One of the key tenets of IBM’s sponsorship portfolio is the ability it give us to showcase our technology in a familiar explicable context. IBM brings the same approach and technology to our sports and entertainment sponsorships as we do to our industry clients around the world. In both cases, we begin with business objectives and develop solutions to address those objectives based on the IBM’s core technologies, products, software and services.
I recently attended IBM’s Enterprise 2013 conference in Orlando, Florida and sat down with leaders from both a sports sponsorship property (Nicole Jeter-West, USTA) and an industry client (Roxanne Reynolds-Lair, Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) to discuss how IBM’s technology has helped them to achieve their business objectives as well as the insights we’ve developed over decades of partnership.
User experience is a key driver of business success
Not surprisingly, when I asked Nicole and Roxanne about their business objectives, both immediately talked about their key audiences (tennis fans and students, respectively) and how the engagement of those audiences is core to the growth of their businesses.
Although the USTA and FIDM both know their audiences well, it is a complex task to develop an experience that will serve their needs over time and across platforms. Over time, there are spikes in demand and changes in the kind of content that users are seeking. Additionally people within the same user segment—in fact the same users themselves—want to engage across platforms depending on where and when they are accessing information. The result is that designing an experience that will address behavior cycles and desktop, mobile and tablet platforms requires a well defined strategy and complex array of hardware, software and services to make it run seamlessly.
Infrastructure is the underpinning of a smooth user experience
As we discussed the goals and challenges of developing compelling user experiences, Nicole and Roxanne both cited the importance of a flexible infrastructure that can instantly react to unpredictable changes in demand and conditions. Although we are seeing an proliferation of software and features, as Roxanne put it, “businesses today are driven by what software is out there but then I think it’s critical that you find an integrated, secure, flexible, agile, reliable (all those buzzwords), platform that you can run it on, because you can buy the best software in the world but if it doesn’t have a solid foundation, it’s not going to work.
A social world makes it easier to get feedback but ups the ante
It was clear from our conversation that the USTA and FIDM have built experiences based on an array of technology products and services. They’ve both watched their own business cycles as well as the behavior of their key audiences to prioritize the features and functions that will define the future experience across platforms.
Additionally, they closely monitor feedback, (both direct and across social media) from their audiences to measure how well they are doing. The feedback they get from social media is robust—ranging from comments on the technology itself to comments on content (from tennis players to curricula) to endorsements of the USTA and FIDM themselves. Nicole and Roxanne both noted that they like the 2 way nature of the conversation—especially appreciating when fans and students thank them for doing something well—and that this kind of dialogue allows their organizations to make targeted improvements to the experience quickly.
In the end, better feedback creates better experiences that drive the business success of both the USTA and FIDM.
What struck me at the end of our discussion was how wide ranging the conversation had been—including user segments, experience design, software, mobile platforms, infrastructure and social media. Despite this apparent complexity, Nicole and Roxanne both bring every discussion of new features, functions and technology back to how it will drive a better user experience and how it will map to their own business objectives, bringing them (and our discussion) full circle.
2013 US Open Men’s Final Recap – Nadal 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in 3 hours 21 minutes
Nadal takes the first set 6-2 in 42 minutes
Rafael Nadal did not face a break point against his serve in the opening set of the men’s final. He won 80% of his 1st serve points (12 of 15) and 55% of his 2nd serve points (6 of 11). Nadal hit 7 total winners in the set and made just 4 unforced errors. Djokovic was broken twice by Nadal and won less than half of his service points for the set (12 of 25). Djokovic was inconsistent from the backcourt hitting 6 winners but making 14 unforced errors. Nadal dominated the longer points winning 10 of 13 that lasted 9 shots or more.
2nd set to Djokovic 6-3 in 58 minutes
Djokovic finally broke Nadal’s serve in the 6th game winning a 54 shot rally that ended with a Nadal backhand in the net. It was Djokovic’s 3rd break point chance of the set and was only the 2nd time in the entire tournament that Nadal had lost serve. It gave Djokovic a 4-2 lead. Unfortunately for Djokovic, Nadal broke right back to get back on serve at 3-4. Nadal could not consolidate his break back and Djokovic broke him for a second straight time – this time on a 28 shot point to take a 5-3 lead. Djokovic served it out for 6-3.
For the set Nadal was the one under pressure on serve – he won just 46% of his 1st serve points (12 of 26) and faced 4 break points, losing serve twice. Djokovic cleaned up his game considerably, getting more aggressive and making fewer errors – 15 winners to just 11 unforced errors. He controlled the long rallies winning 11 of 16 points of 9 shots or more. Djokovic won 18 of his 28 service points in the set holding 4 of 5 service games.
3rd set Nadal 6-4 in 1 hour 1 minute
Djokovic continues his momentum, breaking Nadal at love to start the set. Nadal finally broke back to even the set at 3-3 on two consecutive unforced errors from Djokovic – a forehand wide and a backhand long. Nadal saved 3 break points from 0-40 down at 4-4 to hold for 5-4 and then broke Djokovic to take the set 6-4.
4th set Nadal 6-1 in 40 minutes
Nadal held serve 8 straight times after losing his opening service game of the 3rd set. He saved the last 6 break points he faced in the final two sets to finish the tournament winning 95 of his 99 service games. In the final set Nadal made just 3 unforced errors and broke Djokovic’s serve twice.
