Saturday, 23 June 2012

Wimbledon 2012

This Wimbledon, I am not bothering with outright winner suggestions, as I am not getting involved in any market other than match odds in-play. What I thought I'd do instead, is to give a list of players who are ones to watch out for. This will be based on how good they are on grass and current form. Starting with the men, I don't really need to say it yet again but I will anyway: Djokovic or Nadal will win. Federer has an outside chance (always a better chance of beating the top 2 seeds on grass). Murray is a long shot (his form is poor and his draw is tough) but I would never discount him because he is good enough on his day. Berdych, Del Potro, Isner and Tsonga will all have a chance to reach the semis and may even cause an upset (remember Tsonga beat Federer last year). If you are looking for an outsider who might do well, here are my choices:

David Nalbandian
Nicolas Mahut
Xavier Malisse
Andy Roddick
Marin Cilic
Tommy Haas
Yen-Hsun Lu
Edouard Roger-Vasselin
Phillip Kohlschreiber
Mikhael Youzhny
Benoit Paire

Kohlschreiber and Haas are drawn together in round one but the winner could go far. Kohli beat Nadal in Halle 2 weeks ago and Haas beat Federer in the final. Cilic won Queen's thanks to David Nalbandian's linesman shinning. Nalbandian faces Janko Tipsarevic, which is one of the matches of the round, so he may not last long. Roddick won Eastbourne and is showing signs of life after 3 months in the doldrums. The others on the list are in form and have a knack for performing on grass. Someone like Feliciano Lopez, Michael Llodra, Richard Gasquet or Bernard Tomic could do well on grass though (unlike the above list) none have shown decent form on grass coming into Wimbledon. If you are looking for a real wild-card to provide an upset, keep an eye on Benoit Paire - an exciting, enigmatic, prodigiousy talented young Frenchman who almost beat (and largely outplayed) David Ferrer on grass in s-Hertogenbosch this week.

The women as always, present a lot more interest. After her terrible display at Roland Garros, you can expect Serena Williams to be even more fired up and she will be the one to beat. Defending champion Petra Kvitova is amongst a number of top 10 players who have either played no grass-court matches yet or lost in an early round of a grass court event. She lost to Makarova at Eastbourne, her only match on grass. Sharapova, Williams, Azarenka and Li haven't played at all, which I find remarkable. How can you go into a major tournament without playing for 2 whole weeks and with zero acclimatisation to grass? It's a massive risk in my opinion and don't be surprised if these girls get troubled in round one.

Kim Clijsters is back and she reached the semis in s-Hertogenbosch before retiring (purely to save herself for Wimbledon). She's missed the entire clay court season and from what I saw this week, will not be winning Wimbledon. As she has been for a while now, the Belgian is very erratic. One moment she looks a world beater, the next, she throws her serve away in double-quick time with the most extraordinary errors. She could easily go all the way but I just think 3 months out is too long when you have the likes of Sharapova with the consistent form she's shown, in your way. It has to be Maria or Serena for the title, with Kvitova and Azarenka both dropping off in form in recent months. Sharapova has a much tougher quarter of the draw than Williams though, so that would give Serena the edge.

Can anyone pose a serious threat as a dark-horse? Well, I believe so. Marion Bartoli absolutely loves grass and she looked in great nick at Eastbourne till she pulled out of her semi with an injury. Hopefully it's not too bad because it's not beyond the realms of possibility that she could win the whole thing. Angelique Kerber almost won her 3rd title of the year in the Eastbourne final (she squandered 5 match points against Paszek) and continues her amazing rise up the ranks in 2012 to become a genuine contender at any grand slam event. I don't see anyone else potentially lifting the trophy but there are a few players who come alive on grass and may well run deep or cause an upset:

Tsvetana Pironkova
Melanie Oudin
Nadia Petrova
Ekaterina Makarova
Tamira Paszek
Venus Williams
Urszula Radwanska
Petra Cetkovska
Dominica Cibulkova

Petrova in particular, is a danger on grass and has just won s-Hertogenbosch, looking in her best form for years. She's top 10 quality and can knock out absolutely anyone, though whether she can focus mentally for 2 whole weeks is another matter. Melanie Oudin won Birmingham recently, showing consistent form out of nowhere after a couple of torrid years. She's due to meet Petrova in round 2. Tamira Paszek beat Kerber in the Eastbourne final and do not be surprised if she knocks Caroline Wozniacki (who continues to lose to lower ranked, bigger hitters, getting taught a lesson by Christina McHale last week) out in round 1. I tipped her last year and she reached the quarters.

