Watching the 2010 Men’s Wimbledon final between Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych a powerful observation hit home. In fact it hit me before the final even started.
In the lead up to the final I rated Nadal as a strong favourite but still gave Berdych a fighting chance.
In particular however the big question mark for mine on Berdych was how he would handle the enormous pressure that comes with being in not only his first ever slam final, but at the world most prestigious tennis tournament Wimbledon.
Then vision of Berdych and Nadal walking through the famous corridors of the All England Club leading up to Centre Court appeared.
The contrast between the two could not have been any more glaringly different! Berdych in his first ever slam final was stiff, looked unfocused and generally not sure of himself. Nadal on the other hand was jumping around, had a tennis racquet in his hand, was mentally practising his shots and look ready for a rumble.
Nadal looked the winner before a ball had even been hit in anger, in fact I was now 99% confident that he would win. All due to witnessing the difference in pre game body language.
Before I had turned the TV on, my personal feel gave Nadal a 70 to 75% chance. But Nadal had opened with most bookies at around the odds of around $1.33, with Berdych at round $3.50. Neither was at value odds, and hence it was not worth backing either at those odds. (Click here for calculating value and implied probability).
However with Nadal’s superior body language, he suddenly represented very good value, and well worth backing.
The take home lesson is just important body language can be, and how being aware of even minor clues could be hugely beneficial. While I believe I have always been subconsciously aware of looking at various player’s demeanour, I have never been deliberately on the lookout for it.
Obviously it is not a full proof method of baseing you’re betting on, but every little bit helps. It could be that extra dimension and edge that makes the difference on yout betting return, especially if few others are noticing it.
It's something I will delve further into over the hard court season in the lead up to the US Open, I’ll keep you informed of what I discover.