Saturday, 29 December 2012

Rankings: Over/Under

As ever Unibet are the only bookmaker out there willing to offer an extensive list of over/under ranking lines for the new season and a couple of lines stick out to me as worthwhile plays. The obvious danger with taking the under on a rankings line is that injury is not on your side. Despite the provision that a player must play in at least five tournaments for bets to stand, it is highly unlikely that any player would beat their ranking line off the back of five tournaments alone.

However, that being said, there are two lines that I particularly like the under on and because of the possibility of injury I advise them as two point plays. If injury wasn't something we'd need to factor into the process I'd be quite tempted to advise four or five point plays, but it's worth being prudent on long-term bets of this nature.

Mona Barthel

Mona Barthel ended the 2012 season ranked 39 and her line for 2013 is 37.5. Barthel is a player very capable of being top 20 in the future and arguably higher. Early last year Barthel won Hobart as a qualifier and reached the 3rd round of the Australian Open - losing to eventual champion Victoria Azarenka. The young German had a shocking run of form during mid-season, losing 6 consecutive matches, and failed to go beyond the first round of the Olympics or the remaining Grand Slams. That poor run of results plays into our hands this season as there is plenty of scope for Barthel to improve and gain rankings points. She will need to take an upward curve on her 2012 season and with the potential she possesses it's worth backing her to do so.

2* Mona Barthel under 37.5 (to finish in the top 37) 2013 year-end ranking @ 1.87 (Unibet)

Eugenie Bouchard

'Genie' Bouchard made her first forays on to the main tour during 2011 and I'm fully expecting her to end 2013 inside the world's top 100. Bouchard is currently ranked 147 and her line is 106.5. The junior Wimbledon champion has a big future in the women's game and is very marketable for the WTA on and off the court. Up until now Bouchard has only played in a handful of main tour events but we should see a significant increase in that number for 2013. The Canadian has already been the beneficiary of a wildcard for Auckland and she should regularly qualify for main draws on the occasions she doesn't get in via entry ranking or by virtue of a wildcard.

2* Eugenie Bouchard under 106.5 (to finish in the top 106) 2013 year-end ranking @ 1.87 (Unibet)

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Rankings Match-Bet: Petra Kvitova vs Angelique Kerber

BWIN have priced up a series of match-bets for the 2013 season and one selection that stands out to The Overrule is the match-up between the two lefties in the top 10 on the WTA Tour. 2012 was a contrasting year for Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber, so before we take a look at what the future may hold for 2013, let's first review the past 12 months.

Kvitova entered 2012 as the number two ranked player in the world, having won her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2011 and off the back of a devastating indoor season to culminate 2011. The storyline going into the season was whether Petra would end the year as the number one ranked player. She began her season with semi-final losses in Sydney and the Australian Open. Kvitova's loss to Maria Sharapova in Melbourne was to become, in many ways, the story of her season. A match in which she had many opportunities to seize control and for one reason or another, never did.

It has often been thought that because of Petra's asthmatic condition she would never be able to play to her potential in North American tournaments and her early exits at Indian Wells and Miami further added weight to that thinking. During this period she was affected by illness which was to become another hallmark of her 2012 season.

On clay Petra once again lost to Sharapova in the last four in Stuttgart and suffered a surprising loss to Fed Cup teammate Lucie Hradecka in Madrid. Her form was very up and down during this stage of the season and that was further exhibited in Rome, where she was beaten by Kerber and a stomach injury in the quarter-finals.

Struggling for consistency and confidence Petra benefited from a kind draw that opened up during the French Open. Once again, it was Sharapova who put her to the sword in the semi-finals in a match that proved to be surprisingly one-sided.

The grass court season was hoped to be where Petra could rediscover her game, but the signs were not promising after a first round defeat in Eastbourne to Ekaterina Makarova. Kvitova had reached the final of Eastbourne the year before and with a Wimbledon title to defend, a significant drop in rankings points appeared on the cards. At Wimbledon there were signs of life, although Petra freely admitted she was struggling to deal with the expectations and pressure of being defending champion. Her tournament was ended by eventual champion Serena Williams, which was no disgrace, given how Serena was carving her way through the entire tour during those summer months.

A quarter-final loss at the Olympics to Maria Kirilenko followed before Petra experienced her best few weeks of the year during the US Open series. A 12-1 record during Montreal, Cincinnati and New Haven enabled her to lift two titles and put to bed any suggestions that she wasn't capable of success on North American courts. However, the decision to play 3 weeks back-to-back heading into the US Open was not at all wise. A mixture of Marion Bartoli being on fire and Petra being out of gas resulted in a 4th round exit in New York.

