ATP Tour Finals Day Eight: Not much to split Tsitsipas and Thiem

Austrian Tennis Player Dominic Thiem
Dominic Thiem is a marginal market favourite for the ATP Tour Finals tonight...

Sunday's final brings the curtain down on the 2019 main tour season and with a rather unlikely final taking place, Dan Weston discusses the match-up...

"A look at their indoor numbers this year suggests Tsitsipas does have a slight edge, winning 3.7% more service points and just 0.2% fewer return points, although the hold/break data does have a bit of a different complexion."

Outright pick Tsitsipas into the final

An ATP Tour Finals full of surprises continued on Saturday afternoon with Stefanos Tsitsipas getting past Roger Federer in straight sets, and getting our 17/118.0 outright pick into the final.

It's been a strange year for our outrights with not much success for the majority of the campaign but then in consecutive weeks we managed this plus a 66/1 each-way on Denis Shapovalov in Paris with the Canadian making the final.

I guess this is a natural consequence of recommending players at reasonably large prices most weeks - variance will be a major factor - but it's certainly pleasing to end the year on a high note. Given what I'm about to write about today's final between Tsitsipas and Dominic Thiem, if you took the pre-tournament advice about the Greek man, it's completely your call as to whether you look to hedge or whether to hold your position.

Very slight value on Tsitsipas at market prices

Today's final is fascinating with Thiem a marginal 10/111.88 market favourite and I'm not convinced by this line. However, there isn't enough edge on Tsitsipas at the current 11/102.12 to be viable pre-match value either - I'd want in excess of 5/42.24 on him to be heading into value territory, although my model made him a very thin 20/211.94 favourite.

It's possible that Tsitsipas will drift 6+ ticks in the run-up to the match, but unlikely, so the market doesn't look like it's got this one horrendously wrong. The duo have split their last two meetings (the only two where both were ranked inside the top 10) with their last clash being in Beijing at the start of October, where Thiem won from a similar starting price to today. Tsitsipas took their match in Canada in August.

Stats illustrate the duo are closely matched

In fact, they've shared their last four meetings with Tsitsipas' triumphs coming in straight sets but Thiem dropping a set en route to his two wins and a look at their indoor numbers this year suggests Tsitsipas does have a slight edge, winning 3.7% more service points and just 0.2% fewer return points, although the hold/break data does have a bit of a different complexion.

With that, Tstisipas has held 2% more but broken 3.3% less and that's a nod to the dramatic overperformance from Thiem on break points on return. A player winning 35% of return points on a surface across a season would be expected to convert around 38% of break point chances on return, yet Thiem is running at 49%.

This gives a big explanation as to Thiem's dramatic upturn in fortunes indoors this year and I think that's unsustainable - he could be over-rated by the markets on hard court early next year, and potentially indoors during this stage of next season as well.

What these numbers do indicate though, is that the match should be pretty tight and competitive, with both players having shown a relatively similar level over the season indoors. We can quibble about a percentage point here and there but with the market finding it quite tough to split the duo, it's not made a horrendous mistake, as I said earlier.

Thanks for following in 2019

As this is the last match of the 2019 ATP Tour season, all that really remains for me to say to all of you who read this column regularly is thank you so much for following these previews throughout the year and for the kind messages I've had on Twitter - I'm off for a short break during the off-season to recharge my batteries for an assault on the 2020 season!

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Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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