IBM at Wimbledon

August 5, 2013

The realms of tennis and technology intersect at Wimbledon, Britain’s NewStatesman reminds us in, “IBM and Wimbledon: The Tech that Takes You Closer to the Tennis. Brought to You by Wimbledon Insights.” The prestigious tournament, held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London, since 1877, has relied on IBM tech since 1994. We wonder, does IBM’s involvement boost Wimbledon’s ratings in the US?

The article takes us through the history of that partnership, listing developments like the 2000 debut of the Wimbledon Information System and the Match Analysis DVDs distributed to singles players beginning in 2007. See the article for more, but, personally, I am most interested in the incorporation of predictive analytics via SlamTracker. (Ah, but did Watson predict Serena’s recent loss? The article does not say.) We learn from the write-up:

“Introduced last year, IBM SlamTracker was enhanced with a ‘Keys to the match’ feature. Using over eight years of Grand Slam tennis data and 41 million data points, IBM is able to find the patterns and styles of play for particular head-to-head matches (or between players of similar styles if the players in question have not met before).

“In the run-up to a match, the data for one player is compared to that of his or her opponent, along with players of a similar style to determine the ‘keys to the match’: the three targets that player has to hit if they want to enhance their chance of winning. These keys are selected by analysing 45 potential match dynamics – 19 offensive, 9 defensive, 9 endurance and 8 style – to identify the ones that will be vital to each player in this specific match.”

My, how sports have changed since 1877! It almost makes one long for simpler times.

Cynthia Murrell, August 05, 2013

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