Tennis Betting Advice - December 2020

That was the year that was...

Thursday 17th December 2020

In your Ones to Watch email today:

  • 2020 Season Review…
  • Good news for the New Year…
  • Coming soon – Ones to Watch in 2021

That was the year that was…

I don’t normally start my Season Review by referring to world events. But sport doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

We can’t begin any look back over 2020 without acknowledging the coronavirus pandemic. It has had a massive impact on all areas of life this year, and continues to do so.

In times of hardship, sport is often something that many turn to for solace, distraction, hope, and entertainment. But such is the nature of COVID-19, the sport we know and love was also hit hard.

I never thought I’d see Wimbledon called off. The last time it happened was in World War II. That pretty much says it all.

The Grand Slam, ATP & WTA tennis calendar was completely scrubbed out from mid-March all the way through to the end of July. And a stack of autumn events in Asia were also cancelled, too. Including the women’s end-of-season championships in Shenzhen, China.

Looking back now, it’s a massive achievement that the other three Grand Slams all got played. The Australian Open had already gone ahead as normal in January. The French Open relocated from May to the end of September. And the US Open took place in late August, with no fans allowed at the venue.

Overall, 2020 saw a total of 56 tournaments played. Compare that to 2019’s roster of 125 events, and you can see how badly hit the tennis calendar was.

Season Review…

If you’re a long-time Ones to Watch reader, you’ll know that I’m ever the optimist. After Indian Wells was called off in March, I immediately started looking forward to the tennis coming back.

On the betting front, during the hiatus, we did as well as we could do under the circumstances.

You and I looked at everything from Andy Murray playing online tennis on his PlayStation… to new, unofficial mini-tournaments that sprang up across the USA and Europe. For what it’s worth, our self-styled ‘Lockdown Picks’ feature recorded a 7.5% ROI. But really, keeping the Ones to Watch train rolling was the main goal.

When the ‘proper’ tennis returned in the first week of August, the long wait was rewarded. With our two Outright Winner picks both making the final at the first event back, WTA Palermo in Italy. Fiono Ferro lifting the trophy at a top-price 25/1, with Anett Kontaveit runner-up at 12/1 Each Way.

Any Ones to Watch year is going to be defined by the big wins. That’s what we go after with our tournament selections: appealing outsiders at attractive Each Way prices.

My mantra is always, ‘it only takes one’…

This year we hit on not one but two Big Ones. Sofia Kenin won the Australian Open at 50/1. And teenager Iga Swiatek won the French Open at a top-price 100/1. Kenin was also a 40/1 runner-up at the French Open.

The numbers game…

In terms of overall performance of our tournament picks, one way to measure this is to observe how many of our players got to quarter finals, semi finals, and finals…

The 2020 figures come out in line with our previous seasons, despite all the disruptions and the reduced calendar.

Ones to Watch Outright Winner picks:

Ones to Watch Outright Winner picks


Picks = Outright Winner (Each Way) picks
QF+ = player got to Quarter Finals or beyond in named tournament
SF+ = Semi Final or beyond
Finals = player reached the Final
W = Won tournament
R-U = Runner-Up (for an Each Way payout)

I measure the Outright Winner picks like this because, to my mind at least, getting a player to a quarter final at an attractive price (say 20/1, 33/1, 50/1), is an achievement in itself. Even more so if they reach the semi final, which is one match win away from a place payout at half the odds.

The point being, the more players we get to the business end of tournaments at big prices, the more chances we’ll have of landing a Big One.

Getting an average of 40% of selections into quarter finals+, 20% to semi finals+, and 9% into finals, is good with me. That kind of strike-rate will serve us well.

What’s the profit & loss, you may ask?

I’ll beat the drum again by outlining that I’m not a tipster. If I was, all you’d get from me is the name of a player every now and then. And no analysis, no evidence, no Ones to Watch lists and pointers, no match-day thoughts, no price opinions, no player insights.

Not being a tipster, I don’t have a ‘staking plan’ for you, either. A wise man once said to me, if you can’t make it pay to level stakes, it’s not worth it. Applying that level-stakes approach to my 2020 tournament picks, at 1 point Each Way (2 pts total per selection), the figure come out 71.94% ROI.

The evidence for backing outsiders…

Every week of each tennis season, for the last five years, I’ve been recording the Outright Winner prices of every player on tour and at all the Grand Slams.

I gather up the results for every event and the pre-tournament price for every trophy winner and every runner-up.

And every year, this data reminds us that our quest for a Big One is grounded in facts: avoiding short prices on favourites, and instead hunting at the larger end of the odds, is very much a worthwhile pursuit.

Here are the figures of encouragement, for this year, and each of the last five seasons.

Tournament Winners & Runners-Up:

Tournament Winners & Runners-Up


T = Tournaments
W 10/1+ = Winners @ 10/1+
W < 9/1 = Winners @ 9/1 or less
R-U 10/1+ =Runners-Up @ 10/1+
R-U < 9/1 = Runners-Up @ 9/1 or less
AV. = Average

Tournament Finalists:

Tournament Finalists


F = Finalists
F < 9/1 = Finalists @ 9/1 or less
F 10/1+ = Finalists @ 10/1+
F 50/1+ = Finalists @ 50/1+
F 100/1+ = Finalists @ 100/1+
AV. = Average

Those numbers tell us that the majority of tournaments (60.41%) feature a player in the final at double-figure odds of 10/1+.

And when we look at the 50/1+ and 100/1+ figures, things get very interesting…

In particular, a total of 67 finalists recorded at odds of 100/1+ over that five-year period.

That means, on average, 11.92% of tournaments are producing a player in a final at odds of 100/1+. To my eyes, that’s an extremely encouraging and exciting one-in-10 figure.

Needless to say, you & I will be continuing the big-odds mission next season…

Good news for the New Year…

The fledgling 2021 men’s calendar has been released today. And it’s good news. With the season set to start in the first week of January. And the Australian Open moved to February. A women’s announcement for the WTA Tour should follow soon, too.

Here’s what the ATP have announced today:

2021 ATP Tour Calendar

That’ll be perfect timing for our new, Ones to Watch in 2021 report…

After this season’s list featured Kenin and Swiatek, to name but two. We’ll be looking to latch on to the young & improving players to follow at big prices next season.

I’ll be delivering that 2021 player list to you in the first week of January.

Lots to look forward to, then, as we head towards the start of the new season.

Until then, let me take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas, and an even happier New Year.

Enjoy the tennis…

Best wishes,

Oliver Upstone

Tom Wilson

Ones to Watch