The first in a two-part beginners guide to tennis betting, written by gambling prodigy Jonathan Premachandra. Jonathan has an in-depth knowledge of sports betting, in particular tennis and cricket, and can be found on Twitter here.
A Beginners Guide to Tennis Betting
As a keen follower of the game, you may be tempted to have the odd bet every now and then just to make things more interesting. It can certainly make even some of the dullest matches more captivating and you barely need to risk much to enjoy it. The principles of tennis betting can be as simple or as complex as you choose to make them but if you really want maximize your winnings, here’s some advice on how to go about it. This can be used by anyone who follows tennis and is looking to take a bit of extra money off their bookies.
Coming into a game, unless you are just betting for the fun of it, it is obviously important that you know about the players and have been following their form coming into the match. Most betting sites give you a list of their past matches and information of their head-to-head record with basic stats on every match coming into this encounter. This is all very helpful but it is not nearly enough to call a game just based on these raw figures.
You need to have watched the previous encounters between these two players, seen how their styles match up against each other and seen how well they have actually been playing recently by watching their games in the run up to this match. Important things to pick up on vary from player to player but unforced errors, 1st serve percentages and winners hit are always crucial.
For an example of how these stats vary with each player you just need to look at the winning stats on players that rely heavily on their serve such as Isner, Roddick and Karlovic. There stats can often be misleading as they line up for a game against one of the top 7. We know that these ‘big servers’ can dispatch their opponents with ease until they play someone who is a very strong returner and has a lower rate of unforced errors like Murray or Nadal.
“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”
Past records can be very deceptive if you choose to follow them on their own, for example, take a look at the recent Federer v Murray final in Dubai. Coming into that game, Murray had a solid record against Federer in 3 set matches (8 wins vs 5 losses)
So with this lone stat, a price of 2.5 (6/4) for Murray to win another Dubai final against Federer (he beat him in the other Dubai final they met in back in 2008) looks pretty good. So surely that must mean it would be a great bet to take, right? Wrong. Murray was outplayed in straight sets inside two and a half-hours, showing nothing of the form he had used to oust Federer in the past. However, if you had been following the matches leading into this final you would have seen Federer in blistering form, while Murray, despite dispatching Djokovic in the Semi, was far from his best. His three set win against Djokovic was always going to have a draining effect on him and if you looked at the stats, you could see his first serve record was not great. The casual tennis fan rushed to bet on Murray after seeing those odds but if they had watched how Federer had dominated on his route the final, they would have known that those odds were justified (Federer was around 4/7 favourite at the start).
There are countless factors that you can look at such as a player’s abilities on a particular surface; their past records at the same tournament, their form in the last few tournaments etc. You can also factor in things like fatigue and injuries, just look at Djokovic in the ATP World Tour Finals last year, after such a successful calendar year, he was exhausted coming into the tournament. Nadal was suffering with an injury while Federer, who had taken a short break before the tournament was fresh and near his flawless best. Long story short, the bookies faltered and gave odds of 6/4 on Federer for the tournament just before the semi final stage, he then strolled past Ferrer in straights and won the final against Tsonga in a fairly comfortable 3 set victory and in doing so he helped me pay off a large chunk of my student overdraft!
These types of odds have to be spotted and you have to weigh up whether or not the bookies are making a mistake. In the case of the Dubai final, the odds were spot on as Federer took it fairly comfortably, but given the conditions of the other players and Federer’s form in the Masters, there was good money to be made on Federer at the half way stage.
Look out for the second part in the next few weeks, which will deal the more lucrative in-play betting.
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Greetings all kind followers, serfs and those who are generally indebted to TennisNiche for the huge amount of knowledge and wisdom bestowed on a weekly basis.
Jonathan over at the superb Federer blog peRFect-Tennis has kindly allowed me to post my humble musings on Federer and his occasional difficulties against the big bitters of the ATP. So without further adieu – why are you still readng? Check out my ramblings, and while you’re at it check out the blog, ’tis a fine one.
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Thrilling. Epic. Extraordinary. Jaw-Dropping. Marathon Classic. For all the adjectives lavished on the Australian Open Final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, it escaped unnoticed that net play continues to be relegated to novelty status in men’s tennis.
Forays to the net have become increasingly rare in an era where serve-volley should be put on the ICUN’s list of endangered species. Of the four semi-finalists, Andy Murray and Roger Federer could be described as competent volleyers, but neither man enjoyed much success at the net in their respective semi-final. Federer suffered from his usual paralysis against Nadal and his awful choices of net approach precluded any sort of success there. Murray fared slightly better but largely was engaged in a colossal baseline match in which net approaches featured strictly as a means of mixing up play. David Nalbandian has shown in past meetings against Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal that there is a formula for coming to the net against the prototypical modern baseliner who has the deadly combination of vicious passing shots and tireless movement around the court. First of all, Murray and Nadal both have great forehand passing shots which are arguably even more potent when they are on the run, meaning there is little safety in approaching to this side even when it seems they are dead and buried.
You might enjoy some success serve and volleying against Nadal, who stands way back for the return, but the Spaniard is capable of roasting you on the pass even from six or seven metres outside the court so it is not a regular play. Forget about frequent serve and volleys against Murray or Djokovic, both of whom have built their games around the return and their quick reactions. The backhand has proven more fruitful for net approaches – while both Nadal and Murray possess versatile two handed backhands which are formidable weapons for passing at the net, Nalbandian was able to spot a chink in the armour – when both men are stretched far to their backhand side, they tend to make frequent use of the floated backhand slice in order to give them time to retain court position after they have been dragged out wide. It is here that Nalbandian in past meetings has taken advantage by sneaking into the net and putting away what is generally a quite comfortable volley.
