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An interesting <a href=”http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/jon_wertheim/10/18/mailbag/index.html”>discussion appeared on the John Wertheim tennis mailbag on the Sports Illustrated site. How long do people take to win a second slam?</a> The theory goes that people win a slam, then have a bit of a dip before they get to win another. After that, it should get easier, at least for a bit, until time and injuries and competition catch up.<br />
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The SI mailbag suggested that it is about 10 tournaments between first and second slam.<br />
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Does the data back this up? Looking back to the start of the open era (1968 onwards), and counting back-to-back tournament wins as 1, the average time it takes a player to win their second slam is <b>5.47 tournaments</b> – just over one year. This is the equivalent of winning Wimbledon, and netting your second slam at the US Open the following year – <b>a lot less than the 10 events mentioned on SI</b>.<br />
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The stats for men and women are very similar – the “event gap” between first and second is 5.37 for men, 5.60 for women. And the trends are also mirrored, with the gap decreasing across the first few wins. After win 6 or so, the data becomes a bit too random to be meaningful.<br />
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The blips in all this are Arthur Ashe, Virginia Wade and Hana Mandlikova, who all won their second slam within the normal timeframe, but took a lot longer to win their third. Their stats are:<br />
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Arthur Ashe: slam #1 to slam #2: <b>5</b> events. Slam 2-3: <b>22</b><br />
Virginia Wade: 1-2: <b>13</b>; 2-3: <b>22</b><br />
Hana Mandlikova: 1-2: <b>5</b>; 2-3: <b>18</b><br />
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Taking these three out makes a marked difference to the figures, with the combined gap between wins 2 and 3 dropping to 3.5 from 5.<br />
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The men and women also have a very similar chance of being a one-slam wonder: 46% for men, just under 43% for women.<br />
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Here is the overall table for open era “slam gaps” for men and women up to 10 grand slam wins:<br />
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<table style=”table-layout: auto; width: 100%; border: 1px solid #efefef; border-spacing: 2px;”><tr><td>Slam victory interval</td><td>1-2</td><td>2-3</td><td>3-4</td><td>4-5</td><td>5-6</td><td>6-7</td><td>7-8</td><td>8-9</td><td>9-10</td></tr><tr bgcolor=”#dedede”><td>Number of players</td><td>47</td><td>34</td><td>28</td><td>23</td><td>18</td><td>16</td><td>12</td><td>9</td><td>6</td></tr><tr><td>Average event gap</td><td>5.47</td><td>5.03</td><td>3.79</td><td>3.96</td><td>3.67</td><td>3.31</td><td>3.08</td><td>3.67</td><td>2.50</td></tr><table><br />
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And you can download and view the entire spreadsheet here: <a href=”http://www.minto.net/blogs/uploads/robminto_slamgaps.xls” title=”robminto_slamgaps.xls” target=”_blank”>robminto_slamgaps.xls</a>