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23rd June, 2016.
Agnieszka Radwanska has been a mainstay of the WTA top 10 for a number of years, although never quite convincing that she is part of the elite.
Currently world ranked number three, she has a very poor 37-61 career record against top 10 players - certainly not a record that befits a player of her world ranking.
In addition to this, she has only competed in one Grand Slam final, in Wimbledon in 2012, where she lost to Serena Williams in three sets.
Statistically, she is strong. Before today's match against Dominika Cibulkova, she has held serve 72.6% in the last 12 months, and breaking opponents 45.4% in this time period (combined 118.0%) she clearly deserves to be in and around her ranking. 36 month stats of 71.0% and 44.9% (combined 115.9%) show she's consistently a strong competitor on the WTA Tour.
However, I noticed something very prevalent in my data on Radwanska.
In the last 36 months, Radwanska has won 317/470 (67.4%) of sets she has played, but of her last 50 final sets, she has won a mere 24 (48.0%), a dramatic decrease. Incredibly 22 of these 26 final set losses came as a favourite, and 17 as a favourite with a starting price below 1.50.
This is obviously a huge leak for Radwanska and it would be likely that this is fitness/mentality orientated.
Radwanska's final set data when leading in my lead loss/recovery data spreadsheets also do not make pretty reading:-
In this, we can see that from 1/7/14 to 19/6/16, Radwanska has lost the first break lead in the opening set 37.5% of the time (14.52% below - better - than the average WTA player), and has been broken back from the first set and break lead 32.81% (8.74% below - better - than the average WTA player).
However, in the final set she has lost the first break lead 11/16 times (68.75%). This is 14.49% worse than the average WTA player.
These traits are also similar when she is losing in final sets:-
Radwanska recovers the first break lead in the first set an impressive 71.05% of the time, and a similarly impressive 60.0% from a set and break down - both around 17% in excess of the WTA mean. However this drops to 35.29% in the final set - almost 20% below the WTA average. Again this shows how badly she performs in the final set.
How can we use this to our advantage?
One obvious way is in-play, to look at laying her when leading by a break in the final set, and to avoid entering when she is losing in the decider.
A second, perhaps slightly less obvious way, is to back her to win 2-0 in sets when we consider her value pre-match. Considering her chances in a final set are much lower than in the other two sets, taking the bigger price on her to win by this scoreline is utterly logical. Indeed, she has won three tournaments in the last 12 months without dropping a set - WTA Shenzhen, WTA Tianjin and the WTA Tokyo 2 (Premier) event.
In the last 12 months, backing Radwanska blind, just to win the match outright, would have returned 1.4% ROI based on level stakes at Pinnacle Sports' closing prices. However backing her to win -1.5 sets slightly increased this to 3.2% ROI. Whilst I didn't check out how she fared when backing her on the game handicap, it wouldn't be a surprise at all to see this also yield solid rewards, given her reputation of being something of a 'flat-track bully'.
Particularly in-play, having detailed data on Radwanska is a huge advantage for preparing scripts for matches involving her, and there are many players who exhibit traits which can be exploited on a regular basis.
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