Mar 13, 2014
Mar 13, 2014

Acclimatisation or fatigue – does qualifying benefit tennis players?

Acclimatisation or fatigue – does qualifying benefit tennis players?

With qualifiers in every tennis tournament, investigating the impact of playing two or three qualifying matches is essential tennis betting analysis. Do qualifiers benefit from acclimatisation to conditions, or does the fatigue incurred from qualifying hinder them? This tennis betting article assesses whether qualifiers are over or under estimated by the betting market.

In most professional tennis tournaments, at least four players win a place through qualifying to take their place in the main draw.  These qualifying matches tend to take place the weekend immediately prior to the event, and qualifiers – depending on their ranking/seeding for qualifiers, and the format of the event – will have to win either two or three qualifying matches to earn their place in the main draw.

These qualifiers give a great chance to lower ranked, unheralded players, to take their place alongside more illustrious names and perhaps have the opportunity to play an elite opponent.

Do players benefit from the extra court time?

The following table illustrates the biggest priced wins by qualifiers in ATP main draw matches in 2013 (all prices Pinnacle’ closing prices): -

Tursunov Ferrer Barcelona R2 21.88
Gonzalez M. Janowicz US Open R1 10.56
Evans Nishikori US Open R1 9.58
Bogomolov Ferrer Montreal R2 8.98
Brown Hewitt Wimbledon R2 7.95
Delbonis Federer Hamburg R5 (Semi-Final) 6.81
Dutra Silva Pospisil V US Open R1 6.12
Herbert Paire Paris R1 5.34

We can see from this table that just eight qualifiers recorded wins priced over 5.00 in 2013, and interestingly four of the eight wins came in Grand Slams.  Furthermore, all other events were at least in the 500 tournament category – going against the theory that top players have more motivation in high-level tournaments.

What is also fascinating to see is that David Ferrer was the victim twice, once on his favoured clay against Dmitry Tursunov, and then against the limited Alex Bogomolov Jr on the hard courts of Montreal.

Many Tennis bettors on forums and social media, as is often the case, tend to make blanket judgements on the effects of qualifying, without having performed any meaningful analysis.  As always, a quantitative approach is preferred, and the purpose of this article is to assess whether the market assesses the effects of qualifying correctly.

Do players gain a benefit by getting used to the courts and conditions?  Or does the accumulated fatigue from two or three qualifying matches, as well as the often large ability differential between qualifiers and main tour players, mean they struggle in the main draw?

In 2013, three ATP players made it through from qualifying to the final of an ATP event.  Nicolas Mahut was the first, actually winning the grass event in s-Hertogenbosch on the way to the first of two grass ATP titles last year.

Both Federico Delbonis (Hamburg) and Mikhail Kukushkin (Moscow) made it through to the finals of their events, but lost to Fabio Fognini and Richard Gasquet respectively.  Delbonis’ achievement is particularly strong, considering that Hamburg has a bigger draw than most normal events.  This meant that the final was actually his sixth main draw match of the week, in addition to his previous qualifying matches.  Beating Roger Federer in the semi-final was a huge achievement, on that basis.

What does the data suggest about players who qualify

The following table illustrates the results of qualifiers in the ATP, sorted by the round that the qualifying matches took place in.

To clarify, matches involving two qualifiers were not sampled, and nor were lucky losers.  Only matches where at least the first set was completed were included, and all prices used were Pinnacle’ closing prices, with £100 level stakes applied to all players from qualifying when in the main draw.

RoundMatchesWinsWin %Profit/LossROI
R1 300 117 39.00 -2656 -8.85
R2 139 35 25.18 -2313 -16.64
R3 29 8 27.59 -839 -28.93
R4 9 3 33.33 -123 -13.67
R5 3 2 66.67 721 240.33
R6 1 0 0.00 -100 -100.00
Overall 481 165 34.30 -5310 -11.04

As you will be able to see from the table, qualifiers did not fare well overall, with a terrible return of investment of –11.04% being generated from 165 winning bets out of 481 (34.30%).

It’s unsurprising that qualifiers don’t have a superb win percentage, obviously due to their low ranking they will generally be some of the weaker players in the draw.  However, this figure is lower than we expected it to be, and clearly from the poor ROI, the market expects better success from qualifying players as well.

The biggest samples came, naturally, in the 1st and 2nd rounds of events.  Whilst the ROI in first round matches was poor, it wasn’t nearly as bad as the second round matches, which had a much lower win percentage, as well as almost the same loss rate – despite not having even half of the first round matches.

This would support the theory that accumulated fatigue affects players from qualifying.  A player will have played either three or four matches by the time they play their second round clash, often in the space of four or five days.  It’s natural that a player will not be as fresh as their opponent by this point in an event.

The evidence in the table above indicates that a blanket strategy of opposing qualifiers, especially from the second round of the main draw onwards, can definitely be considered, and bettors must be aware of the effects of qualifying on a player, and apply that information to their betting decisions.

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