Friday's agenda at the ATP Tour Finals brings action in the Agassi group, as players compete to join Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals. Our tennis columnist Dan Weston crunches the numbers...
Djokovic dumped out by impressive Federer
After trading odds-on for the tournament following a win in his opening match of the tournament, Novak Djokovic was dumped out by Roger Federer who impressively defeated the Serb in straight sets, winning a huge 60% of points in the match and only faced a solitary break point chance throughout.
This has had a marked impact on the outright market with the Swiss man now trading as a 2.50market favourite with our outright selection, Stefanos Tsitsipas, backed into 6.00 from triple that price pre-tournament.
Berrettini ends campaign with underdog victory
We also picked up a winner yesterday with our suspicion that Dominic Thiem was over-rated by the market following recent results rubber-stamped by a straight-sets win for Matteo Berrettini against the Austrian. Berrettini was still eliminated but performed pretty competently in his last two matches, which bodes well for the Italian in 2020.
There are numerous permutations for qualification today but the CliffNotes are that Stefanos Tsitsipas has already qualified and the odds are against Daniil Medvedev who needs a rather unlikely combination of results to make tomorrow's semi-finals. Essentially, it's pretty much between Rafa Nadal and Alexander Zverev to join Tsitsipas in the knock-out stages, and it's fair to suggest that the market has priced that in to Zverev's match today.
Nadal with statistical edge over Tsitsipas
However, we will know what Zverev needs to do after the first match this afternoon between Nadal and Tsitsipas, with Nadal priced at1.48 on the Exchange to pick up his second victory this week. Stats-wise, Nadal looks value at this price - he has an 8% edge on service/return points won combined on hard/indoor hard this year but of course, the market isn't convinced about Nadal's fitness following his abdominal injury.
In his first match this week against Zverev, which he lost easily, Nadal's service numbers were well down on his year-long average figures, but even though he needed the comeback of all comebacks to defeat Medvedev on Wednesday, his service numbers were dramatically improved and much more aligned with that season-long data. It would seem reasonable to assume that Nadal's fitness issues that he brought into the tournament were less of a problem on Wednesday, regardless of the nature of his victory.
Medvedev value despite Zverev's need to win
Following this, Medvedev faces Zverev and I'm struggling to understand this market price, except given the fact that Zverev 'needs to win'. We saw in Paris a couple of weeks back that backing players who 'needed to win' to qualify here was a route to the poor house and given that Medvedev started at shorter than 1.60 a month ago in the final of Shanghai against Zverev (which he won 6-4 6-1), it's clear that the market is defensive about his chances here, pricing him at1.90.
Whatever the scenario required for Zverev, I can't be having that. Medvedev has lost two out of two this week but I'm not fussed about that - first up was a grudge match versus Tsitsipas and then a freak loss to Nadal after he traded at 1.01 in-running. There's no real evidence that Medvedev is performing at a low level this week and across hard/indoor hard this year he has won almost 5% more combined serve/return points won than Zverev, so taking him at the current1.90 is difficult to ignore as today's recommendation.
Yesterday we benefited from the market questioning a player's motivation and over-reacting to recent 'form' and I'm looking at a similar prospect today. It's important to realise that there are very decent ranking points and financial rewards even for winning one match and Medvedev should still be pretty motivated here regardless of whether he can qualify or not.