Wimbledon stats.

I was interested in the impact that the two additional possible sets had on the length of matches in tennis for men. I wondered whether a greater proportion of women’s matches were won in two sets than were men’s matches won in three. So I did some analysis.

My analysis was of Wimbledon 2008 matches, Singles only, excluding matches in which a player retired, and the one in which Dulko beat Davenport who didn’t show due to injury. (Technically, this is apparently called a "walkover.") It excludes tomorrow’s Men’s Final, for obvious reasons, but includes Venus’ win today over Serena. Tie-breakers count for one game, irrespective of length.

Five is 67% higher than three. And the average men’s match lasted 66% 67% games longer than did the ladies’: 37.6 37.8 games for men compared to 22.6 for ladies. The average number of sets for men was 58% higher than that for ladies: 3.7 sets compared to 2.4. 64% of the ladies’ matches were done and dusted in two sets. 47% 46% of the men’s matches were over in three, a further 34% being wrapped up in four, 19% 20% in five.

The fact that a fourth set adds only 33% to the length of the match for men, while a third for ladies adds 50%, reduces the percentage impact for men of games going longer than the minimum distance. But men can expect to play 24% 25% more sets than the minimum, while ladies can only expect to play 18% more.

As you’d expect, the average number of games per set goes up as the number of sets in the match increases. (After all, going further than the minimum distance suggests some evenness of the players’ performances.) 9.4 games in ladies’ two-setters rises to 9.9 in three-setters. For men, 9.8 games for three-setters rises to 10.2 for four-setters, and 10.4 10.5 for matches going the distance.

The longest men’s match was 62 games long, Ancic’s defeat of Verdasco, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 13-11 (odd that the longest match had no tie-breaks). The ladies’ equivalent was 53 games long, Goerges’ win over Srebotnik 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 16-14.

Thanks to Craig Hickman for posting the relevant data.

Update: tonight’s epic win by Nadal over Federer equalled the longest match of the tournament, at 62 games. Taking this match into account, I’ve updated the affected statistics accordingly.

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