It's the ladies singles final on day 13 of the US Open, with Madison Keys facing her countrywoman, Sloane Stephens. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, runs the numbers for the final ladies Grand Slam match of 2017...
"Keys' serve numbers are impressive, holding at 82.1% on the surface this year, and 81.8% at this event in the last fortnight, and her overall data generally does eclipse Stephens in this tournament as well."
Keys solid favourite according to market and model
In tonight's all-American final, Madison Keys takes on Sloane Stephens for the ladies singles title at Flushing Meadows this evening, at 21:00 UK time, and it is the big-serving Keys who is the market favourite to take the trophy, trading at 1.511/2 at the time of writing.
My model also made Keys a strong favourite, pricing her up at 1.444/9 to triumph tonight, and the most obvious statistic immediately points to her projected hold percentage, with this being just below 85% tonight against an opponent who has only broken a mediocre 34.9% on hard courts this year.
Keys with magnificent serve numbers
Keys' serve numbers are impressive, holding 82.1% on the surface this year, and 81.8% at this event in the last fortnight, and her overall data generally does eclipse Stephens in this tournament as well. Stephens' service numbers are quite a bit down on Keys', winning 58.9% of service points compared to 63.9%, while her return numbers are barely any better than her compatriot, winning 46.3% of return points at this year's US Open as opposed to Keys' 45.7%.
Stephens third set record and win rate unsustainable
Stephens' recent success on tour - she's won 14 of her 18 matches since her return from injury this summer - is built on the backbone of an incredible 8-0 record in final sets, and four of her wins this year at the US Open have come via a decider, including a 7-6 victory over Anastasija Sevastova in the quarter-final, and 7-5 against Venus Williams in Thursday's semi-final.
I've argued recently that this is unsustainable and given that Stephens' career data runs at 65-51 in deciding third sets (56.0%) it is highly unlikely that she will be able to maintain such a run, or indeed, win rate overall. Despite my model largely agreeing that Keys' price is fair today, it is probable that Stephens will be able to be opposed in the future.
Keys likely to be at the forefront of the WTA Tour for years to come
Keys, on the other hand, looks to have the world on her racquet, at least on hard courts. No other woman can currently boast service numbers as good as her, and while her return numbers are certainly nothing special, few players on the WTA can rival her 117.4% hard court combined hold/break percentage and at 22 years of age, she is certainly going to be a main feature at the top of the women's game for some time to come.
With Keys' serve numbers so strong, and projected hold percentage so high, backing her when losing on serve looks the best strategy today, and we can look to do so in-running at spots such as 0-30 or 15-40 down when trading above her current market price.
Hedging for profit can be considered either when she levels the current game at 30-30 or 40-40, or for those willing to take on a bit more risk, when she holds, while hedging for a loss if she is broken.
It will be fascinating to see two maiden Grand Slam finalists, and with a new Grand Slam winner guaranteed, just as interesting as tonight's match will be the direction that both of these players take following the final.
Back Madison Keys when 0-30 or 15-40 down on serve
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