Daniel Weston returns to the Betting 360 podcast this week. He’s a tennis betting expert who runs Tennis Ratings and produces a lot of stats and analysis that can help punters. He is also an expert contributor to the Pinnacle website.
[powerpress] Punting Insights:
- How to approach betting on the unique grass court surface
- Why big servers often under-perform in Grand Slams
- Why there tends to be more upsets in the Women’s game
- Early value opportunities in the Men’s and Women’s tourneys
- Some big name players that are well under the odds
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- Dan Weston
Get the Transcript:
[reveal heading=”**Click Here to Read the Transcript**” id=”id1″] David Duffield: G’day Dan and welcome back to the show. I just want to get your take on grass court betting and, of course, Wimbledon. Grass is a pretty unique surface, so what’s your approach in looking at value bets when it comes to the grass court season? Daniel Weston: Grass is a completely different surface to the other three surfaces in the ATP tour, which are clay, hard court, or indoor hard. Grass is probably the closest to indoor hard in terms of the court speed. Grass being the fastest surface on tour, indoor hard being the second fastest, hard being the third fastest, and clay somewhat fourth. It kind of brings some different tools to the part of the players. What they need to be good at. With grass, serve-volley game is a predominant tool, whereas on clay it’s more focused towards base-liners. You’ve got a player like Nicolas Mahut who’s got a serve and volley game who’s very effective on grass. He’ll be a dangerous player in the draw for a seeded player. Could cause an upset, for example. The fastest surface does make for very different conditions. Obviously the big servers are rewarded, they get a lot of big points on their serves, a lot of aces, a lot of unreturnable serves. Looking at the stats on grass on the ATP tour, 82.4% of service games were held in 2013. That’s a quite a bit up from the 78.6% all surface figure. That actually drops to the 75s for clay. You can see that grass is about 7% higher service hold than clay, which obviously has a slower speed and the biggest discrepancy between the two. Wimbledon actually, conditions have been on the fast side of average in the last couple of years. In 2013, 83.7% of surface games were held, and 83% in 2012. Conditions looking to likely be quite fast. Weather’s been good in England in the last few weeks as well. Very little rain. The courts will probably be quite dry. I don’t see that changing in terms of the conditions this year. David Duffield: In the past you’ve mentioned that at Grand Slam events, the big servers can under perform? How do you marry that up against the fact that having a decent serve on grass can be such a bonus? Daniel Weston: Well, it’s a tough one. I think I still stand correct that a big server hasn’t made past their quarterfinals, or… maybe it’s one if you count Janowicz at Wimbledon last year, in recent memory. I don’t see that changing. The fact that it’s a very fast surface with very few service breaks means that the big servers will actually have more variance in their matches, because they’re going to be playing a lot of tie breaks. They’re going to be playing a lot of one break sets. Those kind of sets are determined on one or two key points a lot of the time. The variance for those guys is really high. You can see someone like John Isner losing like a 6-4, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 kind of match, where there’s really few breaks but he’s just on the wrong end of a couple of key points. Actually, he does play the key points quite well, but that was just an example that I was using. But then by the same token, you’ve got Ivo Karlovic, who could cause an upset, take sets off bigger name players, because they’re not going to drop their serves as much on other servers as well. So, looking at a player like Karlovic against a top seed on the handicap betting would probably be quite a good proposition. He’s actually got a really good record as an underdog of covering set in-game handicaps. That could be… say he’s playing a Top 8 player. He’s going to be a heavy underdog, but you could back him, plus like 2.5 sets or something to try and nick a set off of a high-level player when he’s a heavy underdog. The surface means for the big servers that they won’t break barely at all as well. If we look at the statistics for John Isner on grass in the last three years, he’s quite similar with the likes of Lopez and Karlovic on grass in these conditions. Looking at Isner, he’s won 17 out of 22 on grass in the last 3 years, which is highly impressive and better than his overall full surface average. He’s held an incredible 95.3% of the time. But he’s only broken 11.9% of the time. His breaking of opponents is as consistently low as for other surfaces. You can say that he’s going to benefit from a lot of free points, because obviously his service hold is ridiculously high. He’s not going to break his opponents much either, so he’s going to face a lot of tight sets. That’s where it’s going to be symptomatic with the likes of Lopez, Raonic, Karlovic, all the big servers on grass. The chances of them playing a set where it’s more than one break is absolutely minuscule. Another angle I’ve been looking at recently is William Hill, a UK bookmaker. You can’t get a lot of money on them and they will restrict you quite quickly. But, there’s a bet that they offer, which is unique. It’s no service breaks