June 29, 2011 - by Austin Link
It’s time for the Final Four – of Wimbledon! – and just like this past March, we’re missing a few notable favorites. Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, and even women’s no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki are out of the tournament.
Our new Wimbledon ratings have shown, however, that these types of early exits were to be expected coming in to this year’s event. Here’s a quick look back at the results from the quarterfinals, and a peek forward to see what might happen in the final two rounds.
The big news in the quarterfinals was Roger Federer’s exit, his second straight in the fifth round after seven consecutive years in the finals.
The way it happened (a comeback from 2 sets down by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga) makes the upset seem shocking, but our Wimbledon predictions actually showed it as the most likely upset going in to the quarterfinals. While anybody who looks as much like Muhammad Ali as Tsonga does always has a puncher’s chance, Federer’s age appears to have brought him back to the pack, making upsets of him far more common.
With Federer gone, there are really just two players left with significant chances: Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
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The ratings place Nadal as a slightly better player, giving him a small edge if they meet head to head in the finals, but Andy Murray presents a more difficult semifinals matchup than Tsonga, so both Nadal and Djokovic have 42% odds of claiming the Wimbledon championship.
On the women’s side normalcy resumed, with only one upset in the quarterfinals, in a match between Sabine Lisicki and Marion Bartoli that our Wimbledon women’s predictions saw as a near toss-up going in. In the other three matches the favorites all cruised, with only Petra Kvitova giving up more than 3 games in any set.
The upcoming rounds should be interesting, however. Specifically, the semifinal match between Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka brings about a conflict in favorites.
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The betting market favors Kvitova, possibly partly based off her Madrid finals victory over Azarenka. Our Wimbledon women’s rankings, on the other hand, see the higher ranked Azarenka winning 65% of the time. Why the difference?
Although our current ratings algorithms do have some known shortcomings (such as how they adjust for playing surface) that we intend to improve in the future, we’ve also witnessed some inefficiencies in the betting markets for this year’s Wimbledon tournament.
In fact, given the current odds for the Azarenka-Kvitova semifinal matchup, and the odds for each to win Wimbledon, Azarenka has a better implied to chance to win in the final, provided she makes it there, than Kvitova does. It’s this kind of inconsistency that makes us a little less worried that our odds don’t match the market.
So, we view Azarenka as a slight favorite over Maria Sharapova to raise the Venus Rosewater Dish as Wimbledon champion. The Betfair market disagrees, though, and there’s only one way to find out for sure: the next few days should provide some intriguing tennis.
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