Big Data Gives Top Tennis Players A Match-Winning Advantage
Wed, April 14, 2021

Big Data Gives Top Tennis Players A Match-Winning Advantage

Big data can be leveraged by coaches to help players gain a data-led advantage / Photo Credit: FlashStudio (via Shutterstock)


Would you believe that big data is revolutionizing the way tennis stars train and play? The secret to success is turning that data into “something players can use to win,” wrote Mark Samuels of ZDNet, a business technology news platform. Craig O'Shannessy, official strategy analyst for both the ATP Tour, and all-time great Novak Djokovic stated that using data smartly during preparations can have a profound impact on matches.  

O’Shannessy told ZDNet that he used various tools such as the Infosys Tennis Platform to help Djokovic gain a data-led advantage at the ATP Tour Finals in London. The platform features a portal that gives players and coaches alike “access to advanced analytics and match video.” They have access to over 100 filters in over 1,000 combinations, allowing them to analyze the performance and to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of opponents. 

For O’Shannessy, using a data-led portal to create a personalized playlist of videos is “a very big deal.” Having the ability to take note of the key points in as little as 20 minutes at the end of a match is a “potential competitive differentiator.” He first started working closely with Djokovic at the 2017 Australian Open. He recalled saying to Djokovic, "Listen, I do a lot of different things, how can I best help you?" According to ZDNet, "The first thing he pointed to was video, the ability to see himself play and the ability to see the best patterns of play."

O’Shannessy also utilizes tools from Tennis Analytics, a big data specialist that offers technical and match analysis services to elite professionals. To him, leveraging video and analytics technology from a coaching perspective helps distill information. O’Shannessy argued that success is about taking, simplifying, and distilling big data, allowing the player to use it in under five minutes with their coach— regardless if it’s a video, a data table, or numerical figures. 

Big data is about finding those 10 or 15 points and explaining to the player that “these are the patterns of play” that they should employ in upcoming games to win.