Clay courts – When it’s good to see red!

It’s the first week of the French Open. It’s a tournament that is played on distinctive red clay, and if you want to bet or trade on this seriously, then it’s important to understand the significance of the surface at this venue.

In-clay trading

Research by the ATP showed that the average length of a point on the grass of Wimbledon was just 2.7 seconds versus 8.2 seconds on Clay, points finish quickly at Wimbledon but take nearly three times as long at Roland Garros. To understand why this is the case, we need to examine the return of serve.

Getting a good return from Clay

In the men’s game, points won on return reached around 40% on a clay surface, but only 34.7% on grass. Basically, it’s harder to return a serve on grass, as a good server is quite likely to win a point. For the women’s game, things are less obvious, Clay sees a 46.4% return on serve, versus 42% on grass. So there is still a bias, but not so much.

However, the higher return percentage for women is the significant factor here. This makes it easier for women players to break serve and that will create much more variability in terms of volatility, which is exactly what a trader wants. So, if you want to open a position to trade out at the French Open, a competitive women’s match would appear to fit the bill.

Comebacks on clay

It’s also more likely on this surface, that a favourite who loses the first set stands a better chance of coming back into the match. If you dig into the stats of the four grand slams you also see that if the favourite wins the first set at the French Open, you get the highest percentage chance of the outsider leading at some point in the rest of the match. It’s still quite a small percentage at 30%, but it’s still a variation generated by the clay.

Figuring out what a competitive match is, is easy; just look at the odds. As the starting price of the favourite approaches 2.0 the match is, obviously more competitive. Because there are only two outcomes on Tennis then the other player must also be near, but slightly over, 2.0 indicating the market can’t split them. More competitive matches produce a significantly better chance of trading out for a profit as the result will swing significantly as each player battles it out for those crucial points.

How profitable and how often?

To give you some comparison, I look at some historic results to pull out some key statistics. Laying a player a 1.50 will allow you to cash out at odds of 3.00 48% of the time, netting a £5 profit in the process. If you lay a player at 1.20 you will only be able to trade out for a profit 50% of the time by trading out at 1.50 for just a £2 gain, much less profitable.

Of course, knowing the odds to get in and out at is nice but how do you achieve this? Bet Angel contains a useful tool called ‘Tennis Trader’.

Point this neat tool at the market and it will project forward the score and odds to allow you to understand what needs to happen in a market to reach your target odds. From there you can watch the match and decide if will play out that way and trade appropriately. Of course, anything can and will happen in a Tennis match, but understanding what impact that is going to have is useful knowledge when trading.

So the red clay of the French open can herald some good trading fodder, maybe they should paint it green?

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