Friday, January 29, 2010

Australian Open 2010: Men's Final Preview

Andy Murray GBR (5) v. Roger Federer SUI (1)

The men's final between 15-time champion Roger Federer of Switzerland and Andy Murray of Great Britain is a reprise of the 2008 US Open Final which Federer won relatively easily to claim his 13th major title. This final will be the 22nd major final of his career (a record) with 15 wins (and 6 losses, 5 of which have come to Rafael Nadal, who Murray dismissed in a quarterfinal encounter earlier in the tournament).

Surprisingly, even though Murray sports a 6-4 advantage against Federer overall, Federer has won their 1(!) meeting in a major 5-set match (which was the 2008 final won by Federer in straight sets) and by some quirk, all their matches have been played on hard courts, although both players possess all-court games.

Murray has looked the sharpest of all the top players all tournament long and has only dropped a single set. Federer has been up and down but he was scintillating in his straight-set elimination of Tsonga in the semifinal. There's no question in my mind if Federer plays his best tennis, he will win the match. It's not clear at 28 years old, facing younger opponents like his arch-rival Nadal, the 21-year-old 6'6" phenom J uan Martín del Potro (who took Federer out in a 5th set US Open final last year) and the 22-year olds Djokovic and Murray how much longer it will be true that when Federer plays his best no one can beat him. I suspect we will find out this year if Federer can even still play his best tennis.

After correctly predicting the result of every single men's match of the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds except for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's surprising 5-set dispatch of 2008 Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, I find this match surprisingly difficult to predict. However, using a similar technique I deployed in predicting the result of the women's final, I will endeavor to approximate a probability of the winner of tonight's match.

There are 6 possibilities: Federer in 3 sets, Federer in 4 sets, Federer in 5 sets, Murray in 3 sets, Murray in 4 sets, Murray in 5 sets. If the match is 3 sets long, I think there is a 76% chance the winner is Federer (24% chance it is Murray). If the match is 4 sets long, there is a 55% chance of Federer winning (a 45% chance for Murray). If the match is 5 sets long, there is a 40% chance of Federer winning (a 60% chance for Murray). Crunching the numbers this corresponds to a 57% probability that Federer will win the match. [One key assumption of this method is that 3 set, 4 set and 5 set matches are equally likely. This is probably not true, if someone has the data on what percentage of Grand Slam matches are 3-set, 4-set or 5-set contests, that would greatly help me improve this technique. In the meantime the assumption of equal likelihood does massively impact the results.]

MadProfessah's pick: Federer in straight sets (Murray in 4 or 5 sets).


Japan-Australia said...

We are down to the business end of the 2010 Australian Open with the mens number one, Roger Federer facing off in another Grand Slam final against the young British hope Andy Murray. The Scot, Andy Murry is trying to prove he has arrived as a major player and is hoping to become the first British man to win a grand slam singles title since the legendary Fred Perry in 1936. Interestingly, Murry holds a 6-4 advantage head-to head over Federer. Last night, Serena Williams and Justine Henin slogged it out in a classic women's final with Serena Williams prevailing 6-4 3-6 6-2 in 2 hours and 7 minutes.