Another illness affected Petra during the Asian swing where she failed to go beyond the 2nd round and bronchitis caused her to withdraw from the year end championships in Istanbul after losing in straight sets to Agnieszka Radwanska in the opening group match. Her individual season ended at number eight which was a far cry from the hopes and expectations that existed at the outset of the year. And although Petra was once again celebrating Fed Cup success, she lost to Ana Ivanovic on home soil with the opportunity to close out the tie.

All in all, the season had to be considered as a disappointment for Petra, who has weapons that many of her rivals don't possess. One quality Petra has yet to develop is the ability to consistently win when not playing to the level she expects. And for that reason, Petra's ceiling and basement are still world's apart, causing her form to yo-yo.

If Kvitova's season was underwhelming, Kerber's was the complete antithesis. The German entered the season barely clinging onto a seeding at the Australian Open and ended it with a career high at number five. Kerber had been a surprise semi-finalist at the 2011 US Open but by the end of 2012 she had firmly positioned herself as the top German player in the world and, in my view, the best defender in the women's game. 

Two semi-finals in Auckland and Hobart kicked off her season before losing to Sharapova at the Australian Open in the 3rd round. Kerber only took 3 games off Maria in Melbourne, but it was to be a different story in Marseille a few weeks later. 'Angie' completely outplayed Maria and fully deserved her straight sets win on her way to the title. A semi-final loss to Victoria Azarenka at Indian Wells sandwiched two early losses in Doha and Miami.

Kerber ruined the Caroline Wozniacki Open in Copenhagen by defeating the Dane in straight sets in the final. Losses to Kvitova and Na Li followed on clay and in Rome Sharapova exacted revenge for the Marseille loss on her way to defending her title. The following month highlighted Kerber's consistency levels, she reached the quarter-finals of the French Open (losing to Sara Errani), the final of Eastbourne (where she held multiple match-points against Tamira Paszek), the semi-finals of Wimbledon (losing to Radwanska) and the quarter-finals of the Olympics (losing to Azarenka).

Off the back of those excursions it wasn't surprising there would be a letdown along the line and an early loss in Montreal was understandable. Another final was reached in Cincinnati before Errani, once again, took her out of a Grand Slam at the US Open. That match was particularly punishing on the body and it was Errani's craft and willingness to mix up her play that proved decisive. 

The Asian swing culminated in another semi-final and quarter-final and although Kerber left the year end championships in Istanbul without a win to her name, she did play a big role in arguably the match of the year on the women's side against Azarenka. Ending the year at number five far and away exceeded expectations, the question now remains - can Kerber sustain her punishing style of play for 2013 and beyond?

Now that we've looked back on 2012, what about 2013? It's clear that Petra has far more upside going into the new season. Kerber has effectively maxed out her abilities and she will need to be willing to take more risks and not be as passive at key moments in big matches. That is an adjustment she will almost certainly need to make if she wants to be a serious threat to win Grand Slams, rather than being a player who can go deep and yet only so far. 

Her style of play may also become an issue, it is common for players of her ilk to hit a wall and burn out, rather than a player like Kvitova who dictates many of her matches - for better or worse. Scheduling will be key for Kerber going forward to avoid any further stress on the body that she already puts herself through. Petra will hope for more luck with health in the coming season, which I believe is a defining season for her. Her potential far outweighs her current ranking, but she will need to develop a consistency in her game that we haven't yet seen at present. The kind of consistency that Azarenka now exhibits on a weekly basis that she, too, once didn't. 

All factors being considered it will only take a small spike in Petra's year for her to be on the cusp of overtaking Kerber in the rankings, while Kerber will have to maintain what was a consistently strong 2012. The high and low of Petra on a week to week basis has a greater in-between than the consistency that Kerber has shown and with good health I would expect her to end the season ranked back in the top four or five. 

3* Petra Kvitova to have a higher ranking than Angelique Kerber at the end of the 2013 season @ 4/5 (BWIN)

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Opposing Sara Errani

If you predicted the year Sara Errani had in 2012, you should be writing The Overrule, not me. The Italian turned pro in 2002 and up until the end of 2011 she had won two singles titles. In addition, Errani had never finished the year inside the world's top 40. So if I told you her 2012 consisted of four singles titles, an appearance in a Grand Slam final and a year end ranking of 6 (above 2011 Grand Slam winners Petra Kvitova and Li Na) it wouldn't sound believable. Only that's what happened. And that wasn't all, Errani, along with Roberta Vinci, won two Grand Slam doubles titles during 2012 and ended the year as the highest ranked doubles pair.

