Nash at Wimbledon: Evidence from Half a Million Serves
48 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2016
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: Suggested Citation