Tennis is an ideal and uncomplicated sport to trade primarily because there are just two participants in a match, with no draw possible. So effectively, whether you back one player, or lay the other player you’re essentially doing the same thing.
Despite initially sounding simple, however, there are plenty of pitfalls which can await those who are unprepared or fail to understand the risk/reward elements of entering into trades at certain periods of the match.
With this in mind, I advocate planning a semi-flexible live betting strategy which will incorporate statistical elements of the match, as well as potential entry points based on player strengths and weaknesses.
The benefits of such an approach ensures that you have all known and relevant statistical information available in advance of the match starting, while also reducing the risk of making impulsive, irrational and results orientated decisions.
Live Tennis Trading Strategy: Focus Areas
1. Pre-Match Pricing/Value Assessment:
Is a player good, bad or neutral pre-match value? The in-play price of a tennis player tends to be derived from their pre-match price in conjunction with the current scoreline, so if a player is decent value prior to the match starting, then there is a solid chance that they will be value in-play as well.
2. Projected Hold Percentages:
These take into account the serving abilities of both players, and the return abilities of both players – where relevant. In addition, court speed should also be factored in, to provide a complete picture of whether the match-up is likely to be serve orientated or return orientated.
3. Lead Loss/Recovery Data:
Statistics in this area detail – for players leading in the match – whether a player is good as a front-runner, or struggles to see leads out. This is also important for players when losing. In this case, focus would be whether they are good or bad at recovering break leads.
Player tendencies in this area are stark. Some players play well solely on ‘their terms’, in that they don’t often have a plan B, and tend to succumb meekly when losing, whereas others will fight to the end to turn around a losing position. While this data is also driven by how good or bad a player’s serve or return game is, understanding these player tendencies are also extremely useful.
4. Match Progression:
The above lead loss/recovery data split into sets, or early/late stages of matches. Some players have a much better ability for turning around losing positions earlier in the match, when fresh, than later in the match, when tired. An insight into these areas is also extremely useful.
With this information already gathered in advance, it makes it much easier to highlight potential entry points which can be acted upon if and when the match develops in that particular direction.
Understanding & Dealing With Risk
Understanding that some situations in a match have much higher risk than others is also vital.
Several high risk areas include backing servers prior to service games starting, which has a high risk/low reward, and the disaster scenario of player retirement.
In truth, it’s difficult to completely prevent being exposed to player retirement, and it’s highly likely that every regular tennis trader has been hit hard from this particular downside at some point in the past.
There are some techniques which do allow this eventuality to be reduced, with retirements often being more predictable in certain instances.
Firstly, retirements often come at the end of the first set, or when a player falls a set and break down in the second set.
So, to counter the former spot, as an example, if you have laid the leader in the first set with a view to trading out if there is a break-back or the end of the set, and they get to a score like 5-3 40-0 (where it is virtually certain they’ll win the set), it’s worth just closing the position then, as opposed to waiting to the end of the set.
In addition, retirements usually come when a player perceives that they have little/no chance of getting back into the match, and this is often highlighted in advance from the match statistics. It’s much rarer for a player who looks competitive statistically to retire, as opposed to one who has made little impression on their opponent’s serve, and who has had few chances at key points.
With this in mind, keeping on top of the match data is critical, and much more useful than listening to commentators on TV or a stream, which is often biased and misleading.
I hope this gives readers some insight in how to approach in-play tennis strategy, and some of the riskier spots which can quickly turn the tables on an unaware trader. You might also like my post of how to use statistics when betting on Tennis.