrates the positive swing trading opportunities that did exist last night on the players that were identified to have a high combined score when a break up by the TennisRatings Daily Spreadsheets. 

These angles do not necessarily solely have to be used on the match win exchange markets, and can also be applied to back their opponent 'to win set x' at inflated prices, from which that position can be traded or let run.

Times Lead Gave Break %
By Break Lead Up
Vesely 4        4 100.00
Fognini 2        1 50.00
Tursunov 1        1 100.00
Seppi         0        0 N/A
Dolgopolov 2        1 50.00
ATP Overall 9        7 77.78
Giorgi         4        2 50.00
Makarova 2        2 100.00
Stephens 2        2 100.00
WTA Overall8        6   75.00
Overall 17       13 76.47

Back to tonight's action, Mikhail Kukushkin could struggle to hold serve against Feliciano Lopez - not due to the Spaniard's returning ability but more so due to the Kazakh's own deficiencies on serve.  

He's held just 64.3% at ATP level on hard courts in the last 18 months and this just isn't close to being good enough.  With a reasonable return game this means his matches will be swingy with breaks and this is backed up by his stats from when he is a break up or down.

Kukushkin has lost a break lead 47.6% of the time and recovered a deficit 58.3% - and both those stats are hugely above ATP average.  Lopez is more circumspect, losing a break lead 24.2% and recovering it 36.5%, but the combined scores on both players are above the required 75 to make this type of trade viable.

With a low projected hold and value indicated on Lopez at 1.65, laying Kukushkin's serve in many circumstances and definitely when he is a break up appeals.

Another player I feel could struggle to hold onto a break lead is Jarrko Nieminen against Roberto Bautista-Agut with the Finn starting as underdog at around 3.00.

That price is perhaps a touch on the high side but nothing untoward and shows how much respect the markets have for the improvement of RBA, who is now justifying the potential shown when a Challenger player, and one of my favourite players to back at that time.

Nieminen has lost a break lead 39.2% in the last 12 months and with Bautista-Agut recovering a deficit 38.8%, this combined score of 78 is also a shade over the required 75.

Nieminen's projected hold is similar to Kukushkin's and I feel his serve can be laid in a variety of situations, according to the triggers in the Rolling Projected Holds in the Tier Two Spreadsheets.

In WTA action there are just four matches and the match where there may be most breaks is Simona Halep against Eugenie Bouchard.

With a low projected hold and Halep's break deficit recovery being huge at 64.6%, opposing the Canadian prospect a break up appeals.

The match between Alize Cornet and Agnieszka Radwanska could also be swingy with Radwanska looking short at 1.24.

However Cornet is a bit like Forrest Gump's proverbial box of chocolates - you never know what you might get, so if Rolling Projected Holds were ever needed, it's in a match like this.

For someone that is so emotional, it's a real surprise to see Cornet have such a fantastic break deficit recovery percentage - 67.29%.  With Radwanska's also good - 60% - this brings the combined score on both players to be over 105, indicating either can be laid a break up in this.

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

  10th MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS

Apologies for no updates over the weekend - I had a nightmare time...

Firstly I have had extreme nausea and headaches since Thursday and am only feeling a little better today after getting some medication, and then on Saturday night I dropped a full glass of Lucozade over my laptop, which decided to instantly not work.  

I'm on a back-up laptop now and everything is up and running again!

Today sees a further 16 matches in Indian Wells with no ATP match having two players with low projected holds - not a huge surprise on a day of potentially uncompetitive matches, with 5 players priced around 1.20 or below.

I notice some people favour Fabio Fognini to cause an upset at odds of just over 3.00 against Gael Monfils but I feel the odds are justified, with Monfils having strong stats (86.0% holds and 24.4% breaks) on hard courts in the last 12 months.

Fognini does have a low projected hold and opposing his serve should be a viable angle here when the price allows - the triggers from the Rolling Projected Holds in the Tier Two Spreadsheet show that his serve can be laid in most circumstances.