in the first set. They offer some crazy odds on that, they’ve really made some big mistakes. I managed to get 5/1 on Querrey-Edmund the other day as no breaks in the first set. I think there was only 1 break point in the first set, which got saved, and that was a good winner. Looking at Isner in the stats as well is really interesting. He’s won 22 out of 25 tie-breaks on grass in the last 3 years, which does show he has the capability of winning tight matches. However, playing 4-5 sets on a regular basis is going to screw him physically, and that’s going to be a big problem. We’ve seen with Murray at the French Open how two 5-set matches in the space of 3 or 4 days ruined any chance that he had against Nadal in the semi-final. Then, coming to Queens last week, he underperformed at Queens. It had a big, lasting effect on his physical condition. David Duffield: With that, I can understand why long rallies on clay and long matches can really take it out of you, but is that still the case on grass? I would’ve thought with some of the big boys the points are so short that it might not be as taxing on the body? Daniel Weston: The points are quicker, but it’s a hard surface as well. It’s harder on joints than it is on, for example, clay. I’ve done some research recently and clay had the lowest percentage of retirements out of any surface, and that follows with that. The softer surface is going to be easier on the joints. It’s still going to be 5 sets, still going to be playing long matches. One other thing with Wimbledon as opposed to US Open. US Open, I think it had tie-breaks in the fifth set, whereas Wimbledon never does. That’s something that’s important to know as well. Also, I do believe, I’m 99% sure, that the men’s qualifying final round at Wimbledon is best of 5 sets as well, as opposed to other slams, which is best of 3. That potentially could fatigue qualifiers as well for their first round matches. That’s something that’s worth knowing for sure. David Duffield: Certainly. It’s why you’ve got a heavy stats-based approach, but you’ve also got to allow for all the changing variables. Daniel Weston: Definitely. Back testing the stats for 5 sets was something I was really keen to do. And, at the recent French Open, players who won a previous 5-set match in their previous round had a very poor win rate in their next round. Murray was the last who was done and dusted by the semi-final. If you can oppose them pretty much full-stop, then that’s going to be a good strategy as long as the market hasn’t taken into consideration which is kind of happening more now. I kind of regret writing about it sometimes. David Duffield: Fair enough. Sometimes you give away your trade secrets. But, on the men’s side of the draw, the form really holds up and the elite players dominate. I think in the last 10 years there have only been a couple of guys outside the Top 5 that have made the final, and only 4 guys in total who’ve actually won the tournament. Do you expect the same this year? Daniel Weston: I can’t see it being any different, to be honest with you. As you say, it’s a very favorite-dominant event. If I recall correctly, Wimbledon also has the highest percentage of favorites winning matches compared to other slams as well. Last year was a real big anomaly there, but on the whole over a long period of time, that does hold true. I can’t see that changing. Federer has got the best record at Wimbledon. I think he’s won 68 out of 75 matches, and 6 out of the last 10 events. But, I have real doubts about him in a 5-set format against … he’s got no problem against the lower-rank players or players who are sort of around that Top 10 area. But, as soon as he ends up playing an elite player, even someone like David Ferrer he could struggle with. David Ferrer could make an early set against him in a long match. Federer is quite vulnerable, physically, in a 5-set match. Looking at some underdogs, it’s hard really to recommend. Someone like Nishikori, but then, he’s physically not great in a 5-set, so you could never really look at betting on him as a future outright for the tournament, whether it be trading it or backing his opponent in later matches or something like that as a hedging tool. You couldn’t do it. It’s difficult. You’ve got a few players who are dangerous on grass. They could take sets of off players like Lopez, Mahut, there’s a few others. Maybe even Bernard Tomic as well. It’s really difficult to see a player who’s outside the top few in the world making a big impact here. Really difficult. David Duffield: So, amongst the big boys, Djokovicis around $2.80 at the moment. At that price would you say that’s a back or a lay? Daniel Weston: I’d say that’s fair. I’d say that’s neither. You’ve got to massively respect him on grass. Slam-wise though, he hasn’t really convinced me recently, but he’s going to be the main threat and he’s justifiably favorite. The other players who have got comparable stats to him on grass are Federer and Murray. But obviously they’ve got their respective doubts over both. Federer, like I said, the 5-set issue. Murray with his general fitness, whether he’s playing as well now as he did last year. Big question mark. I think Djokovic is a reasonable favorite. I don’t think that he’s bad value or good value really, I think that is what he is. I think that that’s very justified. Players I am looking to take on are probably Nadal and Wawrinka in individual matches. David Duffield: Why do you want to take on Nadal? Daniel Weston: Because his grass record’s really poor recently. I’m