Recent form suggests Medvedev can win here, writes Jack Houghton, but a longer-term view is the value call...
"This one will be keenly contested, and should go long..."
A closely-contested final
Previewing this Australian Open, I wrote that "the top of the men's game has not been this compressed for two decades".
Underlining this fact, the market for Sunday's final sees little between Novak Djokovic (1.9420/21) and Daniil Medvedev (2.0421/20).
Those odds look a little tight to me. According to my Elo ratings, Djokovic should be shorter, at around 1.608/13.
Recency versus the long term
But then Elo ratings take a longer-term view of tennis form, tending to underplay recent matches. Generally, this is of benefit: most punters would immediately improve their profitability if they removed their recency bias, recognising that short-term factors are rarely as significant as we think.
As previewed, though, we don't live in general times. Medvedev's recent form - which sees him on a 20-match winning streak, where (bar the injured Federer) he has beaten all the other top-10 players, and where his march to the Melbourne final has contrasted with a more halting effort from Djokovic - will see him claim the third spot in the world rankings if he wins the title.
It's worth keeping in mind that Medvedev has yet to win a major, though, and Djokovic's experience in playing and winning finals must go some way to redressing the seeming imbalance in recent form.
For me, then, Djokovic is the value in the outright, and this value is magnified in the side markets, although the limited head-to-head record of the two players (they've only played seven times) means we need to be cautious.
To date, head-to-head, the pair have used 80% of the sets available to them, suggesting that four sets is most likely here.
That figure is skewed, however, by the pair's first encounter, when Medvedev retired injured, and November's Tour Finals, where Medvedev drubbed a Djokovic who grossly underperformed in a round-robin match where he'd already qualified for the knock-out stage.
This has every chance, then of going long. Backing Five Sets at 3.309/4 is the value call.
With this in mind, supporting Djokovic to win 3-2 at around 6.205/1 makes sense. Medvedev's best chance of converting his recent form into a grand-slam win is to finish this early. The longer the match goes on, the more Djokovic's savviness in high-pressured finals will become a factor.
Odds of around 1.705/7 that the pair will play more than +41.5 games look value. Using a percentage-of-available-games measure, the pair use an average of 59% of the available games. That suggests an over/under midpoint of +38.5 games. However, again, that figure is skewed: their three meetings prior to that November match all saw hefty game counts.
This one will be keenly contested, and should go long.
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