- 1 ace
- 1 double fault
- 64% 1st serves in play
- 65% 1st serve points won
- 56% 2nd serve points won
- held serve 14 of 17 service games
- 27 winners
- 20 unforced errors
- converted 7 of 12 break point chances
- 6 aces
- 2 double faults
- 68% 1st serves in play
- 58% 1st serves points won
- 48% 2nd serve points won
- held 10 of 17 service games
- 46 winners
- 53 unforced errors
- converted 3 of 11 break point chances
Nadal was the more consistent of the two and the more opportunistic – playing the big points better in key situations. Holding serve from 0-40 down with the match dead even in the 3rd set was the turning point in the match as Rafa went on to win 7 of the next 8 games to close out the match. Djokovic got more aggressive as the match progressed, but his mistakes cost him. Unforced errors on key points gave Nadal the edge he needed to claim the title.
Serena Williams claims her 5th US Open Singles Title – 7-5, 6-7, 6-1 in 2 hours 45 minutes
The best server in women’s tennis defeated one of the best returners of serve to win her 5th US Open Singles title. In the final set Williams serve lived up to the hype. She dropped just 6 points on serve and did not face a break point. For the match Williams hit 9 aces and won 76% of her 1st serve points. Azarenka was able to pressure Serena’s 2nd serve with strong returns and solid baseline play. Williams won just 47% of her 2nd serve points for the match.
Williams return was too strong for Azarenka. Serena broken serve 7 times, aided a bit by 7 double faults from Azarenka. Williams was the aggressor throughout the match, hitting more winners and making more unforced errors – 36 winners for Williams to just 17 for Azarenka and 35 unforced errors from Williams to 27 from Azarenka.
Match Data Recap:
- 9 aces
- 5 double faults
- 57% 1st serves in play
- 76% 1st serve points won
- 47% 2nd serve points won
- broken 4 times
- held 12 of 16 service games
- 2 aces
- 7 double faults
- 57% 1st serves in play
- 55% 1st serve points won
- 53% 2nd serve points won
- broken 7 times
- held 8 of 15 service games
Djokovic vs. Nadal
- Solid consistent 1st serve – 69% in play – 74% 1st serve points won – won 61% of 2nd serves
- Dominating return of serve – generated 86 break points in 21 sets played – broke serve 38 times – broke serve 7 or more times in 4 of 6 matches
- Forehand has been his weapon from the backcourt – 73 forehand winners (also had 77 forehand unforced errors)
- Amazing serving – broken just once in the tournament – faced only 12 break points in 19 sets played
- Dominating forehand from the baseline – 113 forehand winners
- Great play at net – won 108 of 133 net approaches (81%)
Nadal leads the head to head 21-15 having won 5 of their last 6 meetings. Djokovic won 7 straight from March 2011 through January 2012 including the 2012 Australian Open final which lasted 5 hours 53 minutes. Nadal won their last Grand Slam match earlier this year in Paris, 9-7 in the 5th set, in a relatively quick 4 hours 37 minutes.
Nadal held serve 73 straight games before getting broken in the 2nd set of his semifinal here and has done it with placement and variety rather than sheer power. He’s been moving his serves around the box to both the Deuce and Ad courts, going at the body quite a bit, and has used his lethal forehand to finish what his serve sets up.
When Djokovic was dominating Rafa in 2011, it was his two handed backhand crosscourt to the Nadal forehand that keyed his victories. Novak would use that shot to get Rafa deep and wide to his forehand side and that would open up the rest of the court. If Nadal answered back crosscourt, Djokovic had the down the line two hander (one of his favorite shots) and if Nadal hit his forehand down the line, Djokovic had a crosscourt forehand to make Nadal hit his backhand on the run. The challenge for Djokovic here is his backhand has not been as reliable as usual (32 backhand winners – 70 backhand unforced errors). He’ll need to improve on that to claim another US Open title.
Serena Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka
- Amazing serving – broken just twice in 44 service games – 36% of her serves have not been returned – won 80% of 1st serve points – faced a total of 10 break points in 12 sets played
- Dominant return of serve – 30 breaks in 44 return games played (68%)
- Lost only 16 games in 12 sets
- Dominant return of serve – 41 breaks in 62 return games played (67%) – that’s equivalent of letting her opponent serve every game and still winning each set 6-3
- Solid 1st serve – 64% in play – 65% 1st serve points won – shaky 2nd serve – 31 double faults, just 43% points won
- Good balance off the ground with (32 forehand winners, 36 backhand winners) – but more unforced errors than winners for the tournament
Williams leads the head to head 12-3, but Azarenka has won twice this year – both times on hard courts. Williams has the best serve in women’s tennis and Azarenka has one of the best returns. The challenge for Azarenka is to hold serve against the powerful Williams return game. Her first serve will be crucial to this – with her weakness on 2nd serve, getting first serves in play will be a huge plus. If she serves well, the pressure shifts to Serena’s serve.
Azarenka will have to pick up her game from how she’s played here so far (more unforced errors than winners) to have a chance. Her two 3 set victories over Serena earlier this year should give her confidence, but shot execution will help her more than confidence. Keeping the ball in play and extending the rallies is always a key against a player as explosive as Williams.
Both players come into the match with just 4 losses and one Grand Slam singles title this year. This truly is the battle for the top spot in the game with the winner having a legitimate claim to the title of world number one.
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