What do Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray all have in common? Certainly, an exceptional tennis talent that has propelled them to great professional heights, but the athletes are also united by another commonality: their use of data analytics to gain a competitive advantage.
A recent piece in The Telegraph, proclaiming that “Men’s tennis is undergoing a secret data revolution,” examined this practice in greater detail. As data science and predictive analytics have become more mainstream, a number of firms have cropped up to help professional tennis players increase their odds of winning matches by analyzing how individual opponents play and using those insights to better prepare for games.
Alexander Zverev has credited this data-backed approach with helping him beat world number one Djokovic and win the ATP Tour Finals. It’s being utilized by “several leading male players,” according to The Telegraph, as well as a select group of women.
Most recently, Murray’s team used data analytics to help him prepare for his Wimbledon comeback following a serious hip injury. By analyzing historical data on his form and comparing it to his post-surgery performance, analysts identified areas for improvement that informed a specific workout to address these weaknesses.
Another popular technique is the “stat tree,” which predicts where an opponent is most likely to hit the ball from each position on the court. Armed with this information, players can devise two-shot patterns to exploit this weakness and increase their likelihood of winning the match. Forward-looking implementations may focus on real-time use of analytics. As The Telegraph article puts it, “The technology continues to develop, and could potentially come to be used while matches are in progress if tennis’s governing bodies press ahead with their trials of coaching from the stands.”
Individual players are not the only ones availing of data science advances. Wimbledon’s organizers are also fans of the technology, with IT PRO’s Bobby Hellard calling the competition “one of the most technologically advanced sporting spectacles around.” One key implementation involves the use of cameras and sensors to track plays and create an automated highlights reel. Powered by artificial intelligence, the service ranks each action against the cheers it receives from the crowd and produces a match highlights package within two minutes of the winning shot.
The tennis industry’s use of analytics is just one example of how better access to and use of existing data can help drive improvements—from individual player performance to how event organizers inspire fan engagement. The key to realizing these and other benefits is integrating data from a variety of sources, assessing its quality and addressing any issues, and operationalizing the information via a single, unified platform.
For more on how other professional sports are utilizing analytics, check out this APEX post.