Guest post by @_Noops
The final grand slam tournament is upon us, the US Open. As a fan of tennis I LOVE grand slams. The first week is always jam packed full of tennis with plenty of interesting matchups. The second week showcases the best the world has to offer competing at their most motivated. As a handicapper of tennis, grand slams are confusing. Why you ask? It’s one simple fact that all slams and no other tournaments share, it’s best of 5 sets. As a fan, this is fairly straightforward, more tennis!!! As a handicapper, it requires a full recalibration of the numbers my eyes are used to seeing. Instead of totals ranging from 18.5 to 23.5 we’ll see numbers from 28.5 to 39.5. Instead of game spreads that max out around 5.5, there will be spreads as high as 11.5, even higher. As someone who looks at lines several times a day I assure you, this is confusing. To help everyone calibrate let’s take a look at how totals and spreads perform historically in New York.
The table above shows the % of matches that go over a certain total by round since 2003. I’ve bolded and boxed the point in each round when historically a total goes over 54.6% of the time or more. Why 54.6% you ask? When betting on totals you will have to pay anywhere from -110 to -120 and maybe more. I’ve chosen -120 as my base price and to be profitable at that price I need to win 54.6% of the time or more. So when looking at totals the next 2 week I’ll be looking to bet over any number left of the boxes and looking to bet under any number right of the boxes. In general, it looks like 32 is the line of demarcation so any number over 32 should look high and any number below 32 should look low.
To be clear, these are not hard and fast rule, but good guideline as I sift through dozens and dozens of lines. Another pattern we can see is that matches get longer as the tournament advances. There is a slight step back in the semi-finals it appears, but overall look for matches to be longer as we approach the finish so look towards the overs. Now some would say longer matches would mean tighter matches, so let’s take a look at how close matches tend to be based on the round.
The chart above shows the % of matches that have a had a spread less than a certain number of games. For example, in the round of 128, 64.1% of matches had a spread less than 8.5. Said another way, a spread of +8.5 games would have covered 64.1% of the time. Unfortunately, there isn’t a good database that has historical spreads, so this is does NOT mean 64.1% of matches did cover +8.5. I would love to put that table together, but sadly the data is unavailable to me at this time.
I’ve again boxed and bolded the point in each round when historically a spread is closer than a certain number of games 54.6% of the time or more. As opposed to totals, we don’t see as much variance in how close matches are. The line of demarcation is 8 seemingly regardless of round. So any spread larger than 8, look towards the underdog and any spready smaller than 8, look towards the favorite. Again, this is a guideline and not a hard and fast rule.
Hopefully this has helped you set your expectations for how matches should play out based on the last 15 years. These numbers can be extremely helpful, but they are certainly not the end all, be all. Outside of injury & fatigue, a tennis match comes down to the head to head matchup. Looking at the names involved, how their styles line up and how they’ve played historically is of the utmost important. So be sure to do your homework and dig into the players in each match that catches your eye. Use the tables and information above to help your eyes catch the right matches.
If you’ve made it this far I’m sure you’ve had some thoughts and questions. Did a certain number not make sense to you? Did a certain number really catch your eye and has you wanting for data around that number? Did you draw your own conclusions or see any patterns I missed? Or maybe you just think I’m full of crap. Either way, please reach out to me with your comments and inquiries. Send a DM or a tweet and I will be sure to get back to you. The only way we can learn and grow is to engage other for their thoughts and perspectives whether they be positive or negative. Just please be polite. Best of luck and thanks for reading! @_Noops