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Tennis and big data: A partnership to watch

I vividly remember that memorable quarter final match of US Open between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras in 2001. The match, which went down in history as a classic, lasted three and a half hours and saw Sampras serving 25 aces to Agassi's 18. When the match finally ended, some three and a half hours later with Sampras winning, the players got a standing ovation at midnight from a stadium full of die-hard fans.

Recently I had the privilege of attending this edition of the ATP tournament in London for which Infosys was one of the proud sponsors. What amazed me this time, in contrast to 2001, was the sheer amount of data.

• For example, did you know that this year at the ATP tournament, Roger Federer saved 64 per cent of all break points, while Novak Djokovic's saves stood at 60 per cent?

• Also that Federer holds the record for most second-serve points won (55 per cent) followed closely by Djokovic (54 per cent).

• And yet in the keenly contested finals, Djokovic managed to win a mind-blowing 84 per cent of his second-serve points.

Fascinating isn't it? How such insights bring out the multiflorous facets of what the lay person might assume to be a simple game. Sports fans are religious about details and statistics. We consider them our holy grail; knowing and remembering who faced off whom, when and the percentage of wins against each other, information that sets a true fan apart.

What makes this data even more special to me is this has been crunched by us using Infosys Information Platform (IIP). IIP has given a new perspective to the game of tennis. It has enabled ATP to leverage its data capabilities to provide fans, players and analysts with interesting facts and stats about the game they love. With the tie-up ATP hopes to take advantage of Infosys's data analytics capabilities while Infosys aims to leverage 40 years' worth of ATP data to provide deep analysis.

All the clients I spoke to were appreciative of these data points, however most surprising was the fact that players wanted a piece of the data as well. They were keen to use it in training for analysing detailed information on their performances and dive deeper into data driven patterns of the sport.

IIP provides immense data analytics capability. With IIP 2,40,000 records and 12 million data points can be analysed in real time and provided to the viewers so that they have a more enjoyable watching experience. With the customized platform being flexible for deployment over cloud (because of Hadoop and Apache Spark), users across media spectrum will get uninterrupted access to data wherever they are.

For fans fortunate enough to watch the match live at venues, special apps allowed for personalised offers, instant replays and the ability to connect with friends attending. Virtual reality and live data streaming added a new level of enjoyment for those catching the match on screens. With the attention span of audience growing shorter, the idea was to provide as much information as possible to enhance user experience and engage more fans to join in the match excitement. What the world saw this year at ATP was only the tip of IIP capability and we are confident that over years we have the potential to become the preferred platform for analysing vast amount of data and helping effectively predict outcomes.

As Mr Murthy rightly said, "In god we trust, for all others bring data". And we are truly on the path of bringing accurate and reliable data insights to the world.


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