The week after a Grand Slam event is always a strange one. After the epic marathon of an Australian Open final, it's even stranger than usual this week. Back come the 250 events, with their eerily quiet morning sessions, polite, sparse applause, blurry internet coverage (where you can't see the ball half the time) and frequently incorrect scoreboards. Zagreb is a far cry from the excitement and pulsating atmosphere of Melbourne. Ricardo Mello v Diego Junquiera is hardly gonna wet the appetite after Djokovic v Nadal. But for me, I don't mind at all. These are the bread and butter weeks and I quite like the contrast. As all the football bettors return to the Premier League till summer, it's just us true tennis aficionados left and talk becomes a little more, shall we say, refined. OK, maybe not refined but certainly far less of 'Federer is Nadal's bitch, Nadal is the GOAT' etc etc.
Don't let anybody tell you that these smaller tournaments are not worth trading. It's absolute garbage, usually said by people who simply don't know the players names. Obviously, the quality of tennis is not going to match what you see in a Grand Slam event but that's no different to any sport. Do serious football traders ignore The Championship because they don't like the standard? Of course not! In fact, many will tell you that the best opportunities lie in the lower leagues, where people have less info and know less about what they are doing in the market. I can tell you for a fact that finding value is easier in these smaller events for the exact same reason.
One example was Dusan Lajovic v Matteo Viola. Lajovic was odds on fave and traded sub-1.2 when he went ahead in set 1. Yet Viola is not only ranked 50 places ahead of him but BEAT Lajovic only two weeks ago at the Australian Open! The only reason I can think Lajovic was priced so low was because he was playing in Croatia and maybe people got his nationality muddled up (he's Serbian, hardly likely to be a home favourite in Zagreb!). Or maybe his indoor record compared to Viola might've been seen as favourable but as Matteo beat him on a hard court, that makes little sense either (and their records aren't that different actually). Viola won 2-0.
Anyway, my point is, if you make the effort to know more than everyone else, the opportunities are there. The standard of the tennis is completely irrelevant. What difference does it make if you are seeing beautifully constructed rallies with stupendous winners smoking the lines like a speeding bullet? If you are entering the market because of the shot selections of a player, then you are entering for the wrong reasons. OK, you can argue it's easier to read a game if the quality is higher, as there are less mistakes and unforced errors but it's quite rare that two players play terribly at the same time. Besides, what the markets are doing is far more important than what the players are. There wasn't even a stream at all for that Lajovic-Viola game.
As long as you can get matched (rarely an issue on any televised tennis match plus, if you 'make' the market, it's still easy to get matched at value) and you are not going in blind, it doesn't matter if they are shanking every other ball into the net. It may be more fun watching Nadal and Djokovic battling it out like unearthly warriors but that doesn't mean you are any more likely to make money (unless you are playing around with huge figures and if you are, why the hell are you reading this?! Get back on your yacht!).
Besides, people speak as if there is no good tennis played at 250 level. Already this week there's been Davydenko, Youzhny, Almagro, Melzer, Baghdatis, Gasquet - some of the finest players to grace the ATP not only currently but EVER. And it's not as though the lesser players never play good matches. It's very easy to compare Lajovic v Viola with Murray v Djokovic and have a good old laugh but very few players have ever produced tennis as good as those semi-finals at the Australian Open.
I used to hear the same things said about the lesser leagues of European football, when I was a soccer trader but I've said it before and I'll say it again - I'm trading for the money, not for the buzz. Therefore, it makes no difference if it's the best or worst match in the world. The markets still tend to react the same way no matter who's playing.
OFF-COURT BEAUTY: World number 8, Russia's Vera Zvonareva: