The best and worst players from winning positions in the ATP

30/04/2015 | By | Reply More

Further to last week’s article which looked at the application of a blanket strategy, and the usage of WTA stats to illustrate why this is a bad idea, I thought I’d move onto some more detailed applications of statistics in the ATP, which is something I’ve been looking at in great detail lately.

 An objective way to categorise front runners has been my major focus, with a particular plan of trying to work out which players are lucrative to lay at low prices.  In the vast majority of cases, a player will be strong odds-on, and in some cases very low priced indeed, when they are either a set and break up in a match, or a break up in the final set.  This allows us to lay the player with a low risk if we lose the trade, but a high upside if we win the trade, or indeed the player we have laid ends up losing the set or the match.

 I settled on three metrics to use to assess front-runners.

  1. Taking the first break when player wins the 1st set.
  2. Retention of the first set and break lead in the 2nd set.
  3. Retention of the first break lead in the 3rd set.

 Researching players’ statistics in these areas allowed me to create a ‘front-runner’ score for the ATP top 100, and a few other notable players – effectively a combined percentage that these players succeeded in retaining all three leading situations.  Undertaking this research also allowed me to see individual player dynamics that exist – for example some players perform much better in gaining the first break of the 2nd set, but much worse at retaining a set and break lead, or vice-versa.

 I ploughed through the point by point history of results since July 2014 (quite some job!) and found a number of amazing statistics (Min 15 leading situations – data correct 1st July 2014 to 24th April 2015):-

 Most leading situations:-

  •  David Ferrer 74
  • Novak Djokovic 72
  • Andy Murray 63

 Best Set 2 Front Runner Scores:-

  •  Julien Benneteau 95.5%
  • John Isner 88.5%
  • Albert Ramos 88.2%

 Worst Set 2 Front Runner Scores:-

  •  Igor Sijsling 41.7%
  • Robin Haase 41.7%
  • Stan Wawrinka 47.6%

 Best Set 2&3 Combined Front Runner Scores:-

  •  Julien Benneteau 92.0%
  • John Isner 88.9%
  • Roger Federer 84.3%

 Worst Set 2&3 Combined Front Runner Scores:-

  •  Diego Schwartzman 46.7%
  • Marcel Granollers 47.8%
  • Lukas Rosol 48.3%

 Best record for getting 1st break in 2nd set when won 1st set:-

  •  Julien Benneteau 11-0
  • Albert Ramos 8-1
  • Ernests Gulbis 8-1

 Worst record for getting 1st break in 2nd set when won 1st set:-

  •  Stan Wawrinka 4-10
  • Robin Haase 3-6
  • Dominic Thiem 6-10

 Best record for maintaining set and break leads:-

 John Isner, Federico Delbonis, Simone Bolelli, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jerzy Janowicz all 100%

 Worst record for maintaining set and break leads:-

  •  Diego Schwartzman 1-4
  • Juan Monaco 6-13
  • Joao Sousa 3-6

 Players good at maintaining low lay (Set and break or break up in the 3rd set) positions:-

  •  John Isner 12-0
  • Jerzy Janowicz 10-0
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 9-1

 Players bad at maintaining low lay (Set and break or break up in the 3rd set) positions:-

  •  Diego Schwartzman 2-6
  • Joao Sousa 5-8
  • Juan Monaco 11-17

 Quite amazingly, there are two unheralded names at the top of the set two front-runner charts – Julien Benneteau and Albert Ramos, and Benneteau makes it as the best overall ATP front-runner.  This may surprise some people but it’s relatively logical considering that his record when losing is terrible!  Isner’s and Federer’s appearances are much more predictable.

 The Dutch duo of Igor Sijsling and Robin Haase were the worst for choking in set 2 – quite predictably given their notoriety – and they were joined by top 10 player Stan Wawrinka, whose atrocious 4-10 record for gaining the first break of set 2 when he won set 1 was the worst on Tour.

 A different trio – Schwartzman, Granollers and Rosol – were the overall worst front runners, and Schwartzman also was the worst performing player in low lay spots, meaning that he cannot be relied upon at all to see leads out easily.  Fellow clay courter Juan Monaco, and Portuguese Joao Sousa join him in that list.

 Finally, the likes of John Isner and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga being included in the list of strong players in low lay positions should surprise nobody – they have been regulars at the top of my break-back percentage research since it began several years ago.  However Jerzy Janowicz may surprise some, with the Pole more noted for volatility – it would appear that when his game is good, he’s very tough to beat.

Many Thanks to Dan Weston who was the guest poster for this article, visit Dan’s excellent Tennis ratings site for lots of useful Tennis stats.

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Category: Tennis, Trading strategies

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