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Wimbledon in-play tactics: Whose bouncebackability will put the most cash in your pocket this year?

Who are the best players to back after losing the first set, and which top players will put the most cash in your pocket if you're betting in-play. The Paddy Power Blog crunches the data to find out...

by Josh Powell | June 26, 2015

The smell of strawberries and cream combined with the fear of being put through Cliff Richard’s back catalogue can only mean one thing. Wimbledon has arrived. And while SW19 becomes a playground for celebrities and posh folk, the biggest tennis tournament of the year provides the rest of us with some perfect punting opportunities.

In our latest edition of in-play tactics, the Paddy Power Blog team are looking at which players you should or shouldn’t back if they go a set down. The general myth is that a top player – such as Djokovic, Murray or Federer – will be able to recover from this minor setback. The general consensus being that in a best of five set match, going 1-0 down against a lesser opponent isn’t an immediate cause for concern, and if anything provides in-play punters to get a better price about the favourite now that they are a set behind.

But is that the case?

Well, the answer is sometimes. And there are certainly some big names to avoid. Below is a table made up of the top 12 players in the Wimbledon betting and their stats for the 2015 season so far. The bar chart shows their win rate after they have gone a set down, with the number of times it has happened in each bar. You’ll see straight away that Novak Djokovic has the best win rate after losing the first set, but that it’s only happened to him three times this year. The profit/loss figure above each bar is how much you money you would have made or lost by putting a £10 in-play bet on that player every time they lost the first set.


  • We’re serving up the latest Wimbledon odds over at Desktop | Mobile

There’s no need to fear a Rafa-lution

A lot of the big name players are surprisingly low down on the list, particularly Rafael Nadal. It’s an interesting pointer for punters who may see Nadal losing the first set as a great betting opportunity as the Spaniard becomes a more attractive price. However, the world ranked number 10 has won just once after losing the first set on nine occasions this year, and a £10 in-running bet on Nadal in each of those nine matches were he has gone 1-0 down, would leave you with a deficit of £72.

Similarly Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych and Marin Cilic are all below the 25 per cent win mark after losing the first set this year, and may be ones to swerve looking at their negative P&L. Rather, their opponents may provide a prime punting opportunity at decent odds.


Don’t discount some Murray momentum

Contrary to what may be popular belief, it might not be the best idea to plough into Andy Murray either if he has lost the opening set. While his odds may improve, it still might not accurately reflect the player’s ability to come-back and win the match. However, Murray’s win rate of 40 per cent after losing the first set is reasonably high, and reading between the lines you may feel there are circumstances to get involved in backing the Scot.

Four of Murray’s six losses after losing the first set have come against the powerhouse that is Novak Djokovic, so it may be that Murray becomes a smart in-play bet against weaker opposition. In the four matches he’s won this year despite losing the opening set, three of them have been against players ranked 40 or lower – Gilles Muller, Lukas Rosol and Dominic Thiem.

Simply, on the face of it Murray’s P&L of -£31.62 on £10 in-play bets when he’s lost the opening set is a negative, however Murray may be the ideal punt if the opponent he is facing is a considerably lower ranked player. Particularly with a passionate home support behind him.

  • Has Andy Murray Scot what it takes to win at SW19? The latest odds are right here: Desktop | Mobile

Andy Murray GB flag

Stan the man?

Stan Wawrinka is in the top four seeds for this year’s tournament and has been well backed in the outright market already at odds of 16/1. The Swiss star shocked plenty in the sport by beating Novak Djokovic in the French Open last month – in a game where he lost the first set but came back to win. In that match Wawrinka drifted to an 8/1 shot after losing the opening set 4-6, but in-play punters were rewarded as he picked up three straight sets on the bounce to lift the trophy.

Of the 13 times Wawrinka has lost the opening set this year, he has come back to win the match on five occasions. In four of those matches he was Evens or bigger after the first set loss which goes someway to explaining why he would have put £55.83 in your back pocket if you had put £10 on him to win each time he had gone behind.


On that basis Stan Wawrinka might be the key go-to man if you’re having an in-play punt. Similarly Milos Raonic has a 41.7 per cent win rate after losing the first set this season, and has a P&L of £56 for the year. The Canadian came back to beat Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells and Kei Nishikori at the Brisbane International, on both occasions he had drifted to 5/1 after the first set.

Clearly there is a lot more to an in-play punt than what the face of these stats suggest. The figures don’t take into account for example, any particular lucky breaks, or how highly ranked the opposition is, but it does give us some interesting indications.

  • If Rafael Nadal goes a set down, don’t necessarily be tempted to jump on the Spaniard, you might be wiser backing the other guy instead.
  • If Murray goes down a set against a lower ranked player he may prove to be value, however if he loses the first set against Novak Djokovic then it is Goodnight Vienna.
  • Wawrinka and Raonic in particular are worth a nibble if they go a set down, particularly in games where they are against useful opponents and their odds creep up. Neither men are there to make up the numbers, and they could be the value bets even after going a set down.

We’re serving up the latest Wimbledon odds right here: Desktop | Mobile

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