Wimbledon 2019 is just around the corner, and after several weeks of warm-up events, most players are enjoying a rest week in advance of the third Grand Slam of 2019. As always, data can help us try and profile both the tournament winner in addition to the players likely to perform well at the event, in an attempt to get an edge in the match winner markets.
Estimating odds in Wimbledon: main factors
The first area worthy of consideration when assessing any tournament is the likely conditions. On the whole, grass (66.2% of service points won across the last two years) is the quickest surface on the ATP Tour, with a 2.2% increase on the service points won percentage from hard court, and a rather large 4.1% difference between grass and clay (62.1%).
Given this, we can see that the quick pace of grass gives more assistance to serving in general, and there are several knock-on effects from this. Firstly, there are likely to be more tiebreaks (0.62 per match on grass, compared to 0.52 on hard courts and 0.41 on clay) on the surface, and given the benefit derived for serving, there is a tendency for sets to be decided either via this method or by a single break.
Particularly in best of three set matches, this makes playing key points - be they in tiebreaks, or break points in sets - vital. I’ve discussed a players ability to be ‘clutch’ in the past, and in general, it’s reasonable to assert that over the long term, it is incredibly difficult for a player to outperform tiebreak and break point expectations by a considerable margin.
Essentially, I’m suggesting that it’s important to ignore the media narrative, and assume that a player winning numerous key points in a short-term period (such as an individual tournament) is simply variance.
Uncovering potential value bets
Two players who have outperformed expectations on grass this season from a win/loss perspective are Feliciano Lopez, who has won Queen’s, and Matteo Berrettini, who took the title in Stuttgart before getting to the semi-finals in Halle last week. We can see that in both cases, they have dramatically overperformed expectations when it comes to saving break points.
Lopez has won 71.5% of service points on grass this season, but saved 84.6% of break points, while Berrettini has won 77.2% of service points and saved an incredible 88.2% of break points.
When you consider that the average ATP player saves 2.8% FEWER break-point chances than service points won percentages, it is evident that while both players have performed well on grass this season (Lopez’s combined service/return points won percentage is 103.6%, Berrettini’s 112.4%), the success of both players has been built on short-term positive variance on break points on their own serve. It is vital when assessing matches that bettors understand the effects of short-term variance and not overvalue players on this basis.
A look at previous data
Prior to Wimbledon, it is worthwhile looking at the current ATP top 10 with a view to seeing which players have exhibited the best grass court records across the last 24 months. While history in Grand Slams, as well as logic, suggests that the winner will come from the top 10, also included are some further players who have performed well on grass during this time period to the list (ATP main draw matches only):
Rather unsurprisingly, we see that Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are top of the table - showing the best grass court level across the last two years - although the out of form Marin Cilic isn’t far behind. The Croat will be looking to recapture his previous grass court level at Wimbledon in the coming weeks.
Further behind, and ahead of the pack, are Rafa Nadal and Milos Raonic. Nadal struggles on grass much more than on clay, where he’s far ahead of the field in slow or medium-paced conditions, while the Canadian, Raonic, has better data on grass compared to other surfaces.
It can also be seen that several lower-ranked players are also ranked in the top ten grass courters, with the likes of the aforementioned Berrettini, Grigor Dimitrov and Roberto Bautista-Agut all having shown a solid level on grass in recent years.
We must go back to 2002 (Lleyton Hewitt) to find a Wimbledon winner not coming from the Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray quartet, which shows the task ahead of the lower-tier contenders for the Wimbledon title. The likes of Marin Cilic, Milos Raonic and Kevin Anderson have been runners-up in recent years, but given that Djokovic and Federer are statistically still far ahead of the field on grass, they are certainly the duo to beat at SW19 in the coming weeks.
Check out our odds for the upcoming matches over at our sportsbook, and place your bets on this year's Wimbledon champion today.