Tennis And Data: Methods Used To Collect Information And How Much Each One Costs! - UBITENNIS
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Tennis And Data: Methods Used To Collect Information And How Much Each One Costs!

The latest instalment in our series of articles on data in tennis. Today we are going to talk about systems to gather data, from the most expensive (such as Hawk-eye) to the up-and-comers like FoxTenn.

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We told you about who uses data to win and what that data actually is – from the raw to the finest, the Hawkeye data. Today we will talk about how they are collected. The latest episode in our recurring series on tennis and statistics is dedicated to data generators for tennis courts and generally to the understanding of the so-called “constellation” of tools dedicated to the collection of tennis data. 

 

The analysis focuses on data generators installed on tennis courts which can be easily divided into three categories:

Devices dedicated to refereeing during competitions that offer the following services: supervision of balls landing close to the lines, match statistics, video replays, data analysis for fan engagement and transmission of streaming services;

Devices specialized in tutoring and training services that offer on-court monitoring of athletes, video analysis, retro analysis (feedback) as well as playful dynamics (gamification);

Portable devices, flexible enough to perform both refereeing functions as well as the collection of match statistics, while also serving as training tools by means of their application functionalities.

A tennis court is considered a “smartcourt” when a technological component is permanently or semi-permanently installed on the court and it is positioned and secured/protected in order not to interfere with the movements of the athletes or hinder them during a game. This analysis is based on an article published on the Sports Technology blog, which can be found at this link. The most common hardware technology used by these devices is a combination of computer vision cameras. Moreover, there are also radars, sound sensors, lasers, and pressure sensors. 

While data collected through the sensors installed in the racquets and the so-called “wearables” are, so to speak, one-dimensional (they are calibrated on the tennis player who uses the tool or wears the sensor itself), those collected through smartcourts possess a two-dimensional component, recording rallies between players involved in official tournaments or training sessions. Therefore, while the first will in the future be used to prevent injuries by being tailored to the person, the second shows an ever-increasing usefulness in the strategic analysis of matches, monitoring the effectiveness of shots against a rival. 

Let’s move on to the analysis of the first category of devices, those dedicated to refereeing. 

1. Smart referees 

Three products may be assigned to this category: FlightScope Tennis, Hawkeye Innovations and Foxtenn, all of which have been approved by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), boasting the status of PAT (Player Analysis Technologies). All ITF-approved products that have PAT status are available at the following link. Therefore, they are used in international tournaments such as the Grand Slams and the WTA and ATP circuits. 

FlightScope Tennis

Estimated cost: 35-40 thousand euros per court on a weekly basis 

This one has probably the longest history of merging technologies and systems developed over the years, having done so since 1984. Flightscope was founded in South Africa in 1989 and it merged with the Polish company Jagro in 2008 to form Flightscope Tennis at a later date. Today, the main products offered by the company are the live scoring system and the line call system which also include ball and player monitoring. 

The live scoring system mainly uses cameras, radars and the Proscorer, which is a tablet for the chair umpire. Therefore, all the collected data are used during a match through visualizations and the distribution to the television media.

The line call system mainly consists of video cameras mounted on each court, with 4 high speed cameras and 8 other specific cameras for line calls. When there is a line call, the data is processed and provides an update to the referee via the official review application. Additional ball tracking data, such as flight parameters and trajectories, plus player tracking data such as motion patterns and heat maps, provide additional interpretations and analysis available to the various stakeholders of the sport in question.

C:\Users\OLYMPIA\Desktop\Personal Andrea\UBITENNIS\T-TOOLS\Pics Products\line-calling-scheme.png

Operation scheme of line calls

Hawk-Eye

Estimated cost: 60-70 thousand euros per court on a weekly basis 

The Hawk-Eye system was created in the UK in 1999 and it was used for the first time in cricket (in 2001) in a test match between Pakistan and England. It was then used in the Davis Cup in 2002, then at the Australian Open in 2003, and it became an official tennis refereeing system in 2005. In 2010, Hawk-Eye was acquired by Sony. In competitions it is mainly used for electronic calls during matches, but the system also provides statistics about each player on every shot, service and rally.

C:\Users\OLYMPIA\Desktop\Personal Andrea\UBITENNIS\T-TOOLS\Pics Products\Hawk-Eye 2.jpg

Layout and arrangement of cameras

Source: http://www.studiosayers.com/ 

Essentially, the tracking system is based on the principles of triangulation, using visual images and timing data captured by high-speed cameras installed around the stadium, cameras that are calibrated and synchronized before each event.  These are usually positioned high above the courts in such a way that they can capture the trajectory of the balls with minimal obstructions. 

Although there has been some controversy regarding the accuracy of the line call, which is able to guarantee a margin of error up to 3.6 mm, the system is generally considered to be reliable and accurate except for a few borderline cases. With regards the heated debates concerning the availability of the data generated by Hawk-Eye for fans, media and third parties external to the ATP and the IT companies appointed by the Slams, we plan to deal extensively with the subject in the next article. 