Tsvetana Pironkova only seems to bother playing at Wimbledon! The last 2 years she's had great runs whilst the rest of the year, she struggles to string two wins together. Sharapova awaits in round 2 though so.......... Ekaterina Makarova continues to upset the big names (beating Kvitova last week) and is always under-rated in the slams despite picking off big scalps. Kerber awaits in round 2 though! Venus suffers from this disease where she doesn't know whether she will be struggling with lack of energy from one day to the next but if she is feeling fine, Wimbledon is the one event where she could pick off a few scalps. Radwanska should meet her in round 2, which promises to be a cracker. The winner could go very deep, as it's a weak quarter. Petra Cetkovska had a brilliant run last year and I expect her to lift her game with all the points she has to defend.

Of the other top ladies, you can write off Sam Stosur immediately. She was soundly beaten by Kirsten Flipkens last week. Flipkens ranking may be low but she knows how to play on grass, unlike the Aussie. Stosur does have an easy quarter on paper but I think she'll be upset by someone. I always seem to mention Kuznetsova, Ivanovic, Jankovic and Goerges but they always let me down and I don't expect anything of them on grass. Jankovic faces Clijsters in round one anyway, the tie of the round. Sara Errani is top 10 now (incredibly) but you've no chance of seeing her in a non-clay final.

Sabine Lisicki would normally be one to watch on this surface but her form is so bad, she went out in round one of the tournament she was defending champion in - Birmingham, last week. Agnieszka Radwanska also has lost form lately, though her little sister Urszula is in the best form of her short career (losing to Petrova in the s-Hertogenbosh final and winning a challenger event in Nottingham) and may just carry these great grass displays into Wimbledon. Dominica Cibulkova cannot be discounted for a good run, although the Slovakian was hammered by Petrova this week. She has a lot of points to defend as she reached the quarters last year.

It should be a fantastic tournament, weather permitting. It's been wet for weeks in England and Eastbourne, Birmingham and Queen's all suffered from sporadic rain and disrupted schedules. So if you are going to get involved, be prepared to wait for long periods. Having patience to trade during the grass court season is a real skill and you simply have to be ready for anything, especially as it's common for matches to swing the other way after a long break in play. You've been warned!

Elena Vesnina:

Monday, 18 June 2012

Nalbandian Attacks Line-Judge!

OK, he didn't actually attack the line-judge but the way some people over-reacted on Twitter to yesterday's incredible incident in the Queen's Club final, you'd think that he had! If you haven't seen it yet, check it out:

Nalbandian Attacks Line-Judge!

I have to admit, it's one of those incidents that gets worse every time you see it but it was quite obviously unintentional harm that was done to the line-judge. Basically, all that happened was that Nalbandian in a fit of rage at his own ineptitude, kicked a plank of wood into a man's leg and gave him a bit of a cut. To be fair, it looked quite nasty but the guy will live and let's face it, he'll be dining out on that story for the rest of his life! So to cancel the rest of the final by disqualifying the Argentine, seemed a bit over-the-top, to me.

