Trading The Second Set


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April 12th, 2016:-

Trading at the end of the first set is something that I get asked about a lot, so I thought I'd write an article about it...

The article 'Laying the Underdog in Set Two', which I wrote about 18 months ago, looks at some situations in the WTA whereby an 'averaging down' strategy could be analysed.  

For those who haven't read the article and need some further clarification on this, averaging down in this scenario involves laying the first set winner and then laying again if the first set winner breaks first to lead by a set and break in set two.  The general idea is to maximise our chances to earn at least one winning trade from the two, and hence make profit.  Obviously if both trades lose (the first set winner trains to 1.01), we lose, and it won't really be pretty.

The lead loss/recovery data spreadsheet is useful in so many ways but one area that we can use it in this situation is working out the exact percentages on the ATP Tour that these scenarios occur.

Across the 128 ATP players in the sample, the first set winner broke first in set two 1795/2722 times from 1st July 2014 to 10th April 2016 (last update) - a percentage of 65.94%.  A set and break was recovered 539/1874 times (28.76%).  The first set winner 'trained' 46.98%.

However, it is worth noting that the percentages in the samples are likely to be a little negatively skewed because they will be weighted towards the better players who are usually priced at short prices pre-match.  The top five players to generate these leading situations were Djokovic, Ferrer, Berdych, Nadal and Murray - players who are certainly not nearly priced at even money average starting price.  These five players contributed 11.4% of leading scenarios in the lead loss/recovery spreadsheet.

Taking the 10 players with the lowest amount of leading scenarios (but filtering out those with small samples of less than 50 leading scenarios), these would be Dustin Brown, Gabashvili, Nicolas Almagro, Albert Ramos, Robin Haase, Ernests Gulbis, Victor Estrella, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Denis Istomin and Marcel Granollers.

Across these filtered 10 players, when they won the first set they broke first in set two 131/192 times from 1st July 2014 to 10th April 2016 (last update) - a percentage of 68.23%.  This is actually slightly higher than the entire sample average, but they are much worse than average from a set and break up - this was recovered 50/136 times (36.76%).  Using these numbers, when these 10 players won the first set, they 'trained' a lower 43.15% of the time.

Some players are much better than others when winning the first set.  The table below shows a screenshot of the lead loss/recovery  spreadsheets filtered for the top five front-runners in this scenario:-

Player

When     Won S1



First S&B, Gives Up



Break 1st S2






Yes

No

%

Yes

No

Kyrgios

17

4

80.95


16

Carreno-Busta

19

3

86.36

3

16

Gabashvili

13

3

81.25

2

11

Delbonis

18

6

75.00

1

14

Gasquet

28

7

80.00

5

23


We can see that Nick Kyrgios in particular is exceptional when he takes the first set and opposing him using this style of trading certainly would not be advised.

Nick Kyrgios is superb in set two when he wins set one...

However, it is less the case for the players below:-

Player

When     Won S1



First S&B, Gives Up




Break 1st S2







Yes

No

%

Yes

No

%

Coric

14

18

43.75

7

12

36.84

Verdasco

11

15

42.31

4

9

30.77

Stakhovsky

10

11

47.62

5

7

41.67

Granollers

10

9

52.63

7

7

50.00

Haase

10

10

50.00

5

6

45.45








Coric, Verdasco and Stakhovsky have all broken first in the second set less than 50% of the time after winning the first set.  Success using this style of trading would be around the 75% mark for these players, as opposed to the 53.02% (100% - 46.98%) of the entire sample  - making huge improvements to the profit figures.

The players below showed superb recovery skills having lost the opening set:-

Player

When Lost S1



First S&B, Recovers




Break 1st S2







Yes

No

%

Yes

No

%

Zverev A

15

11

57.69

8

5

61.54

Verdasco

18

14

56.25

6

8

42.86

Nadal

12

9

57.14

4

6

40.00

Murray

16

10

61.54

3

9

25.00

Nishikori

14

15

48.28

7

7

50.00


When losing the opening set, these players either broke first or recovered set and break around 80% of the time - again, much better than the 53.02% across the whole sample.  Alexander Zverev is rapidly becoming a trader's favourite, with very swingy matches, whilst it's worth noting that Fernando Verdasco bizarrely exhibited a poor level when he won the first set, yet a very strong level when he lost the first set...

It is clear that some players are much better at retaining momentum than others, and conversely turning around losing positions.  Treating a Kyrgios as equal to a Coric after a set one win would be a big mistake.  Establishing the players who are likely to give up leads or recover deficits is critical for this style of trading.



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