FoxTenn

Estimated cost: less than 50 thousand euros per court on a weekly basis 

The latest addition to the industry is FoxTenn, a company founded in 2012 and based in Barcelona, which has developed a technological system to compete with the status quo of line call accuracy.

The system is made up of 40 (ultra) high-speed cameras and 10 high-speed lasers positioned around the court. Each high-speed camera can capture images at 2500 frames per second (FPS), which is over ten times faster than any other system. Another difference compared to Hawk-Eye is the placement, as they are positioned at the far end of the court, and at ground level, rather than above it

C:\Users\OLYMPIA\Desktop\Personal Andrea\UBITENNIS\T-TOOLS\Pics Products\FoxTenn Set up.png

Layout and arrangement of video cameras and lasers on the ground 

Foxtenn thinks its ground-level approach avoids many potential errors found in other existing systems. First of all, with the cameras installed above the stands, there is the possibility that the view of the ball can be obstructed by the players or by objects moving between the cameras and the court; ground cameras are so close to the action that there is little or no possibility that this might occur

Moreover, cameras mounted above the stands can be more sensitive to wind vibrations and even to the movement of fans walking in the stands. Tracking can also be affected if the ball hits the net or if it has a high trajectory – this could lead to a less accurate estimate of where the ball landed. 

Foxtenn’s system captures real footage of the bounce and tracking is not affected by the aforementioned situations. Having been approved by all the major tennis federations, FoxTenn could potentially become the most used “Line Calling” technology in major tennis

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Australian Open Daily Preview: Olympic Gold Medalists Face Differing Challenges

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Belinda Bencic on Monday in Melbourne (twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

Six months ago in Tokyo, Sascha Zverev and Belinda Bencic earned the biggest achievements of their young careers: winning an Olympic Gold Medal for their country.  Now they have their sights set on claiming their first Major, though neither has a straightforward second round draw.

 

Wednesday’s schedule also includes top names like Rafael Nadal, Naomi Osaka, Ash Barty, and Daniil Medvedev.  However, with all of those stars being strong favorites on Day 3, other matches featuring some of the sport’s most exciting performers may be the day’s most compelling affairs.

Each day this preview will highlight the five most intriguing matchups, while outlining the other notable matches on the schedule.   Wednesday’s play will begin at 11:00am local time.


Victoria Azarenka (24) vs. Jil Teichmann – 11:00am on Kia Arena

It was 10 full years ago when Azarenka won her first Major in Australia, a feat she would repeat just 12 months later.  Despite reaching three finals in New York, she’s still trying to secure her third Slam title.  Injuries sidelined her several times throughout 2021, yet she still put together a strong 28-9 record on the year.  Teichmann had a breakout 2021, reaching semifinals in both Adelaide and Duabi to start the year, and upsetting three top 12 players during a run to the final in Cincinnati.  But she may be overmatched against an in-form two-time former champion, who dropped only four games in the first round.


Belinda Bencic (22) vs. Amanda Anisimova – Third on Kia Arena

Anisimova was very close to being eliminated from this tournament in the first round.  The 20-year-old American was down a set and a break to Arianne Hartono, and a point from going down a double break in the second set, before storming back to win in three.  However, that near-defeat is not revealing of her recent form, as she started the season by winning a title on these very grounds.  Anisimova has been working with Darren Cahill on a trial basis in Australia, which has already paid dividends.  Bencic has continued to play well following her Tokyo triumph, where she won medals in both singles and doubles.  Three years ago on grass in Mallorca, Belinda defeated Amanda 6-2, 6-2.  Coming off such a close call on Monday, I suspect Anisimova will play freely on Wednesday, and I would not be surprised if she upset the Olympic Gold Medalist.  When her groundstrokes are on, especially her backhand, there aren’t many players who can tame Anismova’s aggression.


Carlos Alcaraz (31) vs. Dusan Lajovic – Third on 1573 Arena

Coming off his star-making run in New York, Alcaraz went right back to work in the opening round here, easily prevailing in less than two hours.  Lajovic required nearly twice as long to overcome Marton Fucsovics in five.  The 31-year-old Serbian advanced to the second week of this event a year ago.  However, the rest of his 2021 season didn’t go as well, ending the year with a record of 18-28.  And he started 2022 by going 0-3 at the ATP Cup.  I expect to see some extra fight out of Dusan during this tournament, as I anticipate many of the Serbian players will be motivated by what occurred over the past two weeks with Novak Djokovic.  But taking out one of the sport’s most formidable newcomers, especially when you’re coming off a five-setter, is a tall task.