I'm not for one minute condoning what Nalbandian did. He's always been a bit of an arse, has a bad temper on him and strikes me as a thoroughly miserable individual. How he thought that the advertising hoarding was strong enough to withstand a full-force kick is beyond comprehension more than anything else! He deserved punishment for sending the line-judge hobbling off for treatment (though not to hospital). But on this particular occasion, is it fair to the hundreds of paying customers to have their day out ruined by a moment of madness? There was still a long way to go in the match, with just one set completed, so it seems a bit harsh to end a showpiece final so abruptly. Of course, if those are the rules, then those are the rules and Nalbandian should know them before he steps on court but that doesn't mean the rules are right. I am thinking purely about the crowd. Could Nalbandian not just have been allowed to play on and been sanctioned afterwards? Or better still, could he not have had a few games deducted or even the second set awarded to Cilic and go straight to a third? If he'd genuinely attacked the line-judge then of course, game over and also if he was seriously injured, but for a grazed shin? It wasn't a bloody Cantona kung-fu assault!

The crowd were in uproar and even went as far as booing during the very awkward post-match interview with the winner, Marin Cilic. Clearly, most of them didn't see the incident properly because there was no justification for that reaction, however, I understand their disappointment, especially as no one got on the microphone to properly explain what happened. The interview with Nalbandian himself did leave a bitter taste in the mouth though. He apologised but with the caveat that the rules were rubbish (shrugging his shoulders when asked if he should be allowed to continue playing) and then launched an attack on the ATP! A very inappropriate time to do this and really, he should have accepted his punishment and slunk home in disgrace. I felt that he only said that because he judged the mood of the crowd to perfection and rather slyly, knew that he'd get a good response - which he did. The crowd cheered him and chanted for the match to be continued. I think the match should have continued but beforehand, the crowd shown a replay of the incident - then they could boo Nalbandian instead!

From a trading point of view, I was fortunate I was listening to commentators on the BBC who knew the rules because I certainly didn't! As soon as they mentioned Nalbandian was likely to be disqualified, I exited for a small loss. I'm sure many people didn't and got burnt, as both players were trading at around evens when it happened. There were a lot of lays at sub-1.3 (where the price stagnated for a few minutes), hoping that the market was over-reacting but in that situation, if you don't know the rules, you are better off just staying out.

The ATP have fined Nalbandian the maximum amount of 10,000 Euros today, which is a drop in the ocean for someone with career earnings of over $10 million, though I think fair enough. I guess you can't really change the rules mid-game but I would like to see a more flexible approach in future when there are paying customers involved, so that different situations can be taken into account. So whilst I think Nalbandian deserves punishment, I don't see why he had to be disqualified and everyone's day ruined. And if you think that the line-judge shouldn't have had his day ruined either, well he'll be fine - as someone on Twitter reminded me, his phone will be red hot with calls: 'Have you had an accident or injury at work? We can help with your claim!'..........

UPDATE: Apparently, a complaint has been made to the police and they are looking into a case for assault!! What the hell is the world coming to?! I told you someone would be out for compensation.............

Mandy Minella:

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Cheers Nadal!

Payback time! Rafa Nadal's exit from Halle yesterday (his second match since winning The French Open) has more than made up for him scuppering my outright winner bet on Djokovic at Roland Garros. The world number one started his quarter final against Phillip Kohlschreiber at 1.17. Under normal circumstances this price was about right (if anything, I would have expected it to be slightly lower) but the market didn't seem to have a clue about the extenuating circumstances. It was yet another example of people blindly backing a big name player. This market shows that if you really do your research and take the time to fully understand the world tour and to know more than the average punter, you can have a significant edge. To be honest, even I was surprised at the lack of knowledge that this market displayed, collectively.  I was expecting to see a price of at least 1.3, taking into  account the following reasons:

1. Nadal had won Roland Garros just 4 days earlier
2. He'd said in a press conference that he was so tired that he didn't think he could last another 3 hours on court
3. He traditionally does quite badly the week following The French Open, getting knocked out early at Queen's (where he usually plays) several times in recent years
4. It was only his second match on grass this year and a tough transition to make from the slowest surface (clay) to the quickest
5. Kohlschreiber is German and playing in front of a home crowd and had already played a couple of matches, so was better acclimatised. He also won Halle last year.