Furthermore, the volatile Italian has issues holding onto break leads, losing a lead 43.8% in the last 12 months.  With Monfils recovering a break deficit 37.3% of the time (both percentages are above average), laying Fognini when a break up can be considered as the combined score on him when a break up is 81.1 - above the required 75 in the ATP.  

In WTA action, matches are a little more competitive and I feel that if Aleksandra Wozniak trades lower than her pre-match 3.60 against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova then her serve can be opposed.

Since her return to tour after a long-term shoulder injury her service stats have been very poor - holding just 51.0% of the time on hard courts - and against a strong player who is about average on return she should struggle to hold.

I don't have in-play data on Wozniak but I'd be surprised if she didn't give up leads an above average amount with that service hold.

The match between Alisa Kleybanova and Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor is pretty weak for a 3rd round match in a Premier Mandatory event and both players have weak service stats, so this could well be the match with the highest percentage of breaks in it today.

Both ladies are stronger on return and I feel Kleybanova, who has received a lot of market support for this and is now into around 1.35, is a bit too short here.

Torro-Flor isn't without a chance and even though I feel there's value on her, I think laying both serves is a viable proposition with projected holds as low as they are.

It's worth noting however that Torro-Flor either seems to win when she's a heavy underdog, or be on the end of a big defeat.

The markets have also put a lot of stead in the converse performances of Ana Ivanovic and Sloane Stephens in the previous round, with Stephens' much more dominant display (against a worse opponent, for me) getting a huge amount of love.

Ivanovic is currently around 1.63 and I think this is value - and also the stats show laying Stephens a break up is viable.

The American youngster, who is still highly inconsistent and prone to huge mental lapses, loses a break lead exactly 50.0% in the last 12 months and with Ivanovic recovering a deficit 60.0% of the time, this takes the combined score when Stephens is a break up to be 110.0% - above the required 105 in the WTA.

Finally Sam Stosur needs to turn around a 5-0 head to head deficit against Flavia Pennetta and the hard court stats suggest she can - in the last 12 months she's held 75.1% to 64.2% (10.9% more) but broken 34.7% to 41.3% (6.6% less).  It will be interesting to see if the Aussie's woes continue against Pennetta today.

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


            INDIAN WELLS ATP & WTA
             TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS

With several days to go before the WTA event starts on Wednesday (the ATP tournament begins on Thursday) I thought I'd write an advance preview of both tournaments prior to the draws being made.

The Indian Wells event is the first of two Masters/Premier Mandatory events in March with Miami following in a fortnight.

The fields in both events are comprised of 96 players, with the tournaments being played over an unusual 10/11 day format.  The effect of this is that there are an avalanche of early matches, and then few in the second week.

Last year there were 62.1% holds in the WTA event which is 1.1% below the WTA hard court average, whilst the ATP had 75.9% holds - 2.4% below the ATP hard court mean.

On that basis it can be said that the courts will play a little on the slow side and there will be slightly more service breaks than the average hard court event.  Therefore laying the server and laying the player a break up should have more application than the average tournament, and positive expectation opportunities will exist in this area in the next fortnight.

For those who are unaware, Masters and Premier Mandatory events offer large ranking points and financial incentives to players and it's pretty rare for a player not to give their all when those benefits are there, although those incentives do mean that injured players tend to turn up for their first round match with no real chance of winning, so that needs to be guarded against.

Due to the incentives mentioned above, favourites tend to thrive in Masters/Premier Mandatory events and looking at the 2013 historical data was interesting in this respect.

There was a clear discrepancy between the first round and subsequent rounds for favourite success, with the vast majority of underdog wins coming in the opening few days of the events.  

The WTA had worse results blindly backing favourites, with a 68.8% win percentage incurring a -4.29% ROI loss in 2013.  However the ATP actually managed a slight profit, with its 71.0% win percentage generating 1.51% ROI simply by backing the favoured player.

What is interesting to see is that since 2006, there have been no repeat winners of the event in the WTA - mainly due to the long-term absence of Serena Williams from the event.  With Victoria Azarenka (2012 winner) and Maria Sharapova (2013 winner) having doubts about whether they are going into the event in their best form, the WTA event is particularly open this year.

