How an IBM powered US Open is changing the game

From Steffi Graf to Serena Williams, and Pete Sampras to Roger Federer and Spain’s Grand Slam winning Rafael Nadal, for nearly three decades IBM has been the official Information Technology Provider to the US Open.

Every year, for a special and eventful two weeks, IBM works with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to bring one of the most prestigious sporting events to life for millions of fans, players, coaches and even the media.

Through IBM, the US Open offers a huge variety of digital experiences for more than 10 million fans during the tournament. From the enterprise-grade data analytics of SlamTracker, to the Watson-enabled virtual assistant, to the US Open website and app itself, the entire IBM collection brings the whole occasion to the digital front.

IBM has even brought AI to the event with IBM Watson reinventing how fans experience the US Open. The AI highlight capacity can see, hear, and understand the most exciting moments recorded on video. With visual recognition, IBM has taught Watson how to create the perfect highlight of the day.

Running on the IBM Cloud, Watson analyses three key elements to score and rank every point in a match including player gestures (fist pump, facial expression and celebration), crowd noise and match data, translating those movements and moments into data and scoring each moment in the match.

Although having a long-serving partnership with the US Open, this is the first year players and coaches will be utilising IBM AI-powered tools during the tournament, with the ability to now combine video and data to sharpen their game plan and skill.

Video is a crucial element in any player’s development, but the process of tagging and indexing match video for analysis is time-consuming and labour-intensive. After all, some matches can go on for 3+ hours – imagine sitting down and going through Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic’s 4 hour and 54 minute final from 2012.

Watson accelerates the time from hours to minutes, able to automatically review the entire match footage and identify key points and stats, allowing coaches to quickly craft comprehensive and effective analysis and reports for the player as they progress in the tournament and even for future competitions.

Utilising the same technology at Wimbledon, IBM SlamTracker is the premier scoring application for US Open, providing fans with real-time scores, statistics and leveraging ball and player data to provide point-by-point analysis (aces, unforced errors, distance player has travelled) of each individual match at the tournament, allowing fans to follow every single, detailed aspect of the US Open.

It now even provides deeper insights into ‘pressure situations’ (facing a break-point, being two sets down, tie-breaks), analysing the player’s historical performance in those situations and revealing hidden patterns in the player and match dynamics. IBM has even reintroduced the “Momentum” feature which visualises the competitive flow of the match.

IBM’s predictive analytics technology (SPSS) plays a major in SlamTracker’s “Keys to the Match” feature, analysing over 12 years of Slam Tennis data, player’s historical head-to-heads and their own unique style and performance against certain aspects (wind, left-handed players, time of day), with the data collected highlighting what each player needs to do in order to perform well in the match.

IBM continues to provide rapid innovation and technological development that keeps the US Open’s digital properties fresh, exciting, and secure. It’s not unusual for the US Open’s infrastructure to also be targeted by more than 100 million attacks during the course of the tournament, and Watson for Cybersecurity uses sophisticated analytics and machine learning to eliminate the threats.

The technology IBM is implementing is a figurative (and literal) game changer for the USTA, and is the same technology IBM is using to change the game across the world from diagnosing disease to batting climate change and even revolutionising transport. The same technology used here will power the digital transformations of yours and your clients’ organisations.

Find out more about how IBM technology is powering the US Open

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