just going to bring up his stats now. David Duffield: While you do that, I think he’s lost at 100-1 on the last couple years? Daniel Weston: Yeah, he’s lost to 100-1 in each of the last two years. And he also lost to Phillip Kohlschreiber in Halle in a warm-up event in 2012 as well at long odds-on. Then obviously, I think he lost to Dustin Brown in Halle as well. I don’t think he maybe put his best efforts in at that match particularly. It just goes to show that he’s vulnerable. Looking at his stats, in the last 3 years, he’s actually got a lower percentage win rate than John Isner. So he’s 63% win rate, 10 wins from 16 matches. He’s held 84.6% of the time. Broken 22.4%, and that’s not elite stats by any means. For me, he’s very vulnerable on grass. Again, that might come down to the fact that he’s got long-standing joint problems and the surface isn’t great for him either in that respect. Looking at his recent history, his 6 defeats all came when he was favorite as well. So actually, in those last 3 years, every single match on grass he’s played, he’s been favorite for. One match where he was like 3 to 1 on. Djokovic when he was slight favorite, about 8 to 11. Kohlschreiber when he was 1 to 7. Russell, 1 to 100. Another 1 to 100. And Brown, 1 to 5. So, he’s got a big history for losing as heavy favorite. David Duffield: What about Andy Murray, then? You mentioned the injury problems, and he’s also changed coaches. At around the $5 mark I think he’s second favorite. Would you want to be backing or laying? Daniel Weston: I think that that really comes down to his draw and seeding. I think that it’s impossible to say until that point. I think if he’s seeded fourth, I don’t know how likely that is, personally I think he should be seeded above Wawrinka but whether that would drop Stan two spots down, I don’t know. I think that’s a good possibility, for backing him as a future if he can get to the third or fourth seed so that he doesn’t have to face Nadal or Djokovic until the semi-final as opposed to potentially in the quarter-final. I think a lot depends on the draw for Murray. That’s a big thing for him. The other important thing is to get through those first couple of matches without dropping a set, or more than one set. If you’re looking at his recent grass court activity, the last 3 years, In 2011, in the first round and in the second round he was 1 to 100 and 1 to 50 in those first two rounds. Second year in 2012, he faced Davydenko and Karlovic. Davydenko was 20/ 1 to win. Dropped one set against Karlovic. And last year he played Becker and Lu, was 100 to 1 on as well, both matches. What I’m trying to say is that you take very little risk in that price dropping by waiting for them opening two rounds. So you might as well see how he’s playing in those first two rounds. If he’s winning comfortably, then that would be the time to back him as opposed to now, before a draw, before those first two matches. David Duffield: On to the women’s tournament, then. Do you want to start by explaining why there can be more upsets at Wimbledon for the women? Daniel Weston: There’s obviously 3 sets as opposed to 5. That’s a big difference for me. Having to win 2 out of 3 instead of 3 out of 5 is a completely different proposition. We’ve seen in men’s matches, in slams forever, the underdog going 2 sets up and losing. Well, in the women’s match, that’s done and dusted. They’ve won. That’s why there’s more shocks in women’s tennis. And obviously the format in women’s tennis is exactly the same as the general tour events week in and week out. That’s the main reason why. You can compare it to snooker match. A general tour event might be best of 9 frames, first to 5. But then in the Crucible, they have crazy matches where it’s like first to 20 or something like that. That gives a better player time to get into a rhythm, time to call back a potential shock early deficit. That’s the reason why the women’s has more shocks than the men’s. I actually think that the bookmakers price up the women’s matches quite defensively and probably offer a little bit more value for underdogs than what they do in the men’s matches. David Duffield: On the women’s side of it, Serena’s I think around $2.50 at the moment. She’s won 3 of the last 5. Do you think she’s anywhere near her best? Actually she probably can’t be at her best. Daniel Weston: She’s not. David Duffield: How far is the gap between her and the rest? Daniel Weston: First of all, across all surfaces and particularly on clay, it’s gigantic. It’s huge. Like, 20% difference in combined hold and break percentages between her and the next best. It’s stratospheric. However, her stats have declined in 2014. Of that there is absolutely no doubt. If you compare 2013 to 2014, in 2013 she lost 4 matches all year. She held 83.5% and broke her opponents 53.4%. In 2014 so far, that 83.5% has dropped to 81%. And that 53.4% has dropped to 47.2%. You can see that’s dropped combined hold / break about 6-7% between 2013 and 2014. Already she’s lost 4 matches in 2014 in less than half the year, compared to 4 matches she lost the whole of 2013. She’s definitely not as imperious as what she was last year. Is she still the player to beat? Absolutely. No doubt about it. But, her grass court stats are a lot closer to the rest than on other surfaces. Looking at her grass court record in the last two years, her combined hold / break percentage is 124.9%, whereas you’ve got someone like Li Na, who is 119.3%. That’s a lot closer than the 20% differences plus she has on other