Murray the latest shock at the Australian Open
This year's Australian Open is destined to be memorable, although with trends and logic this week having been frequently defied by some utterly bizarre matches and results, it is far from a given that many bettors will be in front with a week of the event to play.
Sunday's shock was Andy Murray joining fellow elite member Novak Djokovic in failing to make the second week, as the Scotsman succumbed to a four-set defeat to Mischa Zverev. Arguably the strangest feature of Murray's defeat was an utter inability to put pressure on the German's serve, despite Murray possessing one of the best return games on the ATP Tour.
Indeed, having studied many thousands of matches using point by point data, I can tell readers that a heavy favourite - Murray started the match at 1.041/25 - failing to create at least break point chances against opponents with low projected hold percentages, when the opponent is trading at a low price, is extremely rare and we can definitely chalk this Murray defeat up as another which defies logic. Readers may also be interested to note that Murray was matched for £47,800 at 1.02, and over £1.3m was matched on the world number one at prices between 1.02 and 1.05.
Federer the main beneficiary of Murray's exit
The effect on the Australian Open winner market was profound - Murray was trading at around 2.001/1 prior to the match, and Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Roger Federer were the main beneficiaries of around 50% implied win percentage needing to re-distributed.
Federer is now the tournament favourite at 4.3100/30 after the Swiss legend's five-set win over Kei Nishikori this morning. This has shortened from 15.5 before the start of play on Sunday, with Wawrinka moving from 10.519/2 to 5.14/1 and Raonic shortening to third favourite at 5.79/2 from a previous 9.89/1.
Bautista-Agut can follow Simon's lead
As I mentioned yesterday, finding pre-match value in the latter stages of Grand Slams is tough, with the markets fully aware of the abilities of high-profile players. This is again the case today, but I do feel that Raonic is a little short at a current 1.241/4 on the Exchange against Roberto Bautista-Agut.
Gilles Simon managed to cover the +5.5 game handicap against the Canadian big-server in the previous round, and I like the chances of the Spaniard being able to do so tomorrow.
While it is fair to say that Raonic has won all four head to head matches, it's also worth mentioning that two were extremely tight, and five of the nine head to head sets were 7-5 or 7-6 scorelines, including four tiebreaks. Against an opponent with a strong return (Bautista-Agut has broken opponents 29.3% on hard court in the last 12 months), Raonic may not have this all his own way - certainly I'd be surprised if Raonic won sets by a large margin tomorrow.
Other matches on tomorrow's card
Two of the other matches on the card look to have the potential to have in-play swings - the first match between Dominic Thiem and David Goffin in particular. Recent matches between the two have been quite competitive and projected hold percentages are below the ATP mean. I'd be happy to let outright positions run here, with the winner facing Grigor Dimitrov or Denis Istomin in the next round.
This is also the case in the last match on the schedule, with Rafa Nadal taking a 12-2 head to head lead into his match with Gael Monfils. Certainly, the raw hold/break percentage data makes the Spaniard short at 1.444/9 but the brutal head to head must also be factored in.
I also expect Istomin's fairytale tournament to end, with Dimitrov a justified near-certainty in the markets to progress against the Uzbek.
Back Roberto Bautista-Agut +5.5 games to beat Milos Raonic at 1.865/6