US Open Uses Game-Like Statistical Analysis To Make Tennis Even Cooler

One of the reason tennis is so great is how it functions as a game: it’s like chess, but even more nuanced, and you have to be in really, really good shape to do well at it. However, tennis can be hard to follow because to the untrained eye it can just look like two dudes smacking a ball back and forth.

Now, IBM has developed a system to synthesize massive amounts of raw data that a tennis game yields into a dashboard full of easily-digestible charts and graphs tracking match momentum, serve stats, and three “Keys to the Match” that tell you what, statistically, each player has to do in order to maximize his chances of winning. What’s even cooler is that all of this is done in real time. Math nerds, check it:

Here’s how you’ll experience the magic of analytics on the U.S. Open Web site: When you click on the PointStream feature, up will pop a “dashboard” that displays key dimensions of an individual match, including an assessment of how the two players have performed against each other in the past. PointStream identifies three Keys to the Match for each player. While the match goes on, PointStream not only displays scoring as it happens and statistics such as aces, unforced errors and winners; but it tracks each player’s on-going performance against the Keys to the Match. You’ll see graphically who is performing as well as they must to win, and who is not. The interface also identifies potential turning points as they happen–and you will see a “confidence meter” that tells how confident PointStream is that it is spotting momentum shifts accurately.

In other words, there are six million ways to hit a tennis ball, and this software tells exactly which way a player should choose to win.

Check the US Open website to see the technology in action.

-Drew Millard
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