New York : Challenging current assumptions, a new research suggests that female tennis players are no less consistent than their male counterparts.
The apparent inconsistency among women players is due to the match format – best of three or five sets – not gender, the findings showed.
“The results suggest that differences in consistency between the women’s and men’s tours are not due to gender, but rather to differences in the format of matches men and women play at the Grand Slam events–Wimbledon and the Australian, French and U.S. Opens,” explained researcher Stephanie Kovalchik, associate statistician with the RAND Corporation, a US-based research organisation.
For her analysis, Kovalchik developed a series of measures of consistency and applied those to performance data for singles match-play on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tours for the 2010 through 2014 seasons.
Of all the measures of consistency Kovalchik examined, half showed no gender differences in performance while the other half suggested female players have had less consistent performances in the seasons considered.
However, these differences were observed only at Grand Slam tournaments, where women play a different match format than males–women play a best-of-three format, where the winner is the first to win two sets; men play a best-of-five, where the winner is the first to win three sets.
Kovalchik examined whether match format could explain the observed tour differences in consistency.
Logic suggests a best-of-five format favours higher-ranked players more than a best-of-three, since it is harder for an underdog to win three sets against a better player than two sets.
Using a mathematical analysis, she quantified the edge a best-of-five format provides.
This calculation revealed that the theoretical win advantage for the higher ranked player in a best-of-five match is seven to 10 percentage points.
The findings were presented at the 2015 Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM 2015) in Seattle, US.