When you consider all of the above, 1.17 is clearly ludicrous. I would've had the price much closer to evens and it wasn't even a close contest  in the end, the German winning 6-3 6-4. Laying was a no-brainer and the result, to me, was not a surprise, yet as I scanned Twitter at the end of the match, I saw that it was full of comments displaying shock at the outcome. Phillip Kohlschreiber even trended worldwide, such was the popularity of this bit of 'amazing' news!

So it just goes to show that in the tennis markets, there are a lot of people who do not really put in a great deal of research or thought into their bets. So although I have to thank Rafa (who appeared to have his body and mind on a fishing boat off the coast of Mallorca rather than the tennis court), as a trader we should never forget that we don't make money purely because of what the players do, we make money because of what other people in the market do. I think this is something that many traders do not understand, instead thinking that it is all about pre-empting what the players are going to do. That is only part of the equation though and  if you aren't considering what your competitors (and that is what every other trader is) are likely to do too, then you are going to struggle in the long run.

Sabine Lisicki:

Monday, 11 June 2012

Damn You, Nadal!

So Novak Djokovic didn't quite manage to make a complete mockery of the 1.33 Rafa Nadal started the French Open final at but he did enough to show that it was a very poor price. I layed SP and as I said in my previous post, if Nadal broke first, he would be low enough (1.12) to lay again and I duly did so early in set 1. Just 5 games later, Novak pulled it back to 3-3 and I could've greened up for a small amount. I was never going to exit that early though, as I still fancied Djokovic to win. I have to admit, at 2 sets down I had given up and switched over to the football! But the Serb pulled off 8 games in a row to pull back the 3rd set and go a break up in the 4th. Because of the second lay, I was now able to green up for 75% of my liability. However, Djokovic was so on top, I decided to wait and go for more - then play was suspended. Under the damp conditions, Nadal was losing the plot and who knows what would have happened if the rain had let up. But I had a nasty feeling Nadal would benefit most from the break in play and exited the market for 50% - not a bad day's work. I decided to keep my 'outright winner' bet running, as it was just a small stake but as I expected, Nadal had regained his focus the next day and thoroughly deserved the win.

Djokovic was simply outplayed for most of this match, which to be honest, I didn't expect. But it was never going to be a straight sets win (as many were predicting) so I just 'knew' the price was going to at the very least, shift enough to allow me to scratch my initial trade. However, the second lay allowed me the chance to make some good profit with very little extra risk. To get the same amount of green by backing Nadal at 1.33 to the end of the match, I would've needed more than DOUBLE the liability and would've been sweating a lot in set 4, maybe even having to scratch or red up as the price went out 30 ticks from SP - not a situation where many traders can afford to sit and do nothing.

So what have I learnt from the European clay swing? I've learnt (finally!) how to properly trade a Grand Slam event, patiently. I've learnt that I'm not quite ready to start trading outright winner markets seriously and to be honest, I really don't need to start diversifying just yet. I've learnt that clay court tennis suits my strategy better than any other surface and this is where I need to focus most each year.

Anyway, that's it for the clay court season and it's now onto the grass for the next month, culminating with Wimbledon. I've mentioned before that I don't want to change anything until this grass swing is over because I want to be certain my strategy will hold up well on this surface. I'm confident it will but there's no harm in waiting a few more weeks for peace of mind. After that, it's time to look at upping those stakes, which will be the first time I've done that in 2 years! I've only been reducing stake sizes over the last 2 years, so it's gonna be rather strange!

Ana Ivanovic:

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The Biggest Value Price I've Seen All Year!

Do my eyes deceive me? Rafa Nadal is 1.33 to beat Novak Djokovic in tomorrow's French Open final. I have never come onto this blog and written that I feel a price is great value for an individual match before. It's just not something I do, partly because I rarely get involved pre-match but also because it would have to be something very, very special for me to do so. Quite simply, it is very rare to find SP value at any price under evens in a  tennis match, never mind one of the biggest matches of the year. So when I casually browsed through the Roland Garros final prices on Betunfair, my jaw almost hit the ground! 1.33??!!

