The men's singles final takes place at Wimbledon on Sunday, with Marin Cilic taking on Roger Federer. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, runs the numbers to see if anything can prevent Federer claiming an eighth Wimbledon title...
"With my model showing him to have a projected hold percentage of exactly 90%, Federer is expected to hold significantly in excess of the ATP mean, and with Cilic having had historical issues with break point conversion, backing the Swiss when 0-30 and 15-40 down in service games can be considered."
King of Grass Federer going for eighth Wimbledon title
If Rafa Nadal is the King of Clay, there can be little debate in calling Roger Federer the King of Grass. The Swiss legend won five consecutive Wimbledon titles from 2003 to 2007, with only a 9-7 final set defeat to Nadal in 2008 preventing Federer from six in a row. Normal service was resumed in 2009, with an epic 16-14 final set triumph over Andy Roddick, before defeating Andy Murray in four sets in 2012.
However, two final defeats at the hands of Novak Djokovic have ensued since that victory over the Scotsman five years ago, and many have debated whether Federer would ever get to grace centre court on the second Sunday of Wimbledon ever again.
Federer beaten just twice this year
Throughout an outstanding 2017, where his record reads an incredible 31-2, this eventuality became ever more likely, with Federer rolling back the years with panache to accumulate one of his best seasons on tour so far.
Indeed, it's impossible to even state that Federer has been lucky - he's run marginally below expectation on break points this year - and probably the area where he's over performed has been a 17-5 tiebreak record. Of course, Federer's main luck this year has come in the form of dramatic slumps by two of his main rivals, Murray and Djokovic, and the inability of Rafa to perform anywhere near his clay level across other surfaces.
Federer data this year not quite elite level
Having said this, it would be unfair to unequivocally state that Federer is where he is this season because of the demise of others, but the fact that his combined hold/break percentage this year (91.8% holds, 25.8%) breaks) of 117.6% isn't quite at the elite 120% mark does illustrate that he has benefited from his rivals downfalls, at least in some part.
Opponent Cilic has had a bizarre season, with seven defeats in his opening 13 matches, suffering losses against the likes of Jozef Kovalik, Dan Evans, Dustin Brown and Taylor Fritz, but from Monte Carlo onwards he is 24-6, and despite not facing a top ten opponent, and just one top 20 player, en route to the final, it would be harsh to describe him as cannon fodder for Federer.
Cilic with a terrible record as a heavy underdog against top players
Market prices of [1.22] about Federer indicate that Cilic has a puncher's chance at least of taking this title, and my model indicated that this price was about right, with no pre-match value available. It is worth noting, however, that when priced in excess of 5.00 against top 10 opponents, Cilic is a horrific 2-21 throughout his career, and in Grand Slams, he has won just one of these match-ups in ten outings.
Given this, it would take a huge change of fortune for the Croat to win his first Wimbledon title, and similarly to the ladies final, I want to focus on in-play strategies when losing in service games.
In-Play strategies viable for the men's final
With my model showing him to have a projected hold percentage of exactly 90%, Federer is expected to hold significantly in excess of the ATP mean, and with Cilic having had historical issues with break point conversion, backing the Swiss when 0-30 and 15-40 down in service games can be considered.
In these cases, we can hedge for profit or remove some or all liability at 30-30 or deuce, or for those who prefer to tolerate more risk, when Federer holds. If he is broken, we would need to hedge for a loss, although the tick risk is significantly lower than if we had backed him at the start of their service game.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
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