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The Effects of Retirement in Tennis Betting

ATP and WTA tennis bettors should be aware of player retirements and the affect they have on the following markets. These are often a source of great frustration amongst tennis bettors with much debate on social media about the ethics of a player retiring from one event, and then playing the next week.

This article looks at the effects of retirements in tennis betting and whether or not the market overreacts following a retirement?

Are the players injured so badly they have to retire?

Some players seem to retire more often than others - Mikhail Youzhny, for example, retired four times since the start of the 2013 season and has done so three times in 12 matches since October, whilst Michael Russell has done so six times since the start of the 2013 season. Other players known for their fragile health and high number of retirements are Tommy Haas, Gael Monfils, Michael Llodra or Radek Stepanek. In contrary to this there are also players that practically never retire during their matches and Swiss legend Roger Federer would be on the top of this list.

Obviously there are many instances where a player has little option but to retire, but are there instances where a player retires without being, and may therefore be underrated by the market the next week?

Certainly there are many examples of players having much bigger prices than may normally be expected after they retired the previous week.  Some examples from the 2013 tennis season were the following:

  • Andy Murray was 1.14 against Nicolas Mahut at Queens, 3 weeks after retiring against Marcel Granollers with a back injury.
  • Jarkko Nieminen was 1.56 against Bjorn Phau in Sydney (winning 6-0 6-1) after he retired the previous week with a migraine.
  • Horacio Zeballos beat Martin Fischer in Kitzbuhel priced 2.59 after retiring with a stomach muscle problem the previous week.
  • Michael Russell beat Hiroki Moriya when priced 2.17 in qualifying for Tokyo after retiring the previous week with a knee injury.

The problem with these prices is that they might be considered "too good to be true" on occasion, and certainly the market is very wary about players that have injury doubts or have retired in their last match.

Following analyses should decide whether prices on a previously injured player were indeed justified, or whether there was an overreaction to the previous retirement by the markets.

Note: All Top 100 players from the ATP and WTA Tour in the 2013 tennis season were researched and closing odds from Pinnacle Sports used.

Analysis of Retirements on ATP Tour

The following tables illustrate how the ATP players fared following a retirement in their previous match.

Retirements by player's rank:

ATP retirement by rank

Retirements by player's closing odds:

ATP retirement by odds

Retirements by lenght of player's absence:

ATP retirement by absence

What we can analyse from the above tables is that whilst the ATP sample is relatively small, it showed an excellent overall return of investment of 23.17% when backing a player that has retired in their previous match. That would indicate the market's scepticism of a player's fitness in this situation is not necessarily justified.

The most telling table is the length of absence table, which shows a clear disparity between short and long absences from action.

Returns for players returning after one or two weeks were huge, with 43 wins from 57 matches returning a profit of £2487 from level £100 stakes, and generating a magnificent return on investment of 43.63%.  It would be very surprising if this huge ROI was sustainable over a larger sample but it would be highly unlikely that it would not be strongly positive.

The only conclusion we can draw from this is that ATP players that retire and then play the week later only had a minor injury or illness which after treatment or rest causes them little issues the following week. However, based on the data, longer absences seem more genuine and clearly take longer for a player to recover from, and backing ATP players after a three week or longer absence should be done in very select circumstances.

Analysis of Retirements on WTA Tour

The following tables illustrate how WTA players fared following a retirement in their previous match, and show exactly why the two tours need to be treated very differently.

Retirements by player's rank:

WTA retirement by rank

Retirements by player's closing odds:

WTA retirement by odds

Retirements by lenght of player's absence:

WTA retirement by absence

Whilst there were less matches in the sample it is clear that the WTA results were in complete contrast to the ATP.  There was a huge negative return of -16.35% from the 63 matches sampled in the WTA. The worst area by far in the WTA was when a player returned immediately to action the following week - the polar opposite to the ATP.

We can use the information in this article to our advantage, looking to selectively back ATP players when having retired in the previous match, and looking to oppose WTA players on the same basis.

The statistics in this article show that the key to successful tennis betting is treating the ATP and WTA Tours as completely separate entities, using relevant analysis for each tour.

This article was provided by Pinnacle Sports, the best and most professional online bookmaker.

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