Mar 31, 2015
Mar 31, 2015

Clay court tennis betting strategy

Clay court tennis betting strategy
This clay court tennis betting strategy article focuses on the differing court conditions across the schedule, and the records of strong return players on clay, to identify betting opportunities.

With the ATP & WTA tennis schedule moving from hard court to clay court tennis bettors should be aware of the differences.

Clay events have very different characteristics to the harder surfaces, with fewer service holds, fewer aces and generally much longer rallies. Clay matches are arguably a stronger test of a player’s fitness level than other surfaces. 

The table below illustrates the significant difference in service hold percentage and aces per game between clay courts and other surfaces:

Surface2 Year mean service hold %2 Year mean aces per game
ATP
Clay 75.7 0.35
Hard 79.4 0.55
Indoor Hard 80.8 0.58
Grass 83.6 0.65
WTA
Clay 61.9 0.19
Hard 63.8 0.25
Indoor Hard 63.1 0.26
Grass 69.6 0.31

With the difference so evident in the table above, the following table highlights the court speed of each ATP & WTA event for the clay court schedule in 2015 (sorted from fast to slow):

ATP TournamentCategory2 Year Serivce Hold %Deviation from Clay Mean %
Madrid 1000 80.2 4.5
Gstaad 250 78.6 2.9
Munich 250 78.2 2.5
Rome 1000 77.7 2
Houston 250 76.6 0.9
French Open Grand Slam 76.4 0.7
Nice 250 75.5 -0.2
Barcelona 500 74.7 -1
Bucharest 250 74.6 -1.1
Kitzbuhel 250 74.2 -1.5
Hamburg 500 73.5 -2.2
Bastad 250 73.2 -2.5
Casablanca 250 72.4 -3.3
Monte Carlo 1000 72.1 -3.6
Oeiras 250 71.1 -4.6
Umag 250 70.9 -4.8

Bettors should use this information in conjunction with this previous article, which looks at court data for fast and slow courts.

What the clay court data suggests

Interestingly the Madrid Masters/Premier - one of the biggest events on the clay calendar – appears at the top of both the ATP and WTA Tour and clearly has very fast conditions, which is likely to suit bigger servers. It will almost certainly not play as a traditional clay court. 

Conversely, Bastad has low service hold percentages for both Tours, and conditions in Sweden appear to be very slow indeed. This is also the case for both clay events in Morocco (ATP Casablanca and WTA Marrakech).  These events will favour the traditional clay courters.

ATP Gstaad - played at altitude - unsurprisingly shows up as a fast court, although surprisingly Kitzbuhel - which is also played well above sea level - does not.

How strong ATP & WTA returners perform on clay

Particularly in the ATP, certain players have a strong preference towards clay or hard surfaces, which results in a big difference in their results between the two surfaces.

We identified in previous articles how to tell a player who is stronger on return than serve by using the formula (service hold % - break opponent %), with lower figures indicating the player is strong on return. 

From our list of the top ten ATP strong returners, only Matt Ebden isn’t considered close to a clay-courter – meaning the list highlights players who favour clay courts.

In comparison the WTA list is far less biased towards clay-courters, and only Chanelle Scheepers, Sara Errani, Estrella Cabeza Candela and Lourdes Dominguez Lino would be considered much better on the dirt.

The table below illustrates the records of strong ATP and WTA returners on clay in their last 50 matches on the surface, with Pinnacle’ closing prices being used from a £100 hypothetical bet on each players’ match:

PlayerLast 50 Clay MatchesWinsWin %P/LROI
Andujar 50 28 56 446 9.5
Monaco 50 29 58 -453 -9.2
Lorenzi 50 26 52 -741 -16.5
Fognini 50 35 70 1073 21.9
Ferrer 50 39 78 345 7.2
Berlocq 50 32 64 1018 20.8
Ebden 23 6 26 -1075 -71.7
Falla 50 25 50 -761 -16.9
Garcia-Lopez 50 30 60 1444 28.9
Gabashvili 50 31 62 1914 40.7
ATP Returners 473 281 59 3210 6.8
Beck 50 30 60 -836 -16.7
Scheepers 50 28 56 354 7.1
Errani 50 39 78 378 13.1
Radwanska U 50 19 38 -64 -1.7
Hsieh 50 23 46 -574 -27.3
Dolonc 50 24 48 146 5.6
Cabeza Candela 50 27 54 -636 -20.5
Niculescu 50 24 48 -466 -12.6
Koukalova 50 26 52 -868 -18.1
Dominguez Lino 50 33 66 354 7.5
WTA Returners 500 273 55 -2212 -4.4

It’s clear that ATP strong returners have an edge on clay, returning 6.8% from 473 matches. And If we filter out Ebden, who was identified as a player who doesn’t favour clay courts, this increased to 9.5%. 

On this basis, it appears that the markets are under-rating ATP clay courters who are strong on return.

The WTA players list is much more random, and the betting success evident in the ATP is not replicated on the women’s tour. 

However, of the four women’s clay courters previously identified, three - Sara Errani, Lourdes Dominguez Lino and Chanelle Scheepers - were the most profitable from the sample.

Even when including Estrella Cabeza Candela - who has dropped to 300 in the world - they generated a return of investment of 2.25%.

Clay Court betting strategy

The data indicates that clay courters whose strength lies on return are clearly under-rated by the pre-match betting markets and bettors should factor this into their decision making in subsequent clay court tournaments this year.

In addition, tennis bettors should take notice of the differing clay court conditions and note certain events fluctuate quite dramatically from the clay court mean.

tennis-bet-learn-more.jpg

Betting Resources - Empowering your betting

Pinnacle’s Betting Resources is one of the most comprehensive collections of expert betting advice anywhere online. Catering to all experience levels our aim is simply to empower bettors to become more knowledgeable.