Australian Open Final: Djokovic to dominate the side markets

Most aces, set betting and tie breaks - there's plenty of value to be found in the side markets. Jack Houghton has rifled through the stats to bring you a few of the best wagers to be had from the Nadal v Djokovic showdown.

With Djokovic and Nadal contesting the finals of the last three grand slams, we could be forgiven for thinking that men's tennis has established a new narrative which will see the world's number one and two dominate the game for years to come.

Federer is, as ever, capable of individual moments of sublimity, but otherwise continues to show evidence of a career in decline. And Murray, despite all his efforts to bridge the gap between perennial semi-finalist and grand-slam winner, seems instead to face an ever-widening chasm, with Djokovic and Nadal on one side, and him on the other.

As I've written before, though, assertions of changing narratives, of downfall and new-dominance, are rarely as neat and absolute as hyperbolic sports' writers would have us believe. Nadal and Djokovic might fight out every major final for years to come. But then they might not.

We'll see. In the meantime we are left to consider their seventh meeting of the last twelve months, and to ponder whether Nadal - who has lost each of the preceding six matches - can somehow turn round the 10-to-five advantage that Djokovic holds over him on hard courts. Unsurprisingly, Djokovic is the 1.705/7 favourite to win Sunday's final, but whilst that might look generous when looking at their recent record, better value can be found in the side markets.

Most Aces

Historically, neither player has been able to rely on their serve to deliver them too many free points. Less than three per cent of Nadal's points come from aces and, historically, Djokovic has posted a figure of around five per cent. There is some evidence, though, that Djokovic's serve is doing more of the work for him at these championships: with that number rising to nearly seven per cent at Melbourne.

To date, head-to-head, the pair have only averaged a combined ace total of around seven a match. Djokovic has served more on 17 occasions (63 per cent), to Nadal's six (22 per cent), with four matches ending in a tie. All this tells you that Djokovic should be around the 1.608/13 mark to serve most aces. However, given the evidence that Djokovic might have more to offer in this department this year, it is probably worth risking a lower price. At the time of writing this market is fairly illiquid, but any price over 1.501/2 should be considered value, and I'll be having the maximum on.

Tie Break Played

Perhaps the lack of a big first-serve explains why these two don't play many tie-breaks. In a total of 74 sets, they have only played seven tie-breaks, or one every 10 or 11 sets played. Even assuming they play four or five sets in the final, that translates to odds of around 2.6413/8 that we'll see a tie-break in Sunday's final, and 1.608/13 that we won't. At around 2.466/4 then, "No" looks enormous value, and I'll be sticking a fair bit on.

Set Betting

Despite how closely matched the two appear, they have not historically produced especially competitive matches. Of the 101 sets they've had available to play in their matches, they've only used 74 of them, or 73 per cent. Applying this to Sunday's final, we might expect to see three or four sets, but, perhaps against expectations, are unlikely to see five. As I think Djokovic has the edge, I'll be backing him to win 3-0 (4.804/1) and 3-1 (4.507/2).

In the meantime, if you haven't seen it already, check out this ballboy's catch in the Federer and Nadal semi-final.

10pts BACK Djokovic to serve most aces at any price over 1.501/2.
6pts BACK No in Tie-Break Played market at 2.466/4.
2pts BACK Djokovic to win 3-0 at 4.804/1.
2pts BACK Djokovic to win 3-1 at 4.507/2.

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