This reminds me of the Wimbledon final last year, where Nadal started at something ridiculous like 1.5 before he was trounced by the Serb. OK, there is a big difference with this final. Firstly, Nadal is on his favourite surface and Djokovic on his least favourite. Secondly, Djokovic is not quite the invincible player he was in 2011 and has stuttered at times (in fact, in almost every game) on the run to this year's final. Thirdly, Nadal is in much better shape, cruising through without even dropping a set. And finally, Nadal has beaten Novak in two recent clay court events, both in straight sets. So I don't dispute that Nadal should be favourite for this match. But 1.33? There are some seriously misguided backers out there, in my opinion.

My case for a lay of Nadal is as follows. Firstly, Djokovic has beaten Nadal on clay twice before; both last year, both in finals, both in straight sets. Secondly, Djokovic may have dropped sets and struggled in earlier rounds but when it came to the toughest opponent of all, he breezed past Federer in straight sets. And he'll be more match hardened and confident he can come from behind, whereas Nadal has had it easy - I would say, TOO easy. Thirdly (as I mentioned in a previous post) Nadal beat Djokovic this year in Monte Carlo and Rome. But in the former, Djokovic was clearly not mentally focused due to the death of his grandfather and in the latter, he really should have won. Novak bossed most of the Rome final but messed up on key points with very uncharacteristic errors. Anyone who watched that final must be licking their lips at this ridiculous 1.33 on offer - I know I am!

I do of course, have an outright bet on Djokovic to win (placed during the Seppi match), so I am slightly biased as to who I want to win. Even so, I had no intention of getting involved in the match at all until I saw that price. Even if Nadal takes the first set, the price is so short it won't hurt me and I can guarantee you that Djokovic will take at least one set. In fact, Nadal is probably worth a second lay if he does take the first. There is also a very strong chance that the market will correct itself after just a few games, especially if Djokovic is troubling Rafa's serve - the price could shift by tens of ticks without even a break of serve. And if Djokovic does get the first break, you can expect the market to start panicking and possibly be able to green up immediately for a good sized green - though I won't be doing any such thing!

In my opinion, the correct price should be a lot closer to evens. Djokovic's year is all about Roland Garros. He owns all the other slams and doesn't give a toss about Masters 1000s. This is the one match he's been gearing up for in 2012. He has such self-belief that it doesn't matter if he is match points down to Tsonga or 2 sets down to Seppi. He knows he can win a game against these players from ANY position. No, Djokovic saves his very best for the very big games and this is the biggest of his life - the one which could put him in the Pantheon of all time greats. He will surely not mess up the way he did in Rome and I think he will achieve the Grand Slam of Grand Slams on Sunday. But even if he doesn't I will stand by my belief that 1.33 is the best value price you will see all year in a major tennis match.

N.B. Quick word on the women. If you are backing Sharapova at sub 1.3, you are crazy. If she doesn't win, I'll shave my balls with a butcher's knife but there is zero value at that price. I expect Errani will start brightly, as if she falls behind, she's finished, so there's always a chance of backing Sharapova higher.

Here's the woman herself:

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

What a match! What a day! What a tournament! What a sport!

Roland Garros 2012 has officially, for me personally, gone down as the most enjoyable tennis tournament I've ever watched. Yesterday cemented it as The Sultan's all time fave, with 3 engrossing matches, 2 of which will go down amongst the best of the year. I don't think any player other than Novak Djokovic would have dug himself out of the hole they were in against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Saving 5 match points spread over a couple of games and coming back from 2 sets to 1 down, he defeated an inspired opponent, who it seemed was getting all the breaks. Yet no matter how often Tsonga painted the lines, got the lucky net-chord or came up with the big ace, Djokovic hung in there stoically and kept alive the dream of holding a Grand Slam of Grand Slams.

He also kept my dream alive too because he is my last hope of winning anything in the outright winner market! I took him in an earlier round when he was in deep trouble (against Seppi), and so got a decent price on him which will net me a healthy green if he does win The French Open. Angelique Kerber's loss to Sara Errani (another of the top quality matches played yesterday) means that my final outsider bet has gone. A shame because I was ready to green-up and cash-out if she reached the semi-final but didn't reckon on yet another inspired performance from the (annoying) little Italian.

