When is a Tennis player most likely to hold serve?

29/06/2013 | By | 2 Replies More

If you back a player before they serve, they are very likely to win their service game. At which point the odds will contract and you can net a profit, hurrah! Sounds easy, but nothing ever is that simple is it?

So, one itching question I sought to solve last year was “Which game is a player most likely to win on serve”. The hypothesis was that the propensity to win on serve is higher at some times than others.

To cut a very long spreadsheet short. The statistically correct answer, from all the data I looked at, is that the very first service game of the very first set is where a player is most likely to hold.

┬áIt would seem that when players come out to play the server wants to get off to a clean start and the receiver doesn’t worry about taking too many risks as well. Often both use the early games to probe and test their opponent. Maybe also an underdog knows a decent service hold is the only chance to make inroads to a more competitive opponent?

Which ever way you look at it, players hold serve on the first game of a match more frequently than any other game.

From a trading perspective that’s a bit annoying. You really want a high pay off and low risk. This scenario presents you a lower risk but also a lower payoff. The average movement on the first game is, obviously, much less than later on in the match. Check this out using Tennis trader.

But there you go, another interesting stat for you.

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Category: Tennis, Trading strategies

About the Author ()

I left a good job in the consumer technology industry to go a trade on Betfair for a living way back in June 2000. I've been here ever since pushing very boundaries of what's possible on betting exchanges and loved every minute of it.

Comments (2)

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  1. dmbusa says:

    Interesting then that most players now appear to choose to receive first, and the commentators say that is because they perceeve that the first game is the one they are most likely to break.

  2. Peter Webb says:

    Yeah, we have discovered lots of oddities in the data. One reason players may choose to receive is that they are good returners of serve and will try to pressure a weaker opponent. Murray has excellent return stats and will often do this.

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