Statisticians Cut The Tennis Commentators Down To Size

June 24, 1998

The strawberries are overpriced and the British players are destined always to be gallant losers. But that's where the truth ends as far as Wimbledon clichés are concerned, say Dutch academics who have analysed scoring patterns from four successive years' play at the world's most prestigious tennis tournament.

Jan Magnus and Franc Klaassen, experts in economic statistical analysis at Tilburg University, have analysed nearly 90,000 points from 481 matches played at Wimbledon between 1992 and 1995. Their work has given the truisms of tennis a real pounding, and should give the television pundits covering this year's tournament pause for thought.

Magnus and Klaassen have found that players are not more likely to fluff a point immediately after serving a double fault. And though new balls may be faster, they don't offer the server a clear advantage. Nor is it true that the player who serves first is more likely to win a set.

"The inspiration came from my irritation at the outpourings of the so-called experts on TV," says Magnus, a keen fan and player as well as a statistician.

One of the most frequently expressed maxims says players are more likely to lose a service game straight after breaking an opponent's serve--perhaps because they relax a little or rest on their laurels after breaking. The figures dispel this idea. If anything, players are slightly more likely to hold their own service game after breaking their opponent.

"In the game following a break, it is not true that the winner takes it a bit easier and the loser tries a bit harder. Apparently what happens is just the opposite," says Magnus.

Author: Michael Day

PLEASE MENTION NEW SCIENTIST AS THE SOURCE OF THIS ARTICLE.
-end-


New Scientist

Related Game Articles from Brightsurf:

Researchers exploit weaknesses of master game bots
Researchers at Penn State designed an algorithm to train an adversarial bot, which was able to automatically discover and exploit weaknesses of master game bots driven by reinforcement learning algorithms.

Leaving money on the table to stay in the game
Unlike businesses or governments, organisms can't go into evolutionary debt -- there is no borrowing one's way back from extinction.

A memory game could help us understand brain injury
A Boston University team created a memory game for mice in order to examine the function of two different brain areas that process information about the sensation of touch and the memory of previous events.

Is video game addiction real?
A recent six-year study, the longest study ever done on video game addiction, found that about 90% of gamers do not play in a way that is harmful or causes negative long-term consequences.

Kids eat more calories in post-game snacks than they burn during the game
A new study led by Brigham Young University public health researchers finds the number of calories kids consume from post-game snacks far exceeds the number of calories they actually burn playing in the game.

Can exercise improve video game performance?
Time spent playing video games is often seen as time stolen from physical activities.

Computer game may help to predict reuse of opioids
A computer betting game can help predict the likelihood that someone recovering from opioid addiction will reuse the pain-relieving drugs, a new study shows.

Get your game face on: Study finds it may help
Could putting on a serious face in preparation for competition actually impact performance?

Game changer: New chemical keeps plants plump
A UC Riverside-led team has created a chemical to help plants hold onto water, which could stem the tide of massive annual crop losses from drought and help farmers grow food despite a changing climate.

Big game hunting for a more versatile catalyst
For the first time, researchers at Harvard University and Cornell University have discovered exactly how a reactive copper-nitrene catalyst works, a finding that could revolutionize how chemical industries produce everything from pharmaceuticals to household goods.

Read More: Game News and Game Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.