So you’ve had a successful Australian Open and you are looking to keep the run going between now and the French Open in a few moths time. Should be easy, right?
Betting on ATP men’s tennis throughout the year is a completely different ball game. There are a number of reasons why this is the case, so I thought I would touch on a few of them before you sink your teeth into upcoming tournaments.
BEST OF 3 SETS
The first major change. Instead of playing best of 5 sets, we are reverting back to the best of 3 sets format. What does this mean? Arguably there is a greater potential for upsets. Think back to scenarios at the Australian Open that would have been completely different -> Matt Ebden would have knocked off Mikhail Youzhny, Almagro would have beaten Ferrer and Wawrinka would have been serving at 6-2 5-1 to take out Novak Djokovic.
I know they are a bit far fetched and it wouldn’t necessarily happen that way (especially in the case of Almagro, who simply couldn’t serve it out), but it certainly highlights that if a star player is off even slightly, they can find themselves under a lot of pressure very quickly compared to at Grand Slam level.
For the most part, everyone at Grand Slams are going to give 100% all the time, because they prepare themselves to peak during the Grand Slams. As a result, this can sometimes lead to lapses throughout the long and tiring tennis season.
There are countless things I look into when considering making a selection, in a tennis match, but these few are particularly important for the middle-tier ATP 250/500 events:
1) Where did they play last and how long ago was it?
You will find on more than a few occasions, players will be backing up within 48 hours from tournament to tournament, be it due to making the final of the preceding tournament, or due to having to qualify for the next tournament. This can allow minimal time to adjust for players, and is always something to consider.
An example that springs to mind is Grigor Dimitrov earlier in the year. Dimitrov arguably peaked in Brisbane, where he made the final, going down to Andy Murray. He then backed up 46 hours later in 44 degree heat in Sydney as a $1.25-1.30 favorite vs Fabio Fognini. Ultimately, he was wiped off the court in under an hour, then followed that with a straight sets defeat to Julien Benneteau in Melbourne.
2) How many time zones have they covered in their travels and is there a significant change in weather conditions from origin to destination?
Another key issue here is jet lag. Jet lag may not necessarily cause a player to lose, but it should definitely be considered.
Obviously language barriers can be a major issue, but it is always good to follow as many tennis players on twitter as you can. For example, Marcel Granollers had tweeted prior to his first match in Australia that he was struggling to adjust to Australian conditions due to jetlag. It didn’t cost him the match against Matt Ebden, but he started incredibly slow.
Regarding the weather conditions, just do a quick good search of their previous location and next tournament. It only takes a few seconds in Google!
Li Na noted in Sydney earlier this year that she had struggled to adapt to the scorching Sydney conditions, having won in freezing conditions in China the previous week. Now I’m not saying it is the sole reason she lost to Radwanska in Sydney, but cast your mind less than a fortnight forward and Na looked mighty comfortable vs Radwanska in Melbourne.
3) What surfaces has the player been playing on?
The last but certainly not least of the key points to consider is what surface has your player been playing on? You see it year after year, that some players will try to avoid playing clay courts as much as possible, whereas others would live on the red stuff if they could.
There is always an adjustment period to consider with all players. Be it clay to grass, clay to hard, indoor hard to outdoor hard, they all play differently.
4) Qualifiers and 1st round byes
Every now and then you will hear of a miraculous upset of a qualifier or wildcard against one of the top seeds in the tournament. In the smaller tournaments, the top 4 seeds will receive a first round bye. This can be great, but it can also be risky at times. If players haven’t had time to adjust to conditions (arriving late, playing deep into the previous tournament), they could find themselves up against a solid round 1 winner, a qualifier with 4 wins under their belt, or a home town wildcard with the crowd behind them.
A sloppy first 4-6 games can be the difference when it comes to covering a large handicap.
So to some it up, a quick little checklist to do on top of your general form study, recent match stats, h2h record etc:
– check where they last played (location, temperature, time zone) compared to current tournament
– check their twitter
– check their recent court surface activity
– check out qualifying results, and info regarding wild cards.
Few little simple things that may not mean a lot, but could be the difference between the occasional win or loss. Every little bit of information counts.
NOTE: on a more personal level, I avoid the handicap +/- 4.5 at all costs. This can rely too heavily on the coin toss. If the underdog serves first, the favorite has to break serve 3 times (generally, in most situations) to cover. If the favorite serves first, they only need to break serve twice in some situations to cover the 4.5 game handicap.
All of the above are the opinions of the author and are not recommendations or advice. Bet at your own risk.
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Photo By Christopher Johnson [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons