Friday's action in Paris focuses on the ATP semi-finals and, with both available on Betfair Live Video, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, returns to consider who is value to make Sunday's final...
"Murray has a significant edge on return, breaking opponents 34.2% compared to Wawrinka's 26.4%, but Wawrinka enjoys an advantage on serve, holding 86.5% as opposed to Murray's 78.8%."
Semi-final action on day 13 of the French Open
Both of today's men's semi-finals are mouthwatering prospects for very differing reasons - in Andy Murray's match against Stan Wawrinka, we have a very tight match with two evenly matched players, albeit with very differing characteristics, while Dominic Thiem is a heavy underdog against Rafa Nadal, but has consistently improved his performances in their head to head series.
It's this fascinating, well-matched clash between Murray and Wawrinka which kicks off proceedings just prior to mid-day UK time, and after some market support, Wawrinka is the current [1.75] favourite on the Exchange.
Murray statistical value as underdog against Wawrinka
My model disagreed a little on this, making this match-up much closer and virtually a 'pick-em' proposition. Using 18-month clay data - required by my model due to both players not having played the ideal 15 matches on surface in the last 12 months - Murray has a significant edge on return, breaking opponents 34.2% compared to Wawrinka's 26.4%, but Wawrinka enjoys an advantage on serve, holding 86.5% as opposed to Murray's 78.8%.
Combined, this data was virtually identical with Murray's numbers coming in at 113.0% and Wawrinka at 112.9%, and this makes it very difficult to make a case for Wawrinka as a favourite at these prices. These numbers also indicate that they are both below the level of Thiem, and considerably below that of Nadal, as I'll discuss later in this preview.
With Wawrinka having similar data to Murray, but being favourite, backing Murray has to be considered as a purely statistical play.
Furthermore, given that Murray has broken opponents 39.8% in Paris in the last fortnight, it's reasonable to consider that he will be able to pressurise Wawrinka's better serve today, and it's also worth noting that Murray won in four sets against Wawrinka at this stage last year - when the Scotsman started around a 1.80 favourite.
Nadal a heavy favourite to reverse Rome defeat
In the second semi-final, expectation is on Nadal to get revenge on Thiem following the Austrian's win in Rome, and the effect of that match is clear in the current pricing, which has Nadal as a [1.24] favourite on the Exchange, compared to being [1.14] a month ago in the Italian capital.
Considering the best of five set format generally favours the 'better' player, subjectively this would seem a little bit of a mistake, but my numbers didn't indicate much value on the King of Clay, pricing him at [1.21] to progress to Sunday's final.
Thiem cannot rival Nadal's stratospheric stats
Quite simply, Nadal's stats are so much better - he's held 87.3% on clay in the last 12 months, breaking opponents 46.0% (combined 133.3%), with Thiem doing so 85.0% and 32.7% respectively (117.7%). While this 12 month clay data is Thiem's best ever, it's still considerably below Nadal's stratospheric level.
In addition to this, Thiem, with a low projected hold coupled with strong break deficit recovery data from Nadal, fits the vulnerable front-runner profile and it wouldn't be a surprise at all if he relinquished winning positions in this match.
To summarise, although I don't see much value in the pre-match prices, I expect Nadal to make Sunday's final, where the value is on the world number one, Andy Murray, to face the Spaniard.
Back Andy Murray to beat Stan Wawrinka at [2.32]
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
Dan Weston's French Open 2017 P&L
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