Opposing what’s available has been profitable
Prior to Wimbledon, I argued that punters needed to protect themselves from availability bias: the phenomenon where humans act irrationally by giving too much weight to evidence they can readily recall, rather than seeking out all the information that might be relevant.
As observers of the recent rise of players like Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev, I argued that we would over-rate their chances at Wimbledon, recollecting their recent successes, but not reflecting on the fact that they have collectively achieved little on grass. Opposing them in their matches seemed a sound betting strategy, and has proved profitable: none of them got beyond the 4th round.
Meanwhile, the strategy of selecting often big-priced players suggested as having better grass form did better. Novak Djokovic and Matteo Berrettini are both finalists. Roger Federer and Felix Aliassime both got to the quarterfinals.
A grass-player finale
And so, we find ourselves in a final with two players who had previously shown they can do it on grass.
What we don’t have is good data on how the match is likely to be shaped: Djokovic and Berrettini have only played each other twice, once on the hard courts and once on clay.
That hard-court exchange, in the 2019 ATP finals, was barely more than an exhibition match for Djokovic, with Berrettini only winning three games. Djokovic found it more difficult on clay in their next match, being taken to a tie-break in the third set at Roland Garros in 2020, and needing a closely-fought fourth set to close the match out.
According to my ratings, Djokovic should be around 1.341/3 to win this, with Berrettini around 3.8514/5. The market favours Djokovic more – he is around 1.232/9 compared to Berrettini’s 5.104/1 – but given that head-to-head record, and the advantage of experience that Djokovic brings to occasions like this, that discrepancy is probably justified.
The stats on grass
The fascinating aspect of this final, though, will be how long the points last. Berrettini and Djokovic both top the charts when it comes to their first serve on grass. Berrettini has only had around half of his first serves returned in this tournament, and both him and Djokovic win over half of their first-serve points by playing only two shots. Don’t expect long rallies.
For this reason, is worth backing Over 38.0 Games in the Total Games market at around 2.001/1. There are unlikely to be many breaks of serve, and providing Berrettini doesn’t crumble under the pressure of it all, he should be able to claim at least one set, which would see the game tally comfortably exceed 40.
It’s for the same reasons that supporting Djokovic to win 3-1 is a value bet at around 3.6013/5. Berrettini should be able to get one of these sets to a tie break that he can pinch, but Djokovic will likely be able to outmanoeuvre the Italian and take his sixth Wimbledon title relatively comfortably.