Monday, 26 January 2015

How To Profit From Betting On Tennis Wild Cards

Tennis Wild Cards are a controversial subject amongst Tennis bettors, with discussions taking place as to whether they should be awarded at all. This article looks at how tennis wild cards perform in the ATP, and whether there are any betting patterns you should consider?

Controversy & Tennis Wild Cards
Each tournament in 2014 had a space for at least one Wild Card, with most presenting at least three, and Grand Slams giving eight. The award of these Wild Cards is incredibly controversial and political, with some countries having cross-nation relationships, and several tournaments - in particular Doha, Acapulco and Bastad - giving places in the main draw to virtual no-hopers, ranked outside the top 300 in the world.

Furthermore, players from bigger countries with more tournaments frequently benefit from a number of Wild Cards, with a high proportion given to home players. American Jack Sock, in particular, has been gifted a number of direct entries into events from Wild Cards in the last couple of years.

Debate rages around awarding Wild Cards to no-hopers, and tour veterans whose ranking has declined (Marcos Baghdatis received a number of Wild Cards last season) as opposed to young prospects.

2014 ATP tennis Wild Card performance
The following table illustrates the results of Wild Cards in the 2014 ATP season. A £100 hypothetical bet was applied to all Wild Cards, and only matches where at least one set was completed were included in the sample.

Rank <100
100-200
201-300
301+
Rank 100+ Combined
Matches
64
156
39
55
250
Won
35
58
10
10
78
Win %
54.7
37.2
25.6
18.2
31.2
P/L
1963
-174
-892
-1243
-2309
ROI
30.7
-1.1
-22.9
-22.6
-9.2
Biggest Win
11.73
10.72
3.87
13.03
13.03

As can be seen from the table, players ranked under 100 who received Wild Cards thrived, with a very strong 30.7% ROI from 64 matches.

Wild Cards in top 100 offer value
These stats were boosted by David Goffin’s run to the title in Kitzbuhel (after many strong Challenger Tour performances), while Somdev Devvarman’s win priced at 11.73 over Juan Del Potro, where the Argentine retired with a wrist injury after the first set, flattered the results for top 100 Wild Cards.

Bernard Tomic, who was ranked in the second bracket, also converted a Wild Card to tournament success in Bogota, but the Australian was one of the better players in the field, with four of his five wins coming as favourite. Overall, the 100-200 ranked players had a slight loss recorded over a decent 156 match sample, with Tatsuma Ito’s win over Stan Wawrinka in Tokyo being the biggest priced win at 10.72.

For players ranked over 200, Wild Card success was very limited. Overall, returns of -22.9% and -22.6% were recorded for the 201-300 rank and 300+ rank respectively, and these figures for the 300+ rank would have been even worse if it wasn’t for Chuhan Wang’s win, priced 13.03, over the combustible Fabio Fognini in the Shanghai Masters, in addition to several wins for Viktor Troicki.

Ranking discrepancy provides opportunity for bettors
This discrepancy between Wild Card rank is fascinating and should be of great interest to bettors. The data clearly indicates that the market underestimates higher ranked players receiving Wild Cards.
In addition to the previously mentioned success of Goffin and Tomic, Igor Sijsling (Rotterdam), Thomaz Bellucci (Sao Paulo) and Alexander Zverev (Hamburg) all reached semi-finals. Nick Kyrgios made the quarter-finals of Wimbledon as a Wild Card, defeating Rafael Nadal in the round of 16. Nadal also succumbed to Wild Cards Borna Coric in Basel and Dustin Brown in Halle.

Interestingly, with the exception of Sijsling, Bellucci and Brown, the other players named are all young players with high potential. Bettors should be very interested in this angle, with young Wild Cards ranked around 150 or higher having excellent results last season as a Wild Card entrant.

Overall, Wild Card players ranked over 100 recorded a -9.2% ROI. On this basis, bettors would be advised to back these players only in select circumstances, and this is particularly the case for Wild Cards ranked over 200.

This article should give bettors plenty of thought about Wild Cards in the future, and illustrates that these situations should be added to their standard betting research.