Despite there being various winners of the event, only Daniela Hantuchova (14th seed) and Kim Clijsters (unseeded but clearly a top player) were winners from outside the top six seeds in the last 10 years so it's that area that needs to be considered for potential winners.

Only Caroline Wozniacki (8) and Marion Bartoli (15) were outside the top five seeds when runner up in the last 10 years, giving further weight to looking at the top six seeds for outright positions.

In the men's event, Roger Federer has won four of the last 10 tournaments but only once since 2006.  He rolled back the years in Dubai last week with some superb tennis although statistics do not support his ability to reproduce this week in, week out.

Rafael Nadal has won three of the last seven here with Novak Djokovic taking two titles.  Only Ivan Ljubicic (20th seed) has won in the last 10 years when outside the top five seeds, and realistically the top three seeds have the best chances with in addition only Nadal (5th seed only due to injury) winning from outside the top three seeds.

This makes life potentially difficult for Andy Murray, who hasn't recaptured his best form since back surgery and has a historically bad record here, with a solitary runner-up position being his best finish.

There have been a real mixed bag of runners up with John Isner, Mardy Fish and James Blake making the final in recent years, so whilst the top players in the market are most likely to win, outright backers of a long shot may have opportunities to trade out in the later stages of the men's event.



10th MARCH 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS

Apologies for no updates over the weekend - I had a nightmare time...

Firstly I have had extreme nausea and headaches since Thursday and am only feeling a little better today after getting some medication, and then on Saturday night I dropped a full glass of Lucozade over my laptop, which decided to instantly not work.  

I'm on a back-up laptop now and everything is up and running again!

Today sees a further 16 matches in Indian Wells with no ATP match having two players with low projected holds - not a huge surprise on a day of potentially uncompetitive matches, with 5 players priced around 1.20 or below.

I notice some people favour Fabio Fognini to cause an upset at odds of just over 3.00 against Gael Monfils but I feel the odds are justified, with Monfils having strong stats (86.0% holds and 24.4% breaks) on hard courts in the last 12 months.

Fognini does have a low projected hold and opposing his serve should be a viable angle here when the price allows - the triggers from the Rolling Projected Holds in the Tier Two Spreadsheet show that his serve can be laid in most circumstances.

Furthermore, the volatile Italian has issues holding onto break leads, losing a lead 43.8% in the last 12 months.  With Monfils recovering a break deficit 37.3% of the time (both percentages are above average), laying Fognini when a break up can be considered as the combined score on him when a break up is 81.1 - above the required 75 in the ATP.  

In WTA action, matches are a little more competitive and I feel that if Aleksandra Wozniak trades lower than her pre-match 3.60 against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova then her serve can be opposed.

Since her return to tour after a long-term shoulder injury her service stats have been very poor - holding just 51.0% of the time on hard courts - and against a strong player who is about average on return she should struggle to hold.

I don't have in-play data on Wozniak but I'd be surprised if she didn't give up leads an above average amount with that service hold.

The match between Alisa Kleybanova and Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor is pretty weak for a 3rd round match in a Premier Mandatory event and both players have weak service stats, so this could well be the match with the highest percentage of breaks in it today.

Both ladies are stronger on return and I feel Kleybanova, who has received a lot of market support for this and is now into around 1.35, is a bit too short here.

Torro-Flor isn't without a chance and even though I feel there's value on her, I think laying both serves is a viable proposition with projected holds as low as they are.

It's worth noting however that Torro-Flor either seems to win when she's a heavy underdog, or be on the end of a big defeat.

The markets have also put a lot of stead in the converse performances of Ana Ivanovic and Sloane Stephens in the previous round, with Stephens' much more dominant display (against a worse opponent, for me) getting a huge amount of love.

Ivanovic is currently around 1.63 and I think this is value - and also the stats show laying Stephens a break up is viable.

The American youngster, who is still highly inconsistent and prone to huge mental lapses, loses a break lead exactly 50.0% in the last 12 months and with Ivanovic recovering a deficit 60.0% of the time, this takes the combined score when Stephens is a break up to be 110.0% - above the required 105 in the WTA.

