Aug 31, 2018
Aug 31, 2018

Analysing fatigue at Grand Slams

Court minutes in tennis betting

How long do the top players play on average?

Should bettors take court time into account?

Analysing fatigue at Grand Slams

Grand Slam tennis tournaments test player’s physical capabilities like no other events on the ATP Tour - this article looks at whether analysing the time spent on court can help bettors gain an advantage in the tennis betting markets.

Court minutes in tennis betting

It has often been discussed that the best of five set format in Grand Slam events make them the ultimate physical test for male tennis players and that top players should do all they can to avoid playing long matches in the early rounds against inferior opposition.

Readers with a good memory may recall Andy Murray at the French Open in 2014. Leading 6-4 6-1 against Gael Monfils, it looked like an easy victory was on the cards for the Scotsman. However, Murray allowed the enigmatic Monfils back into the match, eventually winning 6-0 in the fifth set.

This turned what looked like a routine victory into a 195 minute battle, and although 195 minutes isn’t nearly the longest Grand Slam match in the latter stages over recent years, it’s one that may have been avoidable, particularly given the fact that Murray played a 247 minute epic with Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round that year, culminating in a 12-10 final set triumph.

The effects of this accumulated fatigue on Murray should not be underestimated. A French Open semi-final against Nadal is one of the toughest propositions in Tennis at any time, let alone after several lengthy matches against inferior opposition, and Murray - after that victory over Monfils - won just six games in total during a straight-set rout, which took the King of Clay just 100 minutes across three sets.

How long do the top players play on average?

When assessing the top men’s tennis players over the last three years to see who was best at preserving energy prior to the business end of tournaments, one name was out there on his own at the top of the list - Roger Federer.

As can be seen from the table below, the Swiss legend - probably due to both understanding the effects of lengthy matches on his ageing body, as well as a game style which keeps points short - averaged 70 minutes fewer on court to get to the quarter finals of Grand Slam events during this time period, compared to his nearest rival, Marin Cilic:

Average minutes played by top players

Player QFs 2016+ Minutes Mean Minutes
Federer 7 3130 447.1
Cilic 5 2589 517.8
Djokovic 7 3643 520.4
Querrey 3 1619 539.7
Murray 6 3375 562.5
Thiem 3 1691 563.7
Nadal 6 3410 568.3
Del Potro 4 2288 572.0
Berdych 5 2922 584.4
Nishikori 4 2382 595.5
Tsonga 3 1798 599.3
Raonic 5 3009 601.8
Wawrinka 4 2530 632.5

Indeed, Federer managed four of the 10 lowest court times to get to the quarter finals of a Slam since 2016, with Cilic and Djokovic recording two apiece as well - it would appear that this trio are considerably ahead of their rivals when it comes to winning quick matches against inferior opposition. Djokovic (312 minutes) spent the least time on court to get to a quarter-final in an individual event, doing so in the US Open in 2016.

On average, players in this three-year sample took 569.23 minutes to reach the Quarter Finals of a Grand Slam, so it is evident that the likes of Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka took considerably longer on average to reach this stage.

It’s also worth noting that three players - Albert Ramos (755 minutes, 2016 French Open), Mischa Zverev (763 minutes, 2016 Australian Open) and Lucas Pouille (786 minutes, 2016 US Open) took over 750 minutes to reach the quarter-finals, and none of these three players even won a set, or covered the game handicap line in their subsequent match.

Should bettors take court time into account?

Over the last three years, there were 77 matches when a player had accumulated less court time than their rival in a quarter-final, semi-final or final match in Grand Slam. Blind-backing the fresher player would have won 48 of 76 bets (63.16%) and a hypothetical £100 stake on each of these players (Andy Murray and Milos Raonic had accumulated the same court minutes prior to their match) would have returned £281, at a return on investment of 3.70%.

While this is a small sample, it’s certainly encouraging to consider that the market isn’t quite factoring this enough into its pricing, and a bigger sample would be of great interest. In addition, looking at the 11 players who played over four hours less than their opponent at these stages had excellent results from a tiny sample, and these generated 10.45% ROI and are listed below:

Four hour time difference quarterfinal analysis

Tournament

Year

Round

Player 1

Time Spent

Player 2

Time Spent

Difference

P1 Price

P1 Staked

P1 W/L

P1 P/L

P1 Rolling P&L

P1 Rolling ROI

US Open

2016

F

Djokovic

549

Wawrinka

1095

-546

1.35

100

L

-100

-100

-100.00

Aus Open

2018

F

Federer

666

Cilic

1031

-365

1.25

100

W

25

-75

-37.50

US Open

2016

QF

Djokovic

312

Tsonga

654

-342

1.16

100

W

16

-59

-19.67

Wimbledon

2018

F

Djokovic

953

Anderson

1279

-326

1.21

100

W

21

-38

-9.50

French Open

2016

F

Djokovic

765

Murray

1089

-324

1.35

100

W

35

-3

-0.60

Aus Open

2017

F

Federer

834

Nadal

1157

-323

2.25

100

W

125

122

20.33

French Open

2017

F

Nadal

616

Wawrinka

939

-323

1.21

100

W

21

143

20.43

US Open

2016

QF

Monfils

482

Pouille

786

-304

1.24

100

W

24

167

20.88

Wimbledon

2017

QF

Cilic

492

Muller

778

-286

1.23

100

W

23

190

21.11

Wimbledon

2017

F

Federer

612

Cilic

885

-273

1.25

100

W

25

215

21.50

Wimbledon

2018

QF

Federer

377

Anderson

626

-249

1.08

100

L

-100

115

10.45

Hopefully this has given readers some food for thought for further analysis, and the US Open starting is likely to generate some opportunities to oppose weary players in the near future.

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