Errani was one of the feel good stories of the 2012 season, at 5"4 she's the prototypical pocket battleship and has to work hard for every point she wins. Unlike some of the more established elite in the women's game, Errani doesn't possess a Serena Williams-like serve or a Kvitova-like ability to blast winners from all over the court.

All four of Errani's 2012 titles came on clay where she invariably produces her best tennis, that's not to say she isn't capable of performing away from clay, as her QF and SF appearances at the Australian Open and US Open will attest to. However, I wouldn't expect Errani to win a title away from clay in 2013. And the challenges she faces as a top 10 player will increase, her schedule will become more demanding and she'll suddenly become a scalp for players ranked below her that she won't have been considered as in the past.

She'll also have to deal with the expectations that her 2012 performances will now command and the pressures she will be contending with will be very different from before. Can she handle these changes? Quite possibly, it's never easy to tell, and her on court work ethic tells us that at the very least she won't go down without a fight. Although that being said, she was the victim of a 'golden set' at Wimbledon courtesy of Yaroslava Shvedova.

Sportingbet have set Errani's title line at 2.5 with the over being the favourite - to me that can't be justified. In 11 seasons Errani has gone over that total only once. And far from her rise being expected as a player realising their potential, she overachieved significantly and will need to continue doing so to maintain her current status in the world's top 10. The additional benefit when backing a player's under total where it concerns title wins or rankings placings is that injury is on our side rather than against us. In a sport as demanding as tennis, injury is unfortunately an always very real possibility for players on tour.

And with all of these factors in consideration, to be backing even money on the under is a very worthwhile bet on our part. If Errani goes over that 2.5 line, she will have done very well to do so and we can take our chances that she won't with odds that are the wrong way around to how I would price it.

3* Sara Errani to win under 2.5 singles titles in the 2013 season @ EVS (Sportingbet)

The Discipline: Staking

For those of you who aren't new to The Overrule, the staking plan will be exactly the same as it used to be, so you'll be familiar with it. For the newer readers, it's a very simple process. I'll be providing tips on a points system from one to five. The maximum points laid out on any one tip will be ten by virtue of a five point each-way tip, with five points going on the win and five points on the place.

As you will have guessed, the points system is also a confidence/ratings system, with five points being used on picks that I believe to be great value and/or have great confidence in. I'll always try to explain why I believe certain bets are better than others, and no doubt you will disagree with some, and that's ok. Ultimately, it's your money you're betting with, so the person you have to justify each bet to is yourself. It shouldn't be enough for you to blindly back someone's opinion - no matter their pedigree, because it's your money and the wins and losses will be yours.

If your lowest bet is usually £10, you can work off the basis that a 1 point tip is a £10 bet. Or if your lowest bet is usually £100, a 1 point bet is a £100 one and so on, moving up to 5 points, with potential bets of 6-10 points on outright each-way selections (of which there will definitely be some during the season). Outrights are where the bulk of our winnings will come from, there will be ample opportunity to take advantage of good prices throughout the year. I'll explain my process on outright betting before the season starts.

Lack of staking discipline is one of the biggest pitfalls of bettors, the tendency to chase when you've lost, or bet bigger than you normally would when you've won is a common theme amongst almost anyone who has placed regular bets in their life. We've all done it. The important thing is to stop doing it and learn from any mistakes you've made in the past. Everything about betting is a learning process.

Being successful through betting isn't actually that hard - not if you really understand the sports you bet and have an in-depth knowledge of that particular sport, allied with a fundamental understanding of tissue pricing and odds/probabilities - it's staying disciplined that's hard. That's the real test.

With respect to prices I tip and bookmakers/exchanges I advise, for obvious reasons I won't be able or willing to tip any prices that come from the company I currently work for.

I won't be tipping prices from exchanges such as Betfair - why? There will be times when the liquidity on Betfair isn't sufficient for me to justify a tip from the exchanges. What is the use to you - the reader - of a tip which you cannot physically bet on based on the points system because the liquidity just isn't there? Exactly, there is no use, and I'm not the kind of person who is looking to get my statistics inflated based on such deceptive opportunism. I've known people like that and I have absolutely no respect for them, put bluntly, they are frauds.

