French Open Final: Nadal faces four sets according to stats

8Jun 2013

Roland Garros

Looking to continue his record in a profitable column, Jack Houghton digs through the statistics to highlight the value in the French Open men's final side-markets. And it might not be over quite as quickly as some think...

At the start of the tournament it was hard to see beyond Nadal and Djokovic as winners, even though they were due to meet in the semi-finals. With that contest now decided - Nadal having prevailed in a four-and-a-half-hour match on Friday - it's hard to see why Nadal (1.15) won't claim his eighth title on Sunday against David Ferrer (7.80).

Those who supported Ferrer at the start of the tournament as the most likely player to come through should Federer falter now face a dilemma: hold on, or trade out? The decision taken will largely rest on their long-term approach to betting, but if anyone thinks the relative ease by which Ferrer progressed past Tsonga will put him at an advantage over a fatigued Nadal, think again. Statistically, it's hard to be certain about the effect of long semi-finals on a player's final performance (I've tried a few times, unsuccessfully, to get some kind of numerical answer), but looking at the data qualitatively, there doesn't seem to be much of a pattern. And it's worth remembering that Nadal thinks nothing of playing five- and four-hour matches back-to-back - as he did when winning the Australian Open in 2009.

Losing 19 matches in his career to Nadal, and winning just four - with only one of those wins coming in the last five years - Ferrer has it all to do in Sunday's final, and so even the generous-looking odds available on him in the Match Odds market seem short to me. And I'm not sure I want to be lumping on Nadal either, even if the promised percentage return is significantly better than one of those Icelandic banks was offering a few years ago.

It's to the side markets I go then, which have proved a lucrative battleground in recent years. I've been writing this statistical preview of the ancillary markets for the last eight men's grand-slam finals, going back to the French Open in 2011, and, out of 30 recommended bets, 13 have won, returning a profit of 12.26 points to recommended stakes. Here's hoping the success continues.

Most Aces
There is nothing between them: they struggle to serve aces on favourable surfaces, and as they meet so often on clay, and are both such tenacious returners, they really struggle to serve aces against each other. To date, head-to-head, Ferrer has served more on eight occasions (35 per cent), to Nadal's eight (35 per cent), with seven matches ending in a tie (30 per cent). At the time of writing, the market is fairly illiquid, but I would be looking to lay either player should their odds be shorter than 2.50. That way the tie will be working for me as well.

Set Betting
Of the 77 sets they've had available to play in their matches, they've used 56, or 73 per cent of them. Applying this to Sunday's final, we might expect to see three or four sets, with it slightly more likely than not that Ferrer will be able to claim at least one set of his countryman. With this in mind, I'll be backing Nadal to win 3-1 at 4.00, with a saver on Nadal winning 3-0 at 1.88.

Tie Break
In a total of 56 sets they have played, Ferrer and Nadal have contested seven tie-breaks, or one every eight sets played. Given that they are most likely to play four sets in Sunday's final, that translates to odds of 2.00 that we'll see a tie-break, and 2.00 that we won't. At around 2.30 then, "Yes" looks value, and I'll be having an interest.

Recommendations
6pt-back Nadal to win 3-1 at 4.00 in Set Betting market.
6pt-back Nadal to win 3-0 at 1.88 in Set Betting market.
3pt-back Yes at 2.30 in Tie-Break Played market.

Bet HERE

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Keywords: French Open, Final, Nadal, Ferrer

Source: Betfair

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