Understanding How Player's Motivation Can Affect Your Tennis Picks

João Mourato

Wednesday, December 2, 2015 7:57 PM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015 7:57 PM UTC

When analyzing a tennis match, is crucial to understand several factors. On this article we'll focus our attention on how motivation can affect a player's performance, particularly the top 25 players on lower events.

As we already mentioned in previous articles, tennis has some specific features and one of them is being an individual sport. There is a huge difference in the analysis of an individual sports like tennis when compared to team sports. On this article we’ll examine one of the most important factors when analyzing a tennis match: Motivation.

In contrast to team sports, tennis players are all alone on court and can only rely on themselves. There is no other player to pass the ball or someone in the bench to replace them, the only option for a tennis player is to find a way to overcome the opponent. However, the season is extremely long and is not possible for a player to keep a high consistent level during 11 straight months.

Before the season begins, players have already established their schedule for the whole year and their main goal is to reach the biggest tournaments at 100%. There are four tournament categories on ATP (men’s tour):


Grand Slams – Most important tournaments with 2000 points for the winner. There are four events during the year.

Masters – The winner collects 1000 points on the nine ATP 1000 Masters played during the year. There is also the ATP World Tour Finals in November where the champion earns 1300 points.

ATP 500 – There are thirteen events on this category and, as the name says, the winner takes 500 points.

ATP 250 – This is the most common tournament level on tour with 39 events played in five continents and 250 points for the winner.


After exploring the several tournament categories, is quite obvious that players tend to focus on higher level events in order to collect more points. Players outside top 25 have few chances on higher level tournaments and for that reason they are usually extremely motivated for ATP 250 & 500. On the other hand, the top 25 players have other priorities and that’s where we’ll focus our motivation analysis.

There are several key questions to be answered whenever a top 25 player competes on an ATP 250 & 500. Is crucial to understand the reasons for his presence, his plan for the next week and also his previous record on that event. Is also important to mention that these players usually receive an appearance fee to play this tournaments.

Let’s understand better this situation with an example. Earlier this year, Feliciano Lopez competed at Estoril Open, an ATP 250 event played in Portugal. The Spaniard was ranked as the world no. 12 and was the 1st seeded player in his first appearance at Estoril since 2007. Adding to this, Feliciano’s next tournament was in Madrid – an ATP 1000 event played in his home town, where Feliciano had 180 points to defend for reaching quarterfinals in 2014. Lastly, Madrid is played in altitude and as we saw in our weather article, it takes time to adjust to those conditions.

Result? Feliciano Lopez lost in his first match against Robin Haase.

In fact, Lopez is a perfect example of a player whose main motivation are the higher level tournaments, while his performance on lower events is quite poor. Another player known for tanking (name given when a player loses a game due to lack of effort) is Bernard Tomic, world no. 18. Here are some numbers about Lopez and Tomic’s profitability in 2015, according to tournament level:


Grand Slams & ATP 1000

ATP 250 & ATP 500

Bernard Tomic



Feliciano Lopez




We can therefore conclude that is crucial to understand a player’s motivation when analyzing the betting odds to your tennis betting picks. Whenever you see a top 25 player competing on a lower level event never forget the three questions: 1) Why is he there? 2) Which plans does he have for the following week? 3) What is his previous record on this event?

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