By Elizabeth O’Brien
Big Data is a term we hear a lot about in the business world. But these days, thanks to the insatiable hunger for player, team and league stats and analysis, it’s also becoming widely used in the world of sports.
In tennis, for example, Big Data includes tournament, match and player stats, things like serve speeds, rally counts, winners and aces. But more important than what Big Data includes, is how it is used to enhance and, in many ways, transform how we experience and enjoy the sport of tennis.
This week marks the 28th year of IBM’s partnership with the French Tennis Federation in support of Roland Garros (also known as the French Open). IBM brings a suite of solutions to Roland Garros, all centered on real time and historic Grand Slam data. We capture, analyze, secure, store and distribute the data—in fact Big Data is the heart of our collaboration with the FFT.
There are many ways we use Big Data to enhance the game of tennis, bringing the action at Roland Garros to fans, coaches, players and media around the world. One example is through SlamTracker, an analytics tool available on rolandgarros.com that has changed the way many fans watch and enjoy tennis.
SlamTracker analyzes 8 years of Grand Slam tennis data (41 million data points per match) to identify the 3 key strategies that will affect the dynamics of a particular match for each player. We call these ‘keys to the match.’ Before matches, fans can go on the website to check out each player’s keys to the match and during the match, watch player’s progress against these keys in real time—point by point.
At this year’s tournament, we focused on helping fans gain a better understanding of how Big Data has affected and impacted coaches, players and media, IBM convened a panel discussion of tennis experts including
- Justing Gimelstob, a former player, Roland Garros mixed doubles winner (with Venus Williams) and current Tennis Channel commentator
- Sebastien Grosjean, a former #4 ATP player and current coach of Richard Gasquet
- Leo Levin a former coach and tennis analyst for whom this is his 107th Grand Slam
These experts, with their combined 70+ years of tennis playing, coaching, analyzing and commentating, participated in a lively discussion featuring their views of the importance of Big Data in the sport of tennis, how it impacts Roland Garros and insights about players they have both coached and played against.
The action at Roland Garros runs through June 9, and we’ll be analyzing the Big Data daily. Follow the action and insights via SlamTracker on rolandgarros.com and join the conversation on Twitter (@eryanobrien) and via daily blog posts at http://asmarterplanet.com/gamechangers.