Each week I'll post the bets/results made for the week so we can keep a track of our staking, profit and the most important figure of all - ROI (return over investment). And as far as bets placed on specials/ante-post markets, naturally we'll highlight and settle those bets when the time comes to do so.

If you bet responsibly you will have more money at the end of 2013 than you did at the start of the year through the tips from The Overrule. So keep it in check and don't get greedy. There will be losing streaks and winning streaks, some bets we'll get somewhat fortunate on and others not, that's just the nature of sports and betting. It's important to stay on an even keel and that's far easier said than done for many of us - we are, after all, human beings who are prone to excesses - but it's the only way to be in order to profit long term from betting.

Coming up shortly I will have my first tip for the 2013 season.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

To void or not to void?

I don't know about you, but I do not like to lose money because of injury. I don't particularly want to win money like that either. Not at the cost of losing it, that's for sure. Fortunately I've never had a bad experience in that sense. I've backed plenty of matches where my player has got injured and seen the match out to completion and vice-versa, but at least the match did reach its conclusion.

It wasn't until 2002 that I had a retirement in a match I'd backed - it was on Roger Federer to beat Tim Henman at the Miami Masters. Henman retired with a neck injury, if my memory serves me well, after losing the first set. I was unsure how my bet would be settled, as I'd never come across such a situation previously, and hadn't looked into it beforehand in the way that I should have. The bet was with William Hill, who void all retirements, and so my stake was returned to me with no winnings. Initially I felt hard done by, but my view since then has always been to back with void books.

One of the many reasons I love Tennis as a sport and as a sport to bet on, is I feel you get a true representation for the outcome. Unlike a number of other sports, Tennis is a sport where the players truly decide the match in nearly all cases. How many matches have you seen where you can truly say the umpire determined the entire outcome? If you're honest, not many. That's not to say some tournaments don't have some extraordinarily poor line crews - Stanford during the 2012 season springs to mind - but at least they had hawk-eye to rectify some of those many wrong calls. Sorana Cirstea will know what I'm talking about.

Not all tournaments have hawk-eye, but I would still maintain Tennis is right up there with sports where you are subject to less variables outside the players themselves with regards the outcome. And so as best as we can if we only back with void books we also remove the subject of sudden injury from determining our wagers.

Are there any instances I would back with a non-void book? Yes, there are a few. If the price variance is such that I feel the value is too much to give up, then I may at times back with a non-void book. The variance would have to be significant. I'd also need to take the particular match-up and any known pre-existing injuries into consideration.

There are a few books who pay out on whoever advances after the first ball is struck. I would only ever consider placing bets with such a book if I knew of a player who was going into the match who had really been struggling with injury and where there was a likelihood they may retire at some point of the match. Over the course of a season there are certainly at least a handful of occasions where such situations can be identified. Caroline Wozniacki in New Haven this year was an example of where it was highly likely she may have to pull out at some stage of her match with Maria Kirilenko. And she did exactly that after losing the first set.

During the 2013 season you will notice that most, if not all, match betting selections I tip will be with void books. If I'm going to back with a one set or one ball book, I will make a point of mentioning it at the time and explaining my reasons for doing so.

I'd be interested to know what approaches you take where it concerns retirements and why, so feel free to give me your view in the comments section on this post, or on Twitter where you can find me @JayJarrahi

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

We shouldn't have left you, without a few tips to step to...

The Overrule is back after being in exile since the end of 2010. Over the past year I've received a few offers to go back into professional tipping covering tennis, football & NFL. None of those offers suited me for various reasons.

So here we are, the aim of this blog is to highlight what I think are good bets each week, using a structured staking system which I'll define before the start of the new season.

I'll also look to enlighten on areas within tennis betting that I think represent profitable opportunities. Whether that be on particular markets at certain stages of the season, or on particular players that we might look to side with or oppose at times in specific situations. All of my tips will be pre-match, pre-tournament or once tournaments are underway, but there won't be any in-play tipping. I'll touch on aspects of in-play that I have experienced through my own betting and trading.

For those that know me from the past, I guess you think you know me? For those that don't, here's some background. I placed my first bet when I was 14. 18 years later I've learnt alot about the industry that has enabled me to continually improve my craft. I'm still learning and that process should never stop.

After a few years spent as a freelance sports journalist, I went into the betting industry as a trader for both football and tennis. I love exchanging ideas and opinions on tennis and betting, so any interaction on that score is welcomed and encouraged. Hopefully The Overrule will be of use to all of you in terms of profiting from Tennis in 2013.