Assessing ATP players in late games of sets

10/07/2015 | By | Reply More

Something that is frequently discussed on social media is a player’s ability at the start of the set, or at the end of the set.  Last week we looked at the ability of servers in this respect, but today I want to take the opportunity to look at strong and weak returners at the beginning or close of sets.

As mentioned last week, it is possible using point by point data to look at start and end of set statistics, and to work out both whether there are different dynamics during these periods, and also whether some players are stronger or weaker than others.  To clarify the start and end of set periods further, I took the start of the set to be the opening two service and return games for each player (so up to 2-2, 3-1 or 4-0) whilst the end of the set is any game after at least one player has reached four games in the set.

Looking at the top 100 men, on average they broke serve 20.3% of the time across all surfaces from January 2014 to January 2015.  This is very consistent with the 21.4% that they broke serve in early games in sets, and this was very slightly lower at 21.0% in late games.  The immediate conclusion to draw is that there is only a little impact that the phase of the set has on the service break percentage.

Assessing the individual player statistics, using players with at least 20 main draw matches in the 2014-2015 season, there was only a maximum 6.31% deviation from a player’s mean hold percentage in early games of the set.  This is pretty interesting, as it shows that players aren’t hugely better or worse at this stage and is consistent with the maximum 6.34% that players had for holding serve, discussed in last week’s article.

The best three players (compared to mean hold percentage) in early games of a set were as follows:-

  1. Mikhail Kukushkin +5.75%
  2. Radek Stepanek +5.27%
  3. Jiri Vesely +4.92%

 The worst three players (compared to mean hold percentage) in early games of a set were as follows:-

  1.  Sam Querrey -6.31%
  2. Lleyton Hewitt -5.25%
  3. Adrian Mannarino -4.20%

Mikhail Kukushkin has now been identified as the leader for holding serve (compared to his mean hold percentage) and breaking serve (compared to his mean break percentage) in early games of the set so it is clear that the Kazakh is very strong at this stage.  Trading his matches just got much easier!

The deviation in late games in the set was quite similar, with a 6.72% deviation the maximum figure.

The best three players (compared to mean hold percentage) in late games of a set were as follows:-

  1. Adrian Mannarino +5.29%
  2. Marinko Matosevic +5.04%
  3. Andreas Seppi +5.02%

 The worst three players (compared to mean hold percentage) in late games of a set were as follows:-

  1.  Richard Gasquet -6.72%
  2. Paolo Lorenzi -6.71%
  3. Jurgen Melzer -4.48%

 Adrian Mannarino is highlighted an interesting trading prospect – much better on return in late games of the set than at the start, so it would seem that the Frenchman is a slow starter in sets.  Richard Gasquet’s return stats late in sets are probably familiar to some long-term bettors and traders, who have probably highlighted him as a choker, although it didn’t stop him breaking Stan Wawrinka late in their Wimbledon quarter-final yesterday to qualify for the semi-final tomorrow!

 Hopefully this gives you some ideas of trading angles in tennis and how statistics can throw up some nice entry points into the market.

Category: Tennis, Trading strategies

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