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It seems the Australian Open is the only Grand Slam event in tennis that does not have both men's singles semifinal matches on the same day. This means the man who won his semifinal match on Thursday will have 2 days of rest before the final, and the man who won his semifinal match on Friday will only have 1 day of rest. It would seem that the man who has 2 days of rest would have an advantage, especially if both of the semifinals went 5 sets.

Has there been any analysis or statistics (such as win-loss record) that show that the man with 2 days of rest indeed has an advantage?

  • It's also strange that for the 2019 AO, they put #2 seed Nadal's semifinal on Thursday and #1 seed Djokovic's semifinal on Friday. Why give any possible advantage to the #2 seed instead of the #1 seed? – pacoverflow Jan 24 at 20:00
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Well, after disappointment in finding the useful tennis databases failed to give match dates, decided to slog it out a bit to try to at least get you something slightly useful.

I used date-restricted Google searches (such as this one) and skimmed the news articles results that were known-legitimate publications until coming across articles showing the other semifinal was to be played the next day. And this is what I managed to scrabble together for the finals result (using Wikipedia for result) of those players who got the extra day off by playing the earlier semifinal:

2017: Federer Win
2016: Djokovic Win
2015: Murray Loss
2014: Wawrinka Win
2013: Djokovic Win
2012: Nadal Loss
2011: Djokovic Win
2010: Murray Loss
2009: Federer Loss
2008: Tsonga Loss
2007: Federer Win
2006: Baghdatis Loss
2005: Safin Win
2004: Safin Loss
2003: Agassi Win
2002: Johansson Win
2001: Agassi Win
2000: Agassi Win
1999: Enqvist Loss
1998: Korda Win
1997: Moya Loss

So if I made no mistakes, the extra rest lead the final match series just slightly: 12-9.
A slight advantage shown, but nowhere near statistically significant in that sample size (a binomial 95% confidence interval of winning anywhere from 34%-78%).
So, you'd absolutely need more data before a conclusion can be made. It may seem a hint that it has an impact, but it's quite possible that it has no impact (or even a losing one!)

And, indeed, such a trend could still be masked by seeding, injuries, and a million other things.

If I've run statistics right, it looks like you'd need well over 50 years of data to be able to have much hope of drawing any conclusion even in a large case, and even more if the impact is subtle.

But long story short: it appears all hints so far... is that I'm trending towards basically everything jamauss said!

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    Nice research! It will be also important to know if the first semi-final is seed-influenced or not – Ale Jan 31 '17 at 16:17
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    Interesting to see the outcomes for the past 21 finals. I guess I wasn't too far off. – jamauss Jan 31 '17 at 19:33
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The sport of Tennis is way behind other professional sports as far as statistical data and analysis goes, so it's not likely you will be able to even find the data to perform this kind of analysis.

As someone who has been watching all of the grand slam tennis events for over 20 years, I can just share my opinion that the extra day of rest does not matter very much. The players at the top of the game are all very fit and their bodies are able to recover quickly. It would surprise me if there was any pattern indicating that an extra day of rest gave one player an advantage over another.

I also think you would need to take into consideration other factors such as total time on court for their previous 6 matches, distance traveled during those matches, and perhaps quality of opponent.

  • I would be surprised if this data is missing. Provided they pay people to send real-time data of matches for bookmakers, it is unlikely this data has not been collected already. I'd assume it is kept proprietary for the purposes of the bookmakers. – akostadinov Feb 13 '17 at 9:20
  • The data could be gathered (as JeopardyTemptest did) - it's just not easy to come by in the traditional sense - e.g. going to the ATP Website and looking up the date of the matches. – jamauss Feb 13 '17 at 18:08

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