This does not equate to a renaissance of net play – instead, is just a singular, specific net play which has been fruitful against top players, whereas in the past just chipping the return back and surging to the net was a viable play. Furthermore, to execute it requires four things of the player in question, the combination of which is very much a rarity on today’s tour.
- The control and power of groundstrokes necessary to move the opponent around before striking hard to the backhand side and sneaking in.
- An acceptance that this tactic can only be used sparingly, and even then that a spectacular passing shot might be coming your way.
- Sound volleying technique is necessary if the ball is dipping below net height, although if the reply is a slice it will not be dipping violently. Due to the deep court positioning of many baseliners today, the drop volley has become increasingly popular and effective. Where many players fall down here is that even if a great volley is hit, the opponent may still get there so good net positioning and reactions are necessary for the second volley.
- Most importantly, the tactical knowledge to envisage this plan and the clarity of mind to execute it.
With the dust settled on Roger Federer’s drubbing of Juan Martin Del Potro at the Australian Open quarter finals and the hype mahine already working in overdrive for his semi final clash with Rafael Nadal, TennisNiche shall make use of its powerful nostalgia chip to bring the kind readers back ten years to 2002, when Fed was just a young whip with dreams of grand slam glory in his eyes.
There are few sights in tennis as dazzling as Roger Federer fully imposing his will on an opponent: at his best, he possesses an arsenal of shots superior in both variety and potency to perhaps any player to ever step on a court.
This clip shows Federer at the age of twenty, before he had reached even a grand slam quarter final. What enabled Federer to accumulate sixteen grand slams in the following ten years was not so much that he added something new to his game or improved on any one shot, but that he learnt how to utilise his many weapons and to manage his decision making.
To witness Federer before he came to full maturity is to see the raw building blocks of an all time sporting great, but still a tennis player who had not yet learnt to rein in his emotions and impulses on the court. While he is certainly a less polished product here than he is in say, 2008, he is in some ways more fun to watch for it. It is easy to forget just how rapid Federer was around the court in his youth, an explosive combiation of his raw athletic speed and graceful, efficient footwork. He was also perhaps more risky with his forehand, resulting in a ridiculous number of improbable winners from that wing. I would like to draw attention to two rallies in particular in the clip:
The first is a stupendous bit of flexibility and improvisation. Federer hits a drop shot, drawing Andre Agassi to the net, where after an exchange of five shots he punches a volley to Federer’s forehand side. The Swiss moves to the shot but the deeply struck volley is already behind him when he gets to it – where most players would desperately lunge at the ball, just hoping to get it back into play, Federer somehow manages to contort his arm behind and around the ball to hit a perfect topspin lob which Agassi does not even reach for.
The next point against Hewitt is even more perplexing. After a long rally, Federer wrong foots Hewitt with a backhand down the line. Rushed, Hewitt only has time to prepare a squash shot in reply. In a split-second Federer has recognised his opponent’s grip change and has himself edged forward, anticipating a weak reply- Hewitt obliges and floats a deep forehand slice down the line. Faced with this situation, the attacking player (Federer in this case) has three conventional options: continue to move forward to the floating ball and hit a conventional volley; stand your ground, wait for the ball to come to you and hit a drive volley; or acknowldege that your opponent has hit a deep shot by moving backwards and waiting for the ball to bounce.
Federer, of course, chooses the fourth option, the type of shot only he can pull off: he stands his ground roughly three quarters of the way up the court (traditionally known as ‘no man’s land’, being too far from the net to hit an effective volley and too far from the baseline to allow the ball to bounce and hit a groundstroke), but instead of drive volley, Federer decides to hit a sliced drop shot volley, one which leaves Hewitt totally stranded, not even running for the ball. I will not waste any more words trying to do this shot justice – just watch and marvel at the flair.
A brief look at what happened on the men’s side of the Australian Open last night:
Rafael Nadal defeated Alex Kuznetsov but announced in his press conference immediately after that he was considering pulling out of the whole tournament after an injury scare which he said caused the worst feeling he has ever had in his knee. Fortunately the Spaniard slept on the decision and then easily dispatched the world no. 167 Kuznetsov in a straightforward 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 encounter
Donald Young triumphed in a bizarre five set encounter against Peter Gojowczyk, 6-1, 6-2, 4-6, 1-6, 6-2. Gojowczyk led 2-0 in the last set before his form totally collapsed, collecting a mighty four points in the final six games. Unfortunate recipient of futile British hopes James Ward put in a mammoth effort to wrestle eleven games from Slovenian clay-merchant Blaz Kavcic.
Two exciting young talents scraped through in five sets, with Grigor Dimitrov overcoming the erratic big-hitting Jeremy Chardy 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, while the great white hope of Austrlian tennis Bernard Tomic came back from a two set deficit against notorious headcase Fernando Verdasco.
Former Australian Open semi finalist Nikolay Davydenko crashed out to Italian Flavio Cipolla. Formerly a regular of the top ten, Davydenko’s form has tailed off badly after sustaining a wrist injury in 2010, his ranking now lying way down at 52.
Meanwhile, talented shotmaker Alexander Dolgopolov won from two sets down against Greg Jones. Dolgopolov produced his usual mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly to overcome the Aussie wildcard recipient Jones 1-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-2.
Barrel-chested Argentine hero David Nalbandian was the fortunate beneficiary of a Jarkko Niemenen abdominal injury which forced the Finn to return 2-4 down in the second set, having lost the first 6-4.
Roger Federer breezed through in typical first-round fashion, defeating Alexandre Kudryavtsev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2. Sergiy Stakhovsky beat Ilia Marchenko 6-3, 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in an all-Ukranian clash.