Grass courts are the quickest surface available on the professional Tennis circuit, with both the ATP and WTA Tours showing an increase in both the mean service hold percentage and the average number of aces per game, illustrated by the table below (12 month stats, correct at 17th June, 2015):-
|Service Hold %||Aces per Game||Service Hold %||Aces per Game|
As the table shows, ATP players enjoyed 4.7% more service holds on grass than across all surfaces, whilst WTA players had a 5.1% boost. It is clear that the extra pace of grass allows players opportunities to hold serve easier, as well as recovering from difficult situations in-game, such as 0-30 or break point down on serve.
Grass lends itself to specific live trading opportunities
Given this boost in the average hold percentage, strong servers in the men’s format should expect to hold serve at least 90% on grass, whilst solid servers in the women should be able to hold in excess of 75%. With this dynamic in mind bettors should closely consider in-game trading options with games involving strong servers, weak returners (or both) especially when they are struggling in a service game.
However, as the advantage that big severs have on grass isn’t top secret, bettors should also be wary of any market over compensation towards servers on grass. Markets will be generally very aware that grass events favour servers, and on occasion there may even be an over-reaction in this respect. This can be particularly relevant in the European warm-up events, and ATP Newport, which takes place the week following Wimbledon, which are not as quick in general as the UK-based tournaments and are similarly paced to hard courts.
The importance of tie-breaks at Wimbledon
We can also look at the characteristics of ATP Wimbledon compared to the other three Grand Slams with a view to formulating in-play trading opportunities. Generally speaking, grass conditions create closer sets, as it is more difficult to break opponents serves. On this basis, several key points or tiebreaks frequently dictate the set winner. Whilst the best of five set format exclusive to Grand Slams tends to favour the ‘better’player, the historical scoreline characteristics of grass show that favourites tend not to win in straight sets as much on average.
Only the US Open, played in August, produced fewer 3-0 wins than Wimbledon in the last four years, and the Wimbledon percentage of 51.5% straight set wins was 0.8% below the 2011-2014 Grand Slam average, as well as being 3.7% below the recent French Open average.
In addition to this, there is a clear trend for matches to be decided by a 3-1 scoreline. 31.1% of completed matches in the last four years resulted in this scoreline, and bettors might be interested in looking at the viability of backing players to win by this result. Traders, on the other hand, can use this information in various ways - for example backing the favourite when they lose the first set, or backing the player losing 2-0.
Hard data on Tiebreak frequency
As previously mentioned in the ATP, the pace of the grass courts tends to produce closer sets, and by definition, more tiebreaks. This is not necessarily the only reason for this - in a long Grand Slam match at Wimbledon with less chance of breaking serve than the other three Slams, players are known to ‘tank’ return games when losing in them to conserve energy for their own service games, or a likely tiebreak. The table below illustrates the percentage of sets ending in tiebreaks in each Grand Slam event of the last four years:-
We can see that the three non-grass tournaments have a relatively consistent tiebreaks per match ratio, with the French Open on clay understandably marginally the lowest. However, Wimbledon weighed in at a huge 0.77 tiebreaks per match, 0.19 higher than the Australian Open and 0.20 larger than the US Open.
Wimbledon weighed in at a huge 0.77 tiebreaks per match, 0.19 higher than the Australian Open and 0.20 larger than the US Open
With such a prevalent trend towards tiebreaks at Wimbledon, they should be an integral part in live bettors’ thinking. Researching players who are either particularly strong or weak in tiebreaks could pay dividends, enabling bettors to trade accordingly. An example live tennis betting strategy could incorporate data on tiebreak performance and focus on the strongest/weakest players when one or two mini-breaks down/up in a tiebreak.
Now that Pinnacle offers point-by-point live tennis betting, a huge array of potential trading strategies have opened up for bettors. With Wimbledon fast approaching we have just focused on one of those opportunites - tiebreaks, but with margins still low and our limits as high as ever the scope for live tennis bettors to generate more opportunities for profit has increased tremendously.