The women's tournament has been just as brilliant as the men's, though for different reasons. Of course, the quality of the men's matches has been better but the ladies have produced some matches which, although not always easy on the eye, have been extremely high on drama. With genuine contenders Azarenka, Serena Williams and Li Na all being knocked out in big shocks, Sharapova given a serious run for her money and Wozniacki, Jankovic, Bartoli, Lisicki and Schiavone all dumped out by much lower ranked players, Roland Garros has shown just how much depth there now is in the women's game. As someone who has watched closely for the last 2 years, there is no doubt at all that not only is the depth getting stronger but there are a number of youngsters coming through (such as Barthel, Kerber, Garcia, Halep, Watson, McHale and Sloane Stephens, who had a brilliant tournament) who will go to the very top and in the next few years, hopefully bring back the sort of stars we had in the WTA ten years ago.

But it's the men's game which continues to beguile, as we speak of this 'golden era' of tennis. Federer's fightback from 2 sets down against Juan Martin Del Potro, was yet another classic 5 setter to go along with several over the past week. I do feel privileged to be watching tennis regularly during this period. When I first started trading tennis, I had barely watched a match in its full entirety since I was a kid. I was massively into Wimbledon back then (during the Becker, Sampras, Lendl, Agassi, Chang, Edberg era) but in the UK, it was quite rare to get any tennis coverage other than those 2 weeks. Occasionally, the BBC might pick up The French Open but it certainly wasn't a regular thing. As I got older, I lost my passion for the game and even during Wimbledon, would rarely watch a match.

I was a football trader during that epic Wimbledon final in 2008, between Federer and Nadal. So little was I bothered about that match, that I missed almost the whole of what is still seen today as the greatest match of all time. And what was I doing during that final? Trading some obscure pre-season football friendly! It was only a few messages on the Betfair football forum giving glowing references about the amazing tennis being played, that made me switch it on. That was the last Wimbledon that I have ignored. I've traded every one since and tennis has become an obsession for me. From knowing just a handful of players and pretty much nothing about the WTA and ATP circuits, I now love the sport as much as I love football. In fact, I probably love it even more, seeing as how my team (Nottingham Forest) have been second rate for the last 15 years and the 'beautiful game' has become so dirtied by money, cheating, glory-hunters and ridiculous governing at the top end. But that's for another post! Right now, we should all be basking in the brilliance of the French Open and of tennis as a sport. And if my trading continues to advance the way it has been, switching from the big white ball to the little yellow one could well be one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Gisela Dulko:

Monday, 4 June 2012

Serena (C)Rap

Check out dis sick track from ma girl Serena Williams, yo:

Serena Williams - 'I Win' 

Wiv rhymes like dis, 'I Win' is da shiz:

"I cook the track up like a frozen pizza, beats so crazy it might blow your speakers"

"I make a lotta money but that ain't your business"

"On the court I serve em up, no subpoena"

OK, enough! I'm no rap connoisseur but it's pretty meaningless, cliched stuff, thrown over a lame, simplistic track. That said, I don't think she has done it with any serious intent on making a record - seems like just a bit of fun in a mate's studio, probably cooked up as quickly as that frozen pizza. And it's really not much worse than half the rubbish churned out commercially for the masses.

However, it says a lot in my eyes that the lyrics are all about money and bravado (though I suppose that also encompasses 90% of all rap music). Although I respect her achievements and what she's done for the game, she has on many occasions exhibited unsporting, overly-aggressive and spoilt behaviour both on and off court. There's no doubt at all that she perceives herself as the most important woman in tennis and that this entitles her to do as she pleases.  She's always the first to complain if she doesn't get the court she wants to be on or if the practise facilities aren't up to her standards. Should take a leaf out of Federer's book, a legend who only ever exhibits class and humility. Or maybe I'm just still upset that she ruined my Novak/Serena double! She bloody well should have been subpoenaed for throwing away a match from a set and 5-1 up in the tie-break!