surfaces. Also, Sharapova and Kerber also have fairly similar 5-6-7% deficits on grass as well. Azarenka actually has better stats, albeit from quite a small sample. But with Azarenka you don’t know how fit she is. She lost to Giorgi yesterday. She’s not fit right now at all. She’s going to be one player who’s really going to need to get some rhythm in the first couple of rounds before you can really assess how she might play at Wimbledon this year. There’s definitely a much smaller gap between Williams and the rest on grass as there is on other surfaces. David Duffield: And we are chatting before seedings and, obviously, the draw is known. What overall suggestions would you have if people are interested in having a bet right now or maybe following a player for the first couple of rounds and seeing how they’re going? Is there a certain player you’d like to be on, or even is there one that you’d take on? Daniel Weston: Looking at the odds now, I’m just trying to get the latest ones up on the laptop right now. I like Kerber at 100/1. Before her draw. I really like that price. That makes her a bigger price than Lisicki, Stevens, Venus Williams, Ivanovic. I actually think that she’s better on grass than any other player. The 100/1 is actually a standout price for Sportingbet right now. She’s 50/1 everywhere else, and I think if you can get her on that 100/1, that is a good price on Kerber pre-draw. You can look at her stats… prior to this season’s grass, she was 11 and 4 on a surface, holding a really impressive 78.3% of the time. Actually it’s fourth highest out of the Top 20 in the WTA, behind Williams, Azarenka, and Maria Sharapova. She’s broken her opponents 40.1% of the time, which is also well inside the Top 10. Combined break / hold of 118.4%. That ranks her pretty similar to the Sharapova and Li. And I really like Kerber as a 100-1 outsider. If you get on that 100.1 with Sportingbet that looks like a good price to me. David Duffield: So if people do want more information on the service that you offer. They may have heard the podcast earlier in the year around the Australian Open time. How can people get more information about your site and your service? Daniel Weston: What I do, on the website I have daily previews for the matches. That’s absolutely free for anybody to look at. I’ll write some trading previews, I’ll give my thoughts on a few matches. I specialize in game trading and that’s something that I write about a lot. But, I also give my opinion on which players I think will win. I put a lot of stats up as well so that people can make their own judgments. I post stats of the day up as well. All this is free. I’ll say like, John Isner has covered over 9.5 games in X out of Y matches, but he’s available at 1.6 today. To cover that again, and that would be like a value proposition. All of that is absolutely free of charge for any visitor. They can come have a look at that any time. Feedback on that’s always welcome. I also offer some services as well. I’ve got the daily spreadsheets, which has projected holds for each player, really detailed stats on service holds, service breaks, how often players lose break leads, how often players regain break leads, how often they win / lose break points, how good they are in that situation. Vital notes, like injury notes on each player for that game. Head-to-head records, et cetera. I also have a model price for each match as well. I price a match myself and then compare it to the market prices. That allows you to see how much value there might be on a player pre-match. I look from a betting or trading perspective. I’m also introducing a new product very soon, which is going to hopefully be of great interest for those people who like pre-match betting in tennis. I personally feel that the most value in tennis comes from backing players on the handicap, because the bookmaker tends to derive their odds from starting prices as opposed to player tendencies to cover handicaps. I think I mentioned earlier in the podcast about Karlovic. He’s quite good at covering handicaps as underdogs. So is Isner actually as well. When they’re priced like 5/1 underdog or bigger, they’ve got good records of keeping matches close at least. What this new product focuses on, it’s going to be a database of how often players cover handicaps. We’re looking at various game handicap lines, various set handicap lines, correct scores, over / under 9.5 games in the first set, et cetera. All of this is going to be filtered by a price range as well, so you can see how players’ tendencies change based on starting prices as well. For example, you’ve got some players who are really good at covering handicap lines when they’re underdogs, but not so good when they’re favorites, for example. That’s what the new product’s going to focus on. Hoping that’s going to be released really soon, before Wimbledon. If not it’ll definitely go out by the first of July. If anyone’s interested in that, I would definitely recommend keeping an eye on the website and joining up the mailing list as well because I’ll e-mail everyone as soon as that’s released. David Duffield: Sounds great. We’ll make sure we link out to that in the show notes. Thanks for joining us again, Dan. Wimbledon snuck up on us in a little way down here. There’s just that much sport going on, but everyone’s looking forward to it. Really appreciate your time and sharing your information today. Daniel Weston: Definitely. Cheers Dave, thank you. David Duffield: Thank you. [reveal]
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