June 24, 2010

Tireless tennis

After a bit of water-cooler chat today at work, I had planned to spend part of my evening working out the probability of the crazy Wimbledon match that saw John Isner win a marathon match against Nicolas Mahut, after the tie-breaker went 138 games and had Isner prevail 70-68.

I got home to find not one but two well-presented analyses that tackle the question, so my work would be redundant. Thus I present the following links for your reading pleasure:

1. Carl Bialik, "Isner Fitting Winner of Marathon Wimbledon Match", Wall Street Journal

2. Phil Birnbaum, "What were the odds of the 70-68 score at Wimbledon?", Sabermetric Research. (Birnbaum graciously acknowledges Bialik's article in an appended post-post foreward.)

The final summary: this was a one-in-a-million (give or take, depending on some of the assumptions) event.

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