Nash at Wimbledon: Evidence from Half a Million Serves

48 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2016

See all articles by Romain Gauriot

Romain Gauriot

University of Sydney

Lionel Page

Queensland University of Technology

John Wooders

New York University Abu Dhabi; University Technology Sydney

Date Written: September 1, 2016


Minimax and its generalization to mixed strategy Nash equilibrium is the cornerstone of our understanding of strategic situations that require decision makers to be unpredictable. Using a dataset of nearly half a million serves from over 3000 matches, we examine whether the behavior of professional tennis players is consistent with the Minimax Hypothesis. The large number of matches in our dataset requires the development of a novel statistical test, which we show is more powerful than the tests used in prior related studies. We find that win rates conform remarkably closely to the theory for men, but conform somewhat less neatly for women. We show that the behavior in the field of more highly ranked (i.e., better) players conforms more closely to theory.

Keywords: minimax, Nash equilibrium, mixed strategy, expertise, tennis

JEL Classification: C72 C91

Suggested Citation

Gauriot, Romain and Page, Lionel and Wooders, John C., Nash at Wimbledon: Evidence from Half a Million Serves (September 1, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Romain Gauriot

University of Sydney ( email )

University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006

Lionel Page

Queensland University of Technology ( email )

2 George Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4000

John C. Wooders (Contact Author)

New York University Abu Dhabi ( email )

PO Box 129188
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates
+971 126285802 (Phone)


University Technology Sydney ( email )

15 Broadway, Ultimo
PO Box 123
Sydney, NSW 2007


Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics