Tiebreak Trading in the ATP/WTA


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One area of trading which many Tennis traders seem unsure of, and some that I’ve spoken to even steer clear of completely, is tiebreak trading.


Tiebreaks are one of the most volatile parts of a Tennis match and due to this, it is possible for traders to have the ability to win and lose large sums in these.  


Primarily the main way for a trader to lose significant ticks in the market during tiebreaks is to either lay a player at the start of the tiebreak, or to back the player winning the tiebreak (and then they lose it).  


Either way, taking on this level of tick risk isn’t recommended, and isn’t my style whatsoever.  Much more preferable is to use the volatility of tiebreaks in an attempt to try and gain big ticks but with a very low risk attached to this.


One entry point which achieves this is to lay the player who is leading by a 3 point margin in the tiebreak.  If the 3 point leader ‘trains’ and wins the set easily, we have a manageable loss.  However, if there is a change of momentum in the tiebreak, and the player losing badly recovers at least one mini-break, then we can generate a very profitable situation.


The following table illustrates the movement from a 3 point deficit in a tiebreak in from the start of the season in January 2015 to the end of the Australian Open on the 1st February:-



3 Point Lead Loss, 2 Points Recovered



3 Point Lead Loss, 3 Points Recovered




Yes

No

%

Yes

No

%








ATP

45

58

43.7

23

80

22.3

WTA

18

20

47.4

10

28

26.3


As can be seen from the table, there are many more tiebreaks on the ATP Tour, and with men’s players much more solid on serve, this is very logical.  Indeed, on the ATP Tour in the last 12 months there have been 0.19 tiebreaks per set, compared to 0.11 in the WTA.


What may surprise readers is how close the ATP figures are to the WTA, with the women achieving a 2 point recovery just 3.7% more, and a full 3 point recovery 4.0% more.  Given that the point movement in the ATP is almost always bigger than in the WTA, it would appear that the ATP provides plenty of scope to get involved from this entry point.



4-2 Changeover Score Goes Level




Yes

No

%





ATP

25

46

35.2

WTA

10

16

38.5


In addition to this, at the 4-2 scoreline at the first change of ends in the tiebreak, the figures were also very close, with 35.2% of 4-2 leads being at least equalised in the ATP, compared to 38.5% in the WTA. 


In the future, I plan to look at data involving weak players leading tiebreaks, with several metrics such as low projected hold and poor lead retention enabling me to filter for scenarios.  With game selection it wouldn’t be a major surprise if at least two points were recovered 50%, and three points 40% of the time.



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