Jun 27, 2014
Jun 27, 2014

# How does accumlated fatigue impact tennis players

Accumulated fatigue is a factor that Tennis players should avoid to give themselves the best chances of winning their subsequent matches. This article assesses whether playing a final set tiebreak – by definition a long match – in the ATP Tour has any impact on a player’s chances of winning their next match.

A final set tiebreak will almost always mean that a match has a long duration. Given that there will be 13 games played in the final set, a minimum of 25 games will have to be played in order to complete the match. Assuming that the ATP mean for games played per set precedes this final set tiebreak, a mean figure of around 32 games per match would be generated when a final set tie-break occurs.

Considering the ATP mean figure for games per match is much lower than this (around 23) playing 32 games per match requires much more energy to be expended by the two players playing a final set tiebreak. Therefore it is logical to assume that this will do the final set tiebreak winner no favours for their next match, having generally used more energy in their previous round.

The following table illustrates the statistics for the current top 70 players (as at 26th June 2014) on the ATP Tour for their subsequent match following a final set tiebreak. A hypothetical bet of £100 was applied to their subsequent match, with all prices used being Pinnacle’ closing prices. Only ATP Tour and Tennis Masters Tournaments were sampled, and only main draw matches were used (no qualifiers). The data sample used was from 26th June 2013 to 26th June 2014:

Field1.251.25-1.501.51-1.992.00-2.993.00+FavouriteUnderdogOverall
Matches 4 14 10 26 34 28 60 88
Wins 2 12 6 10 7 20 17 37
Win % 50 85.71 60 38.46 20.59 71.43 28.33 42.05
P/L -160 248 174 -248 -276 262 -524 -262
ROI -40 17.71 17.40 -9.54 -8.12 9.36 -8.73 -2.98

What is immediately obvious from the table above is that there actually weren’t a huge sample of matches decided by a final set tiebreak – just 88 in the sample. From these 88 matches, 37 players won their subsequent match, achieving a win percentage of 42.05%. This sample generated a slight loss of -2.98%, which whilst being unimpressive, isn’t a huge disaster for a blind-backed scenario.

However, what is more useful is the huge discrepancy between how players performed when they were favourite in their next match, as opposed to being an underdog. Quite incredibly, more favourites (20) won their next match than underdogs (17), despite underdogs playing over twice as many matches. This generated a very nice return on investment – from a small sample – for favourites, but a significantly worse return for underdogs.

Therefore, based on the sample above, it would appear that the market under-rates the chances of a player after a final set tiebreak when they are favourite in their next match. This is logical as one of the many areas where a higher ranked player is better than a lower ranked player is their general fitness. Therefore it would appear that the ‘better’ player deals much better with this scenario.

During research, it was also very apparent that some players dealt much better than others with these situations.

Of the top players, Tomas Berdych’s record in final set tiebreaks was poor – losing 7-6 in the third set to Ivo Karlovic, Nicolas Almagro, and Vasek Pospisil. Igor Sijsling had a horrific record, winning a solitary final set tiebreak out of eight, but the big-serving Karlovic won all five of his final set tiebreaks in the last 12 months. Even more impressively, the Croat’s wins came when he was generously priced – against Tobias Kamke (2.34), Pablo Carreno-Busta (3.80), Daniel Brands (1.97), Berdych (4.63) and Denis Istomin (2.28). Jeremy Chardy also managed five final set tiebreak victories, but struggled with the consequences, with just one win out of those five subsequent matches, and another big-server, John Isner, managed four final set tiebreak wins from seven matches.

Despite underdogs performing badly overall, there were some high-priced winners in subsequent matches following a final set tiebreak.

The biggest priced win was Florian Mayer, who defeated Andy Murray in Doha when priced 6.72. Closely behind was Kei Nishikori, who defeated Roger Federer when priced at 5.97, and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who got the better of Marin Cilic when priced at 5.67.

The worst defeat for a player after a final set tiebreak was Phillip Kohlschreiber’s recent defeat in the semi-finals on the grass of Halle to Alejandro Falla – priced at 1.18. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s loss to Robin Haase in the semi-finals of Vienna in October, priced 1.24, was the other match where a player priced under 1.25 lost after a preceding final set tiebreak.

It can be seen that tennis bettors should definitely consider the way a player won their previous match and whether accumulated fatigue is an issue for their subsequent match. Reacting accordingly to that is recommended, as part of a balanced betting strategy.

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