It's the final of the Cincinnati Masters tonight, with Roger Federer taking on Novak Djokovic. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, runs the numbers to assess the value...
"Certainly, the player data this week also gives a decent advantage to Federer. He's not been broken on serve all week, winning a stunning 78.4% of points on serve, and it's fair to suggest that Federer's serve is looking as good as ever."
Cilic succumbs despite creating more chances
Last night we saw Novak Djokovic scrape past Marin Cilic, and frustratingly for those who were on Cilic at prices around [2.80], the Croat converted just three of 12 break points to succumb in three sets. Indeed, he created more chances than Djokovic, and can be chalked up as a little unfortunate not to be in the final tonight.
Federer should be fresher due to Goffin retirement
For this final, which takes place at 2100 UK time, Djokovic faces Roger Federer, in a match-up which will no doubt entice the neutral. While Djokovic needed a shade over two and a half hours to get past Cilic, Federer required just over an hour to progress past David Goffin, with the Belgian retiring due to a shoulder injury, and this lower amount of court time certainly should be viewed as a positive for Federer.
Federer with a considerable edge based on hard court data
The market is finding it hard to split the duo, with Federer currently the slight [1.84] market favourite, at the time of writing. Interestingly, my model made this line generous, making Federer a more solid favourite to be lifting the trophy this evening.
In short, Federer has a considerable edge based on hard court data, over various relevant time periods. Firstly, this year, he has won 73.0% of points on serve, and 38.4% on return (a world class 111.4% figure) with Djokovic doing so 64.3% and 41.0% respectively (105.3%), and if we extend this sample to the last 12 months, Federer still has a very decent advantage, with a 111.2% figure compared to 105.3% (again) for Djokovic.
These numbers should price Federer much shorter than the market has done, and I feel that Djokovic has been a little over-rated of late, after his Wimbledon triumph and wins against non-elite opposition in big tournaments (of his wins from the French Open onwards, he's faced just one elite player, in the shape of Rafa Nadal, at Wimbledon - and whether Nadal is elite on grass can certainly be debated).
Federer serve as good as ever
Certainly, the player data this week also gives a decent advantage to Federer. He's not been broken on serve all week, winning a stunning 78.4% of points on serve, and it's fair to suggest that even at 37 years of age, Federer's serve is looking as good as ever. Djokovic hasn't nearly impressed so much with his data here in Cincinnati, winning 63.3% of points on serve and 41.6% on return (104.9%), and this data - and his hard court data over the last year or so - is ballpark top ten level as opposed to elite-level.
Djokovic has also played 14 sets to Federer's eight this week, and Federer should be the fresher player for this final, and if you hadn't worked out my sentiments already, I feel that all the positives are with Federer here to take this when considering market prices.
Without doubt, whoever does take this will have a nice psychological edge prior to the US Open, which starts a week on Monday, and I'll be returning throughout next week to give my advance thoughts on the final Grand Slam of 2018.
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