Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tennis US Open: Men's Final & Big Point Performance

Djokovic defeated Federer in a thrilling five-set semifinal match at the tennis US Open on Saturday (September 11, 2010). Some people said that Djokovic played the role of "spoiler" -- ruining our chances of seeing another Nadal-Federer final. Federer and Nadal are two of the all-time greats in tennis, and they have dominated men's tennis over the past few years, winning a combined 17 of 18 Grand Slam events from 2005-2009. The only final Nadal & Federer did not win over that time period was won by... Djokovic.

Nadal and Federer are truly two of the all-time greats. However, scanning the stats shows that Djokovic, at age 23, isn't far behind. His career stats are just a notch below the world's top two players.

Tennis Big Point Performance (BPP)

What does our Tennis "Big Point Performance" (BPP) say about today's finalists? Our book's tennis measure focuses on performance during big points (break points for and against). BPP has been a good predictor of the latter matches in major tennis tournaments and predicted Federer's loss in last year's final.

BPP gives a very slight edge to Djokovic in this year's US Open final. As you can see in the chart below, the semifinal match gives a tiny edge to Nadal, but using both the quarterfinals and semifinals gives the overall edge to Djokovic. Djokovic has been playing the big points consistently well.

Big Point Performance - Men's Finalists

Djokovic = + 7% and +1 in his five-set match over Federer in the Semi-Finals
Djokovic = +24% and +5 in QF match

Nadal = +13% and +2 in his semi-final match over Youzhny
Nadal = -56% and -2 in QF match

Other Factors
  • Head to head: Nadal holds the lead at 14-7, but Djokovic has prevailed in their last three meetings.
  • Surface: Djokovic has done particularly well on hard courts versus Nadal.
  • Nadal has had a great season, losing just four ATP matches in 2010 (compared to Federer's 10 and Djokovic's 12 losses this year).
Nadal is the "easy" pick, but we will go out on a limb and pick Djokovic to upset Nadal.
  • Our main "quant fact" predictor (BPP) points to Djokovic.
  • Djokovic also has other factors such as the playing surface and
  • current winning streak over Nadal.
Because Nadal has the bigger name, he is a heavy favorite at almost 3-1 odds. However, we think the match will be closer than that -- with a Djokovic upset a solid possibility.