Looking to maintain his record in a profitable column, Jack Houghton thinks Federer can continue to top the ace count against Djokovic, and that a close match is likely.
"Of the 122 sets they’ve had available to play in their matches, they’ve used 100 of them, a whopping 82%, which marks them out as producing the most competitive matches of any of the top players head-to-head."
Taking a statistical approach to tennis betting has proved lucrative this year. I promise this is the last time I'll mention my tip of Wawrinka to win the Australian Open at 48.047/1 (in this blog, at least), but I've also been really pleased with the analysis of the previous performances of non-British wildcards at Wimbledon, and the success of pre-Championship tip Nick Kyrgios, among others. Statistics were also able to identify that Federer was looking resurgent on grass, and those who followed the advice and backed him at 7.06/1 now have the opportunity to trade out for an all-green book.
In some respects, the story of these Championships for those analysing the performances of Federer and Djokovic has been how well they have been serving. Federer has served an average of 11 aces a match, with them delivering around 10% of his points. More impressive has been Federer's second-serve record, but more of that later.
Djokovic's first serve has been even more notable than Federer's. Also delivering around 11 a match, he hit startling form in his semi final against Dimitrov, with aces accounting for around 17% of his points won.
To date, head-to-head, the pair has averaged a combined ace total of just under 13 a match. Federer has served more on 24 occasions (70%), to Djokovic's five (15%), with five matches ending in a tie. All this tells us that Federer should be around the 1.422/5 mark to serve most aces. And given that the last (and only) time the pair met on grass - here at Wimbledon in their 2012 semi final - Federer won the ace-count 12-9, I'm inclined to think those odds should even be a little shorter. On this basis, then, I'll be laying Djokovic at any odds up to 2.26/5 to serve the most aces. This way we'll have the draw working for us as well: a relatively common occurrence with these two players.
In a total of 100 sets, these two have played 16 tie-breaks, or about one every six sets played. Assuming they play four or five sets in the final, that translates to odds of around 1.564/7 that we'll see a tie-break in Sunday's final, and 2.789/5 that we won't. As this is broadly in line with the odds in the early market exchanges, I'll be staying out of this one.
With a head-to-head of 18-16 in Federer's favour, the two appear closely matched, and this borne out by the fact that, of the 122 sets they've had available to play in their matches, they've used 100 of them, a whopping 82%, which marks them out as producing the most competitive matches of any of the top players head-to-head. What's more, this percentage is creeping up: in their last 10 matches, they have used 85% of the sets available to them, with their last three grand-slam meetings all going beyond three sets. Applying this to Sunday's final, we can expect a close match which goes to four or five sets.
Although Djokovic is the match favourite, I'm inclined to think that Federer is the value on grass. Based on the key metrics I've been monitoring this year, Djokovic may be returning the second serve slightly better than Federer at these Championships, but, crucially, Federer's second-serve points-won percentage has been a stunning 68%, with Djokovic's languishing a long way behind. The story of the match may well be that Federer is able to generate more opportunities to break serve than Djokovic, and that is likely to be the deciding factor. I'll be taking a bit of a punt and following my pre-tournament tip of Federer and backing him to win 3-1 (6.25/1) and 3-2 (7.413/2).