As a tennis analyst and trader it’s my job to look at tennis statistics for hours a day and try and come up with edges in the market for the forthcoming matches.
The main problem which I encountered was that tennis statistics tend to be governed by what is available from organisations such as the ATP website or tournament website and these are often simply ‘tennis statistics’. I have put that in inverted commas because that’s what they are – statistics for the tennis fan and armchair viewer. Very rarely do you get a statistic on the internet or TV that makes you sit up and take notice. I’m talking about the critical in-play information that you need to make a quantitative judgement on how a match might develop in the future.
The best statistics which were available were things like “win percentage when a set up”, “win percentage when a set down” and “deciding set win percentage”. Don’t get me wrong, those are highly useful statistics and can be considered in any analysis.
However, those only cover situations at the end of a set, what about situations which happen during a set – where market swings can occur regularly? There are no statistics on these whatsoever and most traders, fans and pundits alike are forced just to make subjective assessments on matches such as ‘Granollers is a huge choker’, ‘Almagro never does it easy’, ‘Andy Murray comes back from a break down really often’, or ‘Murray starts matches really slowly’. Are these things true? The people uttering those comments can’t have the first clue. The thing is, notable events tend to happen less than people think but because they stick in the memory when they do, people think they happen more regularly. Twitter is full of people stating ‘1.0x just got beaten in play’ and of course those events do happen. But surely if laying 1.0x blind was guaranteed long term profit, everyone would do it and we’d all be living in the Bahamas drinking cocktails all day in front of our laptops! It clearly isn’t.
The inability to find such information on statistics during sets disappointed me. What I wanted to know was who started well or badly at the start of sets, who is clutch or who chokes at the end of sets, and also which players can recover from a break down or defend break leads.
I had only one option – to plough through all the point by point data to do the research myself. And that’s where I am now. I finished the ATP version last week and the information that I uncovered is extremely valuable and I’m certain will lead to extra profits in the markets.
Knowing that some players give up a break lead over 60% of the time (Martin Alund, Paul-Henri Mathieu and Guido Pella) will give me a huge edge in trading those players’ matches. Having the knowledge that Juan Monaco and Julien Benneteau get a break deficit back on serve over 50% of the time (putting them in the top 5 for that area – much better than their world ranking) will also serve me very well.
I also found some other incredible stats out – such as Ivo Karlovic only breaks 2.0% in the late stages of a set. Whilst the big Croatian is one of the worst returners on tour, to have such a ridiculously low statistic – it’s well below his average across all games of 7.1% and the ATP average break of 21.6%. I’m certain that backing the server against Karlovic late on will yield dividends with this low break percentage – even though the market expects his opponent to hold a lot more than against an average opponent, it won’t expect them to hold against him 98% of the time…
Michael Russell was another interesting player to analyse. In 2013 he has held 69.3% of the time but late in sets this drops to 58.93% - a huge decrease. It would appear that he’s a big choker in this scenario and his serve can be opposed almost blindly against any opponent on this basis late on in the set.
Finally, a few words on those subjective scenarios I mentioned earlier. All of those are true statements I’ve heard from others and also thought myself. Were they correct? Actually they all were to some extent.
Granollers holds 75.5% in 2013. However his hold late in sets is 74.01%.
Almagro gives up a break lead 31.82%. This is marginally below the ATP average of 32.54% but is one of the worst in the top 20 for this. Only the weak servers Fabio Fognini and Gilles Simon have a higher percentage for this, and their overall service hold is 11.8% and 13.4% lower respectively. It definitely would appear that Almagro has more problems than he should holding onto a break lead.
Andy Murray has come back from a break down a huge 58.54% this year. That puts him second on the ATP list behind Rafael Nadal (68.97%). Therefore backing him when a break down would appear very viable.
Finally, Murray has won 73.53% of sets in 3 set matches this year. However he’s only taken the first set 63.33% of the time so it does look like he starts slow. With his starting price often 1.0x and 1.1x it would appear he’s a huge candidate for a prematch lay to back in-play later on at a bigger price.
These examples are just a few that I’ve picked out from the data on the Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet which I released for sale on Saturday. To get your free sample you can sign up at http://www.tennisratings.co.uk/sign-up.