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Jan 31, 2014
Jan 31, 2014

Does the tennis market over-react following a retirement?

Does the tennis market over-react following a retirement?

ATP and WTA Tennis bettors should be aware of player retirements and the affect they have on the following markets. These are often a source of great frustration amongst Tennis bettors with much debate on social media about the ethics of a player retiring from one event, and then playing the next week. This article looks at the effects of retirements in tennis betting and whether or not the market over-reacts following a retirement?

Are the players injured so badly they have to retire?

The speculation that has been heightened by recent events this season, particularly in the Australian Open, which featured far more retirements than average, as the players struggled with the intense heat in the first week.

Some players seem to retire more often than others – Mikhail Youzhny, for example, retired four times since the start of the 2013 season and has done so three times in 12 matches since October, whilst Michael Russell has done so six times since the start of the 2013 season.

Obviously there are many instances where a player has little option but to retire, but are there instances where a player retires without being, and may therefore be under-rated by the market the next week?

Certainly there are many examples of players having much bigger prices than may normally be expected after they retired the previous week.  Some examples that I noted from my research were the following:-

  •  Andy Murray was 1.14 against Nicolas Mahut at Queens, 3 weeks after retiring against Marcel Granollers with a back injury.
  •  Jarkko Nieminen was 1.56 against Bjorn Phau in Sydney (winning 6-0 6-1) after he retired the previous week with a migraine.
  •  Horacio Zeballos beat Martin Fischer in Kitzbuhel priced 2.59 after retiring with a stomach muscle problem the previous week, and then retired when losing 6-0 2-0 in the next round.
  •  Alex Bogomolov Jr beat Neil Pauffley (World Rank 438 at the time) in qualifying at Eastbourne priced 1.24 after retiring with a chest infection the previous week.
  •  Michael Russell beat Hiroki Moriya when priced 2.17 in qualifying for Tokyo after retiring the previous week with a knee injury.
  •  Sorana Cirstea beat Sharon Fichman when priced 1.36 after retiring the week before.

The problem with these prices is that they might be considered ‘too good to be true’ on occasion, and certainly the market is very wary about players that have injury doubts or have retired in their last match.

I decided to analyse whether prices on a previously injured player were indeed justified, or whether there was an over-reaction to the previous retirement by the markets.

To clarify, I researched all current top 100 players in the ATP and WTA between the start of the 2013 season and the 28th January 2014.  The rank used for analysis was the player’s rank at the time of the relevant match.  All prices used were Pinnacle’ closing prices.

The following tables illustrate how the ATP players fared following a retirement in their previous match.

By Rank:-

RankMatchesWinsWin%P/L to level (£100 stakes)ROI
Top 10 6 4 66.67 -30 -5.00
11-20 10 10 100.00 913 91.30
21-50 30 18 60.00 541 18.03
51-100 41 23 56.10 592 14.44
Overall 87 56 64.37 2016 23.17

By Price:-

PriceMatchesWinsWin%P/L to level (£100 stakes)ROI
<1.20 8 8 100.00 99 12.38
1.20-1.49 24 21 87.50 472 19.67
1.50-1.99 20 13 65.00 211 10.55
2.00-2.99 17 10 58.82 754 44.35
3.00-5.99 12 2 16.67 -425 -35.42
6.00+ 6 2 33.33 905 150.83
Overall 87 56 64.37 2016 23.17

By Length of Absence:-

AbsenceMatchesWinsWin%P/L to level (£100 stakes)ROI
1 Week 30 21 70.00 1457 48.57
2 Weeks 27 22 81.48 1030 38.15
3-4 Weeks 21 9 42.86 -194 -9.24
>1 Month 9 4 44.44 -277 -30.78
Overall 87 56 64.37 2016 23.17

What we can analyse from the above tables is that whilst the ATP sample is relatively small, it showed an excellent overall return of investment of 23.17% when backing a player that has retired in their previous match.  That would indicate the market’s scepticism of a player’s fitness in this situation is not necessarily justified.

The most telling table is the length of absence table, which shows a clear disparity between short and long absences from action.

Returns for players returning after one or two weeks were huge, with 43 wins from 57 matches returning a profit of £2487 from level £100 stakes, and generating a magnificent return on investment of 43.63%.  I’d be very surprised if this huge ROI was sustainable over a larger sample but it would be highly unlikely that it would not be strongly positive.

The only conclusion I can draw from this is that ATP players that retire and then play the week later only had a minor injury or illness which after treatment or rest causes them little issues the following week.

However, based on the data, longer absences seem more genuine and clearly take longer for a player to recover from, and backing ATP players after a three week or longer absence should be done in very select circumstances.

Vice-Versa in the WTA

The following tables illustrate how WTA players fared following a retirement in their previous match, and show exactly why the two Tours need to be treated very differently…

By Rank:-

RankMatchesWinsWin%P/L to level (£100 stakes)ROI
Top 10 1 1 100.00 38 38.00
11-20 4 2 50.00 -119 -29.75
21-50 33 16 48.48 -609 -18.45
51-100 25 13 52.00 -340 -13.60
Overall 63 32 50.79 -1030 -16.35

By Price:-

PriceMatchesWinsWin%P/L to level (£100 stakes)ROI
<1.20 4 2 50.00 -160 -40.00
1.20-1.49 22 15 68.18 -166 -7.55
1.50-1.99 15 10 66.67 161 10.73
2.00-2.99 14 5 35.71 -65 -4.64
3.00-5.99 6 0 0.00 -600 100
6.00+ 2 0 0.00 -200 100.00
Overall 63 32 50.79 -1030 -16.35

By Length of Absence:-

AbsenceMatchesWinsWin%P/L to level (£100 stakes)ROI
1 Week 30 11 36.67 -1171 -39.03
2 Weeks 11 8 72.73 155 14.09
3-4 Weeks 12 9 75.00 35 2.92
>1 Month 10 4 40.00 -49 -4.90
Overall 63 32 50.79 -1030 -16.35

Whilst there were less matches in the sample it is clear that the WTA results were in complete contrast to the ATP.  There was a huge negative return of -16.35% from the 63 matches sampled in the WTA.

The worst area by far in the WTA was when a player returned immediately to action the following week – the polar opposite to the ATP.  Whilst it is impossible to draw a concrete conclusion to why this may be the case, my feeling is that it is due to financial reasons – the lower levels of the ATP are probably more lucrative to the players than the comparable levels of the WTA.  Therefore the WTA players, on this basis, need to participate when not fully fit, as they need the prize money more, and cannot afford to pay fines for late withdrawals.

We can use the information in this article to our advantage, looking to selectively back ATP players when having retired in the previous match, and looking to oppose WTA players on the same basis.

The statistics in this article show that the key to successful Tennis betting is treating the ATP and WTA Tours as completely separate entities, using relevant analysis for each tour.

Pinnacle’ rules on tennis retirements

When betting on tennis it is vital to understand Pinnacle’ rules on retirements. Click here to see Pinnacle’ comprehensive rules regarding Tennis retirement or disqualification.

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