Finally Sam Stosur needs to turn around a 5-0 head to head deficit against Flavia Pennetta and the hard court stats suggest she can - in the last 12 months she's held 75.1% to 64.2% (10.9% more) but broken 34.7% to 41.3% (6.6% less).  It will be interesting to see if the Aussie's woes continue against Pennetta today.

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

6th MARCH 2014 PREVIEWS

Michael Russell has given up a break lead 59.26% in the last 12 months...

Day two of Indian Wells sees ATP action commence and there are 16 first round ties for the men, as well as the women, who complete the first round tonight.

As yesterday, play starts at 7pm UK time but it's a match scheduled to be second on, and streamed live, which catches my attention - the all-US clash between Michael Russell and Donald Young.

I make Young strong favourite for this with much better recent ATP stats but the markets have him marginally ahead at 1.90 - however Young's record as slight favourite doesn't inspire huge confidence, and Russell leads the head to head results 7-4.

Russell's ATP record on hard court won't inspire confidence amongst his backers with a solitary win from nine outings in the last 12 months and he's only held 67.9% in those matches, breaking 14.0%.  Those stats won't get the job done against many...

My model indicates Russell has a low projected hold and I feel opposing him generally here is the way to go - certainly his serve can be laid in a variety of circumstances, and it's also worth mentioning that he's awful a break up - losing a break lead 59.26% of the time in the last 12 months (well above the top 100 average of 32.28%).  

Even with Young recovering a deficit just 25.00% in that time period, that's more than enough to warrant laying Russell a break up in this.

Another interesting match is between Alejandro Falla and Federico Delbonis with Falla's poor record as favourite the only factor stopping me getting involved with the Columbian at 1.73 pre-match.

That price is a huge over-reaction to Delbonis' win last week in Sao Paulo (on clay) and no doubt Falla is the more accomplished hard courter.

Delbonis, on hard/indoor in the last 12 months at ATP level has a 2-4 record, holding 73.8% and breaking a mere 6.5%, and those stats will need to improve greatly if he is to become a threat away from the dirt.  

Furthermore, after a tough week last week, it would be understandable if he took it easy here.

His projected hold for this is low and unless he's holding to love on a regular basis, his serve should be laid when the match is on serve only - his stats when a break up are solid.

In WTA action, it's the clashes between Urszula Radwanska and Alexsandra Wozniak, who have both struggled with injuries lately, and Alisa Kleybanova and Victoria Duval that have the potential for the most breaks. 

Duval's stats in qualifiers show that she has ability but a game more geared to return than serving, whilst Kleybanova's service stats since her return to tour do not impress - I feel value on Duval as an underdog here.

Radwanska has the better 12 month stats than Wozniak, and should be too good at 1.80 for their match, and overall in these matches both Kleybanova and Wozniak's serve can be laid with high positive expectation.

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



           5th MARCH 2014 PREVIEWS

Anna Schmiedlova has lost a break lead an incredible 76.9% in the last 12 months...

Indian Wells WTA event is due to start in around six hours so now seems as good a time as any to preview some of the 16 matches scheduled for tonight.

US tournaments are pretty convenient for non full-time traders with matches tonight commencing at 7pm UK time and going on until the early hours and I too like the times, with a more leisurely morning than European events meaning that all preparation can be done by around lunchtime.

As mentioned in the tournament preview below (which I will keep posted on the main page for the duration of the event), the courts should play a little on the slow side and this is reflected in the projected holds for today's matches.

Annika Beck has her traditional low projected hold, even against an opponent who doesn't have the best return stats on hard court in Stefanie Voegele, who has broken just 26.4% on the surface in the last 12 months.  

However Beck's service hold of 46.4% is by far the worst in the top 50 and is a huge 16.8% below WTA surface average.

Beck starts as favourite at around 1.55 for this battle of two players who have more fight and determination than most on the WTA Tour and this seems a little short to me, although I do still make her favourite as she edges two low projected holds and has much better break point stats, according to the TennisRatings Tier Two Spreadsheet for today's matches.

