The men's singles final at the Australian Open brings the first Grand Slam of 2019 to a conclusion. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, gives his views on what is most neutrals dream final...
"Djokovic has a thin edge on serve - around a 2-3% advantage based on hold percentages - both in the last six months, and the last 12, on hard court, while both players have extremely similar return data."
Osaka hits hat-trick to round off tournament
In what has been a pretty successful tournament from a pre-match betting perspective, Naomi Osaka hit a hat-trick for us with a final set victory over Petra Kvitova as a slight underdog in the women's final. It could have been much more straightforward for Osaka, had she converted three Championship points in set two, but ultimately this mattered not, with the Japanese talent bagging us three recommendation wins from her last four matches here in Melbourne.
Djokovic a justifiable slight favourite
However, this is where the tournament ends for pre-match recommendations, with my model agreeing with the market prices between Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal for the final of the men's tournament.
Djokovic has a thin edge on serve - around a 2-3% advantage based on hold percentages - both in the last six months, and the last 12 months, on hard court, while both players have extremely similar return data. Given this, my model has Djokovic at [1.76], almost identical to the [1.79] available on the Exchange at the time of writing.
In short, these few ticks aren't nearly enough to warrant actionable value - I'd want in the region of [1.90] to consider the world number one decent recommendation value for this - so unfortunately, at least from a pre-match point of view, this match looks worth leaving alone.
Nadal with plenty to find based on old head to head data
If I was forced to bet at prices, I think I would be happier siding with the Serb, Djokovic, who has won eight of their last ten head to head meetings, and leads the overall head to head count 27-25. On clay, it's 11-7 to Nadal, meaning that away from the dirt, Djokovic has won 20 of their 34 meetings.
Analysing their previous meetings on hard court, Djokovic has an even clearer statistical edge - winning around 66% of service points to Nadal's 59%, and Nadal has had issues holding serve in general against Djokovic, doing so merely at around the 70% mark. For Nadal to lift the trophy tomorrow, it would take a considerable upgrade on those service metrics.
In truth, however, it's difficult to give much weight to their head to head record. While Djokovic does have a decent edge away from clay, they've only met three times in since May 2016, and on two of the three occasions, Nadal was a heavy favourite on his preferred clay court. The only time they've met since then away from clay was in the Wimbledon semi-finals last year, where Djokovic won a dramatic fifth set as a heavy favourite around the [1.40] mark.
Overall, then, I do feel that giving this a swerve pre-match, and banking our profits from the tournament, is a smart play, and after the men's tour has a seven-day break, I'll be returning in a week's time to discuss the upcoming ATP events following next weekend's Davis Cup matches.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
Dan's Aussie Open P/L
Dan's Aussie Open P/L
Staked: 19 pts
Returned: 21.55 pts
P/L: +2.55 pts
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