The first Grand Slam of the year is upon us, and as always with these major tennis events, liquidity will increase massively. It never fails to amaze me how many people ignore tennis for 44 weeks of the year, yet somehow think they can make vast profit on those 8 Grand Slam weeks. If you don't understand the markets or know the players, how are you going to compete with those who do? I'm not just talking about your casual punter who has an occasional flutter on all major sporting events, I also mean those who trade entirely different sports for the rest of the year but suddenly switch over to tennis for 2 weeks.
Not that money can't be made; I'm sure there are those who do their research and keep tabs on the ATP and WTA tours but I am positive that the vast majority are completely clueless and won't even know any of the players outside the top 10 (even less for the women!). I'm not complaining because this I now realise, is where I am going to find great value. It just amuses me to see half the Betfair football forum shift their inept banter over to the tennis forum for two weeks. When you see what gets written there by regular punters, it gives you real hope for some easy pickings.
A classic example of this cluelessness, was last year's Wimbledon final. Djokovic was world number one by that time and had beaten his opponent, Nadal, on all four separate occassions in 2011 already. Yet somehow, the market priced Nadal up as clear odds on favourite. It made absolutely no sense to me and the value was proven by a comfortable win for the Serb. But I did nothing. I wasn't trading with any value at the time and the opportunity was not taken. The only reason I can fathom why Nadal was priced so low, was because most people didn't know much about Djokovic and went with what they knew. This year however, will by my first Grand Slam where I trade with a value-seeking approach and I will be licking my lips at those sort of mistakes this coming fortnight.
Still, don't want to get too cocky. My Grand Slam results have tended to be very disappointing in past years. I have always rushed into them like a bull in a china shop, taking on too many games at once as I gorge myself on the feast of matches in-play. I've always set my expectations too high simply because it's a major tournament and so tried to force things too much - not this year.
I realise now that there isn't any reason for me to get any more excited about a Grand Slam than a 250 tour event. When you have 3 or 4 tournaments on at the same time in an average tennis week, it means there are actually just as many, if not more opportunities to make money in any of the other 44 weeks of the year (bar the off-season). I know a lot of traders will only play the Grand Slams and the big Masters / Premier events but I have never understood this. I don't suddenly do any worse just because less of the top players are involved. If you put in the effort to research your players, it makes very little difference to your chances of making money - the same opportunities arise in the 250s as in the Grand Slams, it's just with a (partially) different set of players.
So this year, I will not be making a big fuss over the Grand Slams. For me, they are no different to any other week on the tour - except this year, I won't be one of the mug punters for a change!
OFF-COURT BEAUTY: World number 20, Italy's Flavia Pennetta: