You’ve seen my pre-tournament odds for Wimbledon men and women. As more matches go in the books, the numbers change. To keep track, these pages are generated several times per day:
Filed under Forecasting, Wimbledon
So what about Rosol? Is he a black swan, a late developer, or something else? Statistically speaking, how often can someone who was eliminated five times in Round 1 of the Wimbledon qualifiers have gone on to knock out the second seed in such sensational manner? Is this enough to make any sports statistician give up and turn to needlework?
I can’t speak for all sports statisticians, but as for me, I like uncertainty, so needlework is safe for now.
Ultimately, anyone in the top 100 (or probably top 300) can beat anybody else, on any given day. Of course, they usually won’t, but for instance, apparently the pre-match betting odds on Rosol were ~1.5%. (Mine were considerably better, but I’m not sure I handle matchups like that very well.) At 1.5%, that should happen once every ~67 times. It would be equally shocking for any of the current top three, probably in either of the first two rounds. So there are six chances for it to happen at every slam, so it “should” happen once every 11 slams, or once every 3 years. And while I can’t back it up, I think the market overvalues the big three a bit.
There are a lot of players like Rosol with very big games — to take another extreme example, Albano Olivetti, who took out Fish earlier this year. Or Jerzy Janowicz, who could beat anybody on a good day. Of course they don’t — that’s how there are a lot of them and why we don’t hear about them — but the skills are there, and they’ll all have a few good/lucky days against tired/injured/distracted/unlucky opponents. Baseball no-hitters might be a good point of comparison — some very pedestrian guys have thrown them, and it certainly doesn’t mean they’ll go undefeated for the rest of the season. Same pitcher, slightly better resume.
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