Well, I've pretty much run out of new off-court beauties to add to my posts. Not a bad run though. I found over 6 months worth of hot tennis stars - I even surprised myself! Will be adding some of my favourites to each post from now on, starting with Dominica Cibulkova, who put up another feisty display to beat Victoria Azarenka at the French Open:

Friday, 1 June 2012

May: The Results

Almost halfway through Roland Garros and the drama continues! Andy Murray did his usual party-trick of getting injured before deciding to play his best tennis. It's not the first time he's done this (in fact at The French Open last year, he did the exact same thing when he injured his leg yet came from behind to beat Michael Berrer) which begs the question: why does he wait until he's injured to play his most solid, aggressive tennis? Time and time again, he shows that he has a big enough game to over-power most players but only ever brings out this side when in dire trouble or against the top 3. He'd surely make these early rounds a lot easier for himself (and in turn, the latter stages) if he blew the likes of Jarko Nieminen away in straight sets, instead of wasting time and energy playing defensive tennis and having to come from behind.

And then we had a mini-marathon for John Isner again, only this time, he came out on the losing end of a 5 set, 18-16 match against Paul-Henri Mathieu. The match lasted 5 hours and 41 minutes but despite his previous 11 hour Wimbledon experience, it was Isner who suffered the most from exhaustion as the Frenchman went through. Both matches produced great drama and excitement in what is fast becoming a vintage French Open already.

I dipped my toe tentatively into the Murray game but felt it best to get out and stay out in the end. I wasn't brave enough to lay Nieminen at sub-1.10, as the game in all honesty looked over, with Murray limping around, barely able to serve. Even the ITV commentators and Murray's own entourage were begging him to retire and save himself from the madness of wrecking his back further! Comical stuff in hindsight, though it has to be said, Nieminen should have walked the second set and I'm certain Murray would never have got back into it. Instead, the Fin did exactly what Berrer did in 2011 - shot himself in the foot. Both completely dominated until Murray was injured, then didn't know how to react when he changed gameplan and started swinging for the lines. Nieminen was clearly expecting the hand-shake at any moment and when it didn't come, he lost the plot.

This sort of thing happens more frequently than you might think. I remember getting stung by Janko Tipsarevic last year in the final of Delray Beach. Juan Martin Del Potro (still lacking matches on his comeback after injury) almost completely stopped chasing after any balls that weren't within arms length and concentrated solely on his service games. Tipsarevic was playing well until fatigue got the better of the Argentinian. At that point, the Serb completely lost all sense of awareness. He was no longer the under-dog and the pressure got to him, as he started playing terribly. This combined with Del Potro now concentrating harder on his serve and not giving anything away, eventually wrestled the title away from Tipsarevic's grasp.

I also remember Fabio Fognini coming from behind to beat Albert Montanes at the French Open last year. Fognini was on his last legs with cramp, so started swinging on every ball. He was hitting winners left, right and centre, barely moving, just stand and deliver stuff. Montanes didn't have a clue what to do and threw a game away that he was winning comfortably. Fortunately for me, I learnt from the Delray Beach final and when I saw what was happening, got on Fognini at great value. I know from bitter experience that many traders will have got burnt by backing Nieminen at low odds today and it just goes to show, yet again, that it's just not worth it in the long run. I'm not saying lay at every opportunity but sometimes, it's just better not to get involved. And it's that sort of attitude which has enabled me to have a fourth consecutive winning month and again, smash my previous profit record from April:

So what next for June? Well, after Roland Garros it's the start of the month long grass court season. I have decided I want to play it safe and not up my stakes till after Wimbledon. That's purely because grass is a whole new ball-game and the markets as well the actual matches, are slightly different (particularly for the men) and so I want to make sure that my strategy holds up well with the changes. If I continue with my consistency I've shown this year, then in July, it will be time to take things to another level.........