Rafael Nadal’s astonishing win in the final of the Australian Open 2022 over World No.2 Daniil Medvedev managed to win the hearts and capture the imagination of not only tennis fans, but everyone watching the match.
No one thought that Nadal would win the trophy after being down for two sets and then he made an amazing comeback not only in the game but also from everything that stopped him from playing in the last season and won the title along with the hearts of millions of people watching and cheering for him. The comeback was so unlikely that even Medvedev looked shocked and shake on the court when it started to take shape.
Experts analyse whether Nadal defeated the algorithm
At one point in the match, Daniel Medvedev is two sets up and a game up at the start of the third set. It is then that an image flashed on the television, which showed the win probability of both the players at that moment. Reflecting back at these numbers almost sends shivers down the spine.
The win probability was 96% for the Russian, with only a meager 4% chance for Nadal to win the match. It seemed to be the confirmation that Rafael Nadal was down and out, unable to achieve his Australian dream. However, it was not the case, as the events which unfolded after the graphic showed.
The 4% win prediction and the 36% win probability given to the Spaniard by the calculators have almost become a meme and a butt of jokes following the incredible comeback. So did Rafa beat the algorithm? Several experts in data analytics applied to the sport have analyzed the question.
The percentages do seem justified to the experts consulted by Spanish news publication EFE upon analyzing. In the 338 Grand Slam games which the Spaniard had played in his career, he was down by two sets on 19 occasions and managed to come back and win in only 2 of those situations. In the 13 more times in the same situation in which he faced a player from the top ten of the ATP circuit, he had not prevailed in any.
Jesus Lagos, partner of ScoutAnalyst and the expert consulted, explained that the algorithm just provides an interpretation of the data provided, and cannot win or lose.
“An algorithm does not beat or win. What an algorithm does is based on information, such as Rafa Nadal’s results history, to see how he has fared in that situation. Nadal had never won in that situation. Does that mean that 4% is not going to win a game? No, but that game, in that situation, played 100 times, they would have won it in 4.”– he said
Be it beating the algorithm or not, one thing is clear: Rafael Nadal’s comeback was one of the unlikeliest and thus an astonishing feat.