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Find the underdog winning a first round tennis match

You see this happening all the time in a tennis tournament: a well-known player crashes out of the tournament in the first round against a relatively unknown, low-ranked player. I f you had placed a bet on this player, you would have made good money. So, how do you identify those spots in the first-round draw?

First off, some basic facts:

  • This happens far more often in the ATP (men's) events than in the ladies' events. Why: because the competition is much more fierce in the ATP, while the difference between the #15 and #150 ranked player in the World in women's WTA is huge. At the same time, the Men's #150 can beat almost any player if he has a good day and his higher ranked opponent is having a bad day.
  • It happens more often when it is a less important (read: lower prize money) tennis tournament. Why: because players prepare themselves more diligently for the big tournaments, and thus are less likely to be upset in the first round

Ok, so what are the main reasons for early-stage upsets?

There are a number of factors and situations leading to that, and many of them can be evaluated before placing a bet. You need to follow what is going on on the circuit, or at least check the players' stats that you can find on the ATP or WTA website. Look at the last results and tournaments played for a player that might be likely to do better than his ranking.

Some typical situations:

  1. Low ranked player B  has survived the qualification and has played several matches on the same surface that the main event will be played on, while high ranked player A has played on a different surface the week before. A has a small advantage because he has already found his rhythm and tends to be more confident. Having nothing to lose against a higher ranked player sometimes brings out the best in the underdog. If you can add a fact such as player A being an attacking player and the surface is his preferred, fast type of court vs the opponent being more of a baseliner, and you have a situation where the odds for a bet on player A might be tempting for a long shot bet.

  2. High-ranked player A has played in a lot of big tournaments, maybe has some smaller injury problems. Now he is playing in a minor tournament that he signed up for a long time ago. He can't/doesn't want to cancel unless the injury is really grave. It is a fact that the top players very often get paid to show up for smaller events by the organizators. It's common practice because it attracts spectators and other players alike. This money will only be paid if the player actually plays. But he is more likely to lose his first match since he won't give 100% and get a much-needed break.

  3. Players have a history against each other. Check the record of player vs. player on the ATP website. Some players have someone that is ranked way below them, but they can't seem to be able to beat that guy. Remember, tennis is sometimes just my best shot vs. your worst shot! If a low-ranked player has his better-ranked opponent figured out perfectly, he can beat him over and over again. The odds set for such a game do not always factor in player-to-player history, so you might have an edge here.