Laying either player's serve is recommended in certain circumstances using the Rolling Projected Hold triggers from the spreadsheets, and also laying either player a break up is statistically viable.

Beck has given up a break lead 64.0% in the last 12 months whilst Voegele has done so 54.7% - both above the 48.6% top 100 mean.

With both player's deficit recovery stats around average - Beck's is 54.4% whilst Voegele is 49.2% in the last year, the combined score for both players when a break up is over the required 105 as detailed in the WTA break-back percentages article.

Another player that statistics indicate should be laid when a break up is Anna Schmiedlova, who has lost a break lead an incredible 76.9% in the last 12 months.  
She starts as a slight underdog against Yanina Wickmayer who is around 1.70 for this, and that price seems reasonably justified based on my model.

Wickmayer doesn't have the best break deficit recovery stats but did significantly improve her percentage to 43.3% from February's 35.7% in the last month and clearly when Schmiedlova leads by a break the combined score is well over 105, and actually is a touch over the higher level of 120 from the article.

Despite these stats Schmiedlova has held 62.1% on the surface in the past 12 months and this is just 1.1% below WTA mean, so laying her serve in individual games isn't recommended (her projected hold is pretty much bang on average) but she seems to have real problems holding onto leads.

Finally I feel Kristina Mladenovic is worth opposing against Shuai Zhang whose stats are flattered a little from playing some WTA Challenger events but even so, has a big edge against the Frenchwoman, who I feel is more suited to indoors than outdoor hard surfaces.

Even taking this opponent quality factor into account my model priced Zhang much shorter than the current 1.50 available price and her projected hold is high, with Mladenovic's low.

Backing Zhang when losing on serve at points recommended by the TennisRatings Trading Handbook is a viable strategy and laying Mladenovic's serve generally is too - with the Rolling Projected Holds indicating these options can be taken pretty much all the time.

Mladenovic has been poor when a break up, losing her lead 62.2% in the last 12 months to go back on serve, whilst Zhang's 50.0% recovery percentage is solid but unspectacular.  Even allowing for that, the combined score of 112.2 is easily enough to warrant laying Mladenovic a break up.

Good luck in the markets and there will be more tomorrow - when the ATP also gets underway!

2nd MARCH SAO PAULO FINAL PREVIEW

Federico Delbonis is strong favourite to win his first ATP title...

Just the one match today and it's the final of Sao Paulo, and if you'd have requested odds on the two players participating to be Federico Delbonis and Paolo Lorenzi at the start of the week, you'd have got huge odds!

The Argentine starts as a strong favourite at around 1.42 to gain his first ATP title but the veteran Italian Lorenzi - who also would get a first title - will draw strength from a 3-0 head to head lead which were all from Challengers on clay.  

However considering Lorenzi was the higher ranked player in all of those (currently he is the lower ranked by 53 spots) it's questionable how relevant that is.

Delbonis' success on clay isn't a huge surprise considering to me considering he was identified in my 'Which young ATP players can make it?' articles in July last year, with stats illustrating that out of all players under 22 and ranked outside the top 50 he had the best win percentage at ATP level, which actually put him on a par with Tomas Berdych and Richard Gasquet at a similar age.

Back to today's match, I feel Delbonis is the justified favourite and my model made him almost the same as the current market price.

The Tier Two Daily Spreadsheets show that Delbonis' projected hold is high, whilst Lorenzi's is marginally below ATP clay average.  

With a high break point 'clutch' score, backing Delbonis when losing on serve at points specified in the TennisRatings Trading Handbook is recommended.

I'd be surprised if there were a huge amount of breaks in this and it's worth noting that the ATP Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet showed that laying the player a break up wasn't viable at all.

Both Lorenzi and Delbonis recovered a break deficit less than 30% in the last 12 months which is a little below average, and with percentages of 34.48% and 35.00% respectively for break lead loss (marginally above average) there's clearly no edge in the long term for this trade here.

Action returns on the 5th March when the WTA get started at Indian Wells, so good luck today and there will be more then!
Comments