A detailed knowledge of player tendencies is crucial to achieve successful tennis betting. With some players extremely consistent, and others capable of big wins and humiliating defeats, this article looks at what this means for your tennis betting.
Unlike team sports a tennis player must rely on their own abilities and motivation to see them through a match - they don’t have another 10 team-mates, as they would in soccer to ‘hide’ them - so if a player isn’t motivated to win a match, they will almost certainly lose, irrespective of the abilities of their opponent.
It is highly likely that at some point, tennis bettors have been extremely frustrated by a player’s lack of consistency, wondering how it is capable that a player can beat an elite player in one match, and then suffer a shocking defeat in another.
The impact of mental state
There is no doubt that player motivation is a variable aspect of tennis, with some players much more renowned for mental frailties and inconsistency than others.
Fabio Fognini is an excellent example. The volatile Italian has beaten Rafael Nadal on clay twice this season already (clearly an excellent achievement), yet lost in facile nature 6-1 6-3 to Pablo Andujar and 6-3 6-0 to Dominic Thiem shortly after the second victory over Nadal, leaving fans and bettors a-like baffled as to how this could possibly happen.
Fognini also stooped even lower, losing at 1.064 to 553 ranked Chuhan Wang in the first round of the Shanghai Masters in October 2014.
From an initial glance, it seems apparent that Fognini is a player who has a very high potential ability, but also a very low ‘worst level’, making him highly inconsistent.
On this basis, analysis was performed on the last 50 matches for current top 50 ATP players in a variety of categories to assess any apparent tendencies that these players have, and the full results can be seen at the end of this article.
When playing strong favourites
Below are the best records, filtered for ROI % based on bookmakers closing prices, against top 10 opponents (minimum 20 matches). These players should be able to perform at a higher level than market expectations against top players:
- Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 184.5%
- Kei Nishikori 87.7%
- John Isner 44.1%
- Julien Benneteau 27.1%
- Jeremy Chardy 25.5%
Worst records, filtered for ROI % based on bookmakers closing prices, against top 10 opponents (minimum 20 matches).
These players are unlikely to achieve market expectations against top players:
- Santiago Giraldo -86.6%
- Viktor Troicki -70.4%
- Kevin Anderson -52.8%
- Andreas Seppi -42.9%
- Benjamin Becker -42.3%
When strong favourites
Best records, filtered for ROI % based on bookmakers closing prices, when heavy favourite (SP <1.20) (minimum 20 matches). These players have performed consistently against significantly worse opponents:
- Kevin Anderson 12.3% (100% career record)
- David Goffin 8.7%
- Lukas Rosol 7.6%
- Jeremy Chardy 7.5%
- Andreas Seppi 6.9%
These are the players with the worst records, filtered for ROI % based on bookmakers closing prices, when heavy favourite (SP <1.20) (minimum 20 matches). These players have been inconsistent against significantly worse opponents, which could be determined by a lack of motivation:
- Fabio Fognini -15.4%
- Andreas Haider-Maurer -15.3%
- Rafael Nadal -14.1%
- Fernando Verdasco -7.9%
- Stan Wawrinka -7.6%
When heavy underdogs
Best records, filtered for ROI % based on bookmakers closing prices, when heavy underdog (SP <3.00) (minimum 20 matches). These players have over-performed when expected to be much weaker than their opponent:
- Kei Nishikori 92.9%
- Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 88.8%
- Ivo Karlovic 61.0%
- Victor Estrella Burgos 53.5%
- Martin Klizan 47.9%
Worst records, filtered for ROI % based on bookmakers closing prices, when heavy underdog (SP <3.00) (minimum 20 matches). These players have failed to up their game against high quality opposition:
- Santiago Giraldo -55.1%
- Benjamin Becker -51.5%
- Richard Gasquet -47.0%
- Viktor Troicki -45.8%
- Juan Monaco -39.9%
Immediately these stats tell us that Fognini is - as expected - very inconsistent, with the worst record as heavy favourite in the top 50.
It is also highly unlikely that many bettors will be surprised at the inclusion of Verdasco and Wawrinka in this bracket.
Santiago Giraldo, Benjamin Becker and Viktor Troicki featured in the worst records against top 10 players, and that of heavy underdog, so it appears backing this trio against top-level opposition is a bad prospect. They simply do not appear to have a ‘big match’ in their locker.
However, this is not the case for either Nishikori or Garcia-Lopez, who seem very apt at being able to step it up against top players, and both seem very capable of over-performing market expectations generally.
With the data from this article, tennis bettors should be in a much better position to work out expectations for players, both in terms of consistency as heavy favourites, as well as a player’s potential to pull out a big performance against an elite opponent.