Indian Wells Masters Day Eleven: Del Potro likely to struggle against Federer's serve

Swiss tennis player Roger Federer
Roger Federer has had a big advantage on serve in head to head matches...
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The Indian Wells Masters final takes place this evening, and with Roger Federer taking on Juan Martin Del Potro. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, runs the data on the match...

"Despite Del Potro winning the vast majority of his matches this year, Federer has much better data, winning 6.0% more service points and having a 2.8% edge on return. Realistically, peak Federer is much better than peak Del Potro."

Coric performance easily enough to cover the game handicap

Yesterday's two semi-finals in California were rather contrasting affairs, with Juan Martin Del Potro easing past Milos Raonic in two relatively facile sets, but Roger Federer needed to fight back from a set and break down, and a break down twice in the final set, against Borna Coric. This display from Coric ensured that he easily covered the +4.5 game handicap, which I recommended at slightly odds-against yesterday, and continues our successful event.

Market bullish following Del Potro display

With Del Potro managing to comfortably disarm the serve of Raonic last night, the markets are quite bullish on his hopes of inflicting Federer's first defeat of 2018. While Federer is still the market favourite to lift the trophy, at [1.38], this isn't far from his tournament winner odds prior to the Coric match.

Federer with huge edge based on 2018 data

If Del Potro is to defeat Federer, he will need to overcome several issues. Firstly, as mentioned, he'll need to be the first player to defeat Federer this year - the Swiss legend is 17-0 in 2018 - but it's worth noting that Del Potro's record this year has also been strong, winning 16 of his 19 matches. Despite Del Potro winning the vast majority of his matches this year, Federer has considerably better data, winning 6.0% more service points and having a 2.8% edge on return. Realistically, peak Federer is much better than peak Del Potro.

Del Potro unable to pressure Federer serve in head to head matches

The second negative for the match-up for the Argentine is Del Potro's 6-18 record in historical head to head matches. In these, the main issue for Del Potro is winning a mere 29.3% of career return points against Federer, which has led to him breaking just 10.5% of Federer's service games. With such data, it will be very difficult for Del Potro to put pressure on Federer's serve, and it wouldn't be a surprise for any sets won for Del Potro to be via the tiebreak route.

Historical matches rarely decided in straight sets

Value-wise, my model largely agreed with the market line, making Federer a [1.36] favourite, and also backed-up my assertion that Del Potro will struggle on return, giving Federer a projected hold percentage of 89.9%.

While it's worth noting that nine of their last ten matches have not been settled in straight sets, it's difficult to know how much credence we can give such a trend. If you think that it's a good marker for tonight, you can back over 2.5 sets with the Sportsbook, at the current 13/8.

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Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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