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May 30, 2014
May 30, 2014

Finding a tennis betting edge on grass courts

Finding a tennis betting edge on grass courts

This tennis betting article explains how to find an edge on grass courts. Read more to assess the abilities needed for grass court success, and details of which players have strong and weak grass court records on the ATP Tour. Knowing this information could be the difference between making a profit or not.

What are the characteristics of a good grass court player?

As mentioned in previous articles, the surface characteristics of grass are very different to that of clay, and as a quick refresher, some comparable ATP Tour statistics are detailed below:

Surface12 Month Service Hold12 Month Opponent Break12 Month Aces Per Game12 Month Break Points Per Game
Clay 75.6 24.4 0.35 0.59
Grass 82.4 17.6 0.61 0.49
Overall 78.6 21.4 0.49 0.55

As can be seen from the above table, the average ATP player holds serve 6.8% more on grass than clay, achieves 0.26 more aces per game and faces 0.10 fewer break points per game.

Based on the above statistics, as well as knowledge of the players, it’s logical to assume that grass courts, being the fastest surface on tour, benefit those players who have a big serve.  Good net skills, with the serve/volley style predominant on grass, are also very desirable, as well as the ability to play good drop shots.

These qualities are often quite alien to the traditional clay courters who have weak serves and tend to prefer playing from the baseline on slow surfaces.  On that basis, it’s reasonable to assume that a large number of these players struggle to play on grass, and the appearance statistics of numerous top 100 players bear that out, with some rarely featuring on grass in the European summer months.

The likes of Federico Delbonis, Joao Sousa, Pablo Carreno-Busta, Alejandro Gonzalez, Dusan Lajovic, Blaz Rola and Victor Estrella Burgos can probably be excused not playing frequently on the surface due to their fairly recent ranking rises, which previously would not have seen them eligible for main draw matches in recent years.  Having said that, it’s fairly likely that none of these players have the necessary tools to be successful grass courters.

Players such as Albert Montanes (3 grass matches in the past 3 years), Nikolay Davydenko (3), and Filippo Volandri (4) have less excuse.  It’s clear they have a dislike for the fast surface, and Davydenko – after his first round French Open exit to Robin Haase – has already said he will skip the entire grass court season.

However, there are a number of players who are much more adept on grass, and show considerable improvements on their overall stats on the surface.  The following table details the players who have strong grass court records, compared to their overall records, in the last 3 years (data correct at 28th May, 2014):

PlayerRank3 Year All-Surface: Service Hold %Break Opponent %Combined %3 Year Grass Service Hold %Break Opponent %Combined %Difference
Kubot 63 74.3 22.5 96.8 83.3 22.4 105.7 8.9
Mahut 40 80.9 19.7 100.6 86.8 22.5 109.3 8.7
Mannarino 89 73 19.7 92.7 79.2 21.9 101.1 8.4
Becker 69 74.8 17.3 92.1 80 20 100 7.9
Hewitt 46 75.9 24.6 100.5 83 24.7 107.7 7.2
De Schepper 72 82.3 10.3 92.6 86.8 13 99.8 7.2
Lopez 27 84.8 15.7 100.5 92.4 14.9 107.3 6.8
Janowicz 23 83.7 17 100.7 91.4 15.7 107.1 6.4
Tomic 80 79.7 17.5 97.2 86.5 16.2 102.7 5.5

There were nine players in total in the top 100 that had a grass court combined hold/break percentage more than 5% bigger than that across all surfaces.

Leading the way is Lukasz Kubot, who has very strong grass court stats for his current ranking.  He made the quarter-finals of Wimbledon last year, and his conqueror, Jerzy Janowicz, also made this list.  Both Poles can consider this their best surface.

Nicolas Mahut, whose serve/volley playing style makes him a very strong player on the surface, had the second biggest difference on his way to two grass court titles, whilst Adrian Mannarino, who is defending last 16 points at Wimbledon, was third.

Veteran Lleyton Hewitt was also impressive in 2013, reaching the semi-final of Queens and losing the final to Mahut in Newport.  With a 38-12 record in his last 50 at Wimbledon, he will be one of the unseeded players that no seed will wish to face, along with Mahut.  Eastbourne champion Feliciano Lopez also made the list, and also has compiled an impressive record (32-18) in his last 50 on grass.

The following table details the players who have poor grass court records, compared to their overall records, in the last 3 years (data correct at 28th May, 2014):

PlayerRank3 Year All-Surface: Service Hold %Break Opponent %Combined %3 Year Grass Service Hold %Break Opponent %Combined %Difference
Andujar 78 68.8 25.3 94.1 55.7 12.4 68.1 -26
Matosevic 66 73 22 95 63.6 16.5 80.1 -14.9
Nadal 1 86.1 34.4 120.5 85.4 23.3 108.7 -11.8
Gimeno-Traver 94 74.6 15.8 90.4 73.3 6.2 79.5 -10.9
Hanescu 85 77.6 18.5 96.1 72.6 13.2 85.8 -10.3
Berlocq 47 73.2 28.3 101.5 79.6 15 94.6 -6.9
Wawrinka 3 83.6 24.8 108.4 84.4 17.3 101.7 -6.7
Gulbis 17 82.9 21.6 104.5 87.6 10.6 98.2 -6.3
Mayer L 65 78.8 18.6 97.4 76.9 14.4 91.3 -6.1
Robredo 19 79.2 23.9 103.1 82.8 14.3 97.1 -6
Nieminen 60 75.6 23.1 98.7 81.3 11.7 93 -5.7
Ebden 73 70.8 19.2 90 71.9 12.4 84.3 -5.7
Simon 30 76.2 27.2 103.4 78.2 19.7 97.9 -5.5

What is immediately obvious is how many clay courters make this list.

Andujar, Nadal, Gimeno-Traver, Hanescu, Berlocq, Mayer, Robredo and Simon can all consider clay to be their best surface and clearly do not enjoy playing on grass.  Andujar, who by some distance was the worst player on the list, has failed to win a match in seven attempts on the surface in the last 3 years.

What may be of some surprise to readers is the appearance of Nadal on the list, at third.  The king of clay has two Wimbledon titles (2008 and 2010) to his name in the last ten years and has also been runner-up three times.  However, in recent years he has unimpressed on grass, losing at Wimbledon to Steve Darcis priced at 1.011 in 2013.  In 2012 he was defeated by Lukas Rosol priced at 1.008, as well as losing in Halle to Philipp Kohlschreiber, at 1.149.  What is also worth mentioning is that Nadal failed to play a warm-up grass event prior to Wimbledon last year, and was clearly under prepared for the surface change from his beloved clay.

Also worth mentioning is Stan Wawrinka, who finds himself at 7th in this list. This article illustrated that the Australian Open champion clearly has a distaste for fast surfaces, and his individual grass court stats seen above back that point up well.  The Swiss player could be vulnerable as a heavy favourite on grass this season.

The above statistics clearly show that detailed research of surface records is something that a successful bettor needs to have in their armoury and is a vital facet of a balanced betting strategy.

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