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12 Sep 2015

US Open Men’s Final: Tie-break likely and Federer can pinch it

Before this year’s Wimbledon final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, I wrote that there was so little between the two – statistically speaking – that they should be the same odds to go on to secure the title.

The market for that final, though, viewed Djokovic as the slight favourite, making Federer, I argued, the value. That rationale might have been sound: a losing bet isn’t necessarily a bad bet.

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There is a line of thinking, though, which says that the head-to-head statistics are all-well-and-good, but that when it comes to the very biggest occasions, it is Djokovic who, in recent years, plays better.

And it’s certainly difficult to discount those last two Wimbledon finals. Djokovic winning relatively comfortably – on a surface and at a venue where Federer has had his best moments – should tell us that Federer might be able to dispatch lesser players with the same ease of old, but that he is no longer the number one.

There are holes in that thinking too, though. For all that we might emphasise the grand slams in tennis, it’s not as if players do not try to win other tournaments, and if you examine the record of the two players in all of their matches, there is little to separate them. Both come into this final having played brilliantly – Federer perhaps more so – and, despite the caveats that surround the match which I detailed when tipping Federer for the US Open two weeks’ ago, it’s worth remembering that Djokovic got thumped when the two last met in Cincinnati.

Although I’ve closed-out my pre-tournament bet on Federer to guarantee a profit, I wouldn’t necessarily advise others to do the same, and if betting for the first time in the final, Federer at 2.20 looks better value to me than Djokovic at 1.82.

Most Aces
To date, head-to-head, the pair has averaged a combined ace total approaching 14 a match. Federer has served more on 30 occasions (73%), to Djokovic’s six (15%), with five matches ending in a tie. All this tells us that Federer should be around the 1.37 mark to serve most aces. When considering, though, that on hard courts in recent years, Djokovic has been much closer to Federer in terms of the ace count, this isn’t a market I’d be getting heavily involved with unless Federer’s odds drifted beyond the 1.50-mark.

Tie Break
In a total of 120 sets, these two have played 22 tie-breaks, one every five-and-a-half sets played. Assuming they play four or five sets in the final, that translates to odds of around 1.36 that we’ll see a tie-break in Sunday’s final, and 3.75 that we won’t.
With three tie-breaks in their last six sets, though, there’s an argument to say that anything around 1.30 might represent value.

Set Betting
Of the 147 sets they’ve had available to play in their matches, they’ve used 120 of them, a whopping 82%, which – not surprisingly, given the statistics already mentioned – marks them out as producing the most competitive matches of any of the top players head-to-head. In their last five grand-slam encounters, they’ve gone to at least four sets, and it’s hard to see either player winning this quickly. Applying this to Sunday’s final, we can expect a close match which goes to four or five sets.

Despite that lingering doubt that Djokovic has the psychological edge over Federer on the big occasion, the statistics, at least, suggest that Federer is the value call. I’ll be backing him to win 3-1 (5.80) and 3-2 ([7.1]).

Recommended Bets
2-point back Federer 3-1 at 5.80 in Set Betting Market
2-point back Federer 3-2 at [7.1] in Set Betting Market

There is a line of thinking which says that the head-to-head statistics are all-well-and-good, but that when it comes to the very biggest occasions, it is Djokovic who, in recent years, plays better.

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