Sascha Zverev (3) vs. John Millman – Last on Rod Laver Arena

Following his first round victory, Zverev admitted things had not gone to plan, and he had not played his best.  Despite that, Sascha still prevailed in straight sets, escaping two tight sets via tiebreaks.  He may not be able to afford such dips in his level against one of Australia’s grittiest competitors.  Millman will certainly enjoy plenty of crowd support, and he has taken out big names at Majors before.  At the 2018 US Open, he upended Roger Federer in extremely hot and humid conditions.  And at the 2019 French Open, though he lost, Millman pushed Zverev to five sets.  However, I fully expect Sascha to up his game on Wednesday.  The German won 41 hard court matches last year, and claimed five titles, including the ATP Finals.  He seems primed to make his second Slam final sooner than later, perhaps even at the end of next week.


Gael Monfils (17) vs. Alexander Bublik – Last on Margaret Court Arena

Well this match is pretty much guaranteed to be entertaining, featuring two players who often choose the more fun shot over the smarter shot.   Monfils struggled to find any form following the pandemic shutdown, as playing in front of empty seats did not inspire him.  But with fans back in the stands, Gael’s results have improved.  He started the year by winning his first title in two years.  By contrast, Bublik played well in the first half of 2021, propelling him to a career-high ranking some September, yet his results fizzled later in the year.  During 2020’s autumn edition of Roland Garros, Bubik defeated Monfils in four sets.  But with his mojo back, the Frenchman is the favorite to avenge that loss on Wednesday.


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Ash Barty (1) vs. Lucia Bronzetti (Q) – On Monday, Barty needed less than an hour to dismiss Lesia Tsurenko 6-0, 6-1.  Bronzetti is a 23-year-old Italian who reached five lower-level finals last season.

Rafael Nadal (6) vs. Yannick Hanfmann (Q) – Nadal was another straight-set victor in the first round.  Hanfmann is a 30-year-old German who took out Thanasi Kokkinakis with the loss of just seven games, as the Australian was drained from his title run last week in Adelaide.  Three years ago at Roland Garros, Yannick earned only six games against Rafa.

Barbora Krejcikova (4) vs. Xiyu Wang (WC) – Krejickova advanced almost as easily as Barty, by a score of 6-2, 6-0.  Xiyu is a 20-year-old from China who on Monday gained her first victory in the main draw of a Major. 

Matteo Berrettini (7) vs. Stefan Kozlov (WC) – Berrettini overcame some considerable stomach issues to secure a four-set win on Monday.  Kozlov is a 23-year-old American who is making his Slam debut, thanks to claiming two Challenger titles in November to earn his wild card.

Naomi Osaka (13) vs. Madison Brengle – Osaka won comfortably in the opening round, while Brengle beat Dayana Yastremska by the bizarre score line of 6-1, 0-6, 5-0(RET), with Yastremska retiring one game from defeat. 


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Andy Murray Battles Past Basilashvili In Three Hour Marathon At Australian Open

Andy Murray produced a resilient performance to reach the second round at the Australian Open.

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Andy Murray (@the_LTA - Twitter)

Andy Murray battled past 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1 3-6 6-4 6-7(5) 6-4 to reach the second round of the Australian Open.

 

It was another typical Andy Murray grand slam match as a three hour marathon was won by the Brit to reach round two.

The three-time grand slam champion has beaten Basilashvili twice in the space of seven days and will now face Taro Daniel on Thursday.

Murray dominated the opening set against an error-prone Basilashvili as his defence was already peaking.

Three consecutive breaks gave Murray the set lead after taking the first set 6-1.

Basilashvili would return the favour in the second set as the Georgian continued to hammer his shots off of both wings.

A 4-1 double break lead was established as we would get the first frustrated mutterings from Murray.

The former world number one would get one of the breaks back but Basilashvili’s consistent firepower would prove too much for Murray’s stubborn defence as another break sealed the second set 6-3.

Into the third set, Murray would control the dynamic of the set on serve as he made bold patterns of play on big points.

An exchange of three breaks in a row saw Murray come out on top as he looked to use a mixture of power and defensive solidity to outmanoeuvre Basilashvili.

The Georgian saved three set points to force Murray to serve out the set but that didn’t matter as the Brit closed out the set comfortably for a 2 sets to 1 lead.

Nothing was easy for Andy Murray in grand slam tennis though and although he recovered a break deficit and saved set point, a poor start to the tiebreak saw Murray playing catch-up.

Basilashvili held his nerve and closed out the tiebreak 7-5 to force a deciding set.

In the final set Murray set a fast tempo winning the first eight points and being the aggressor taking 3-0 and 4-1 leads.

Once the Brit took his foot off the gas that allowed Basilashvili to get back into the match and continue to hit winners that would outpower Murray’s defence.

4-1 was 4-4 and Murray had to rely on his good returning skills when it really mattered to come through.

A 99th unforced error from the Georgian sealed Murray’s emotional delight in clinching another five set triumph at a grand slam.

After the match a delighted Murray reflected on his journey, “It’s been a tough three or four years but I’ve put in a lot of hard work to get here,” Murray said in his on-court interview.

“I’ve played on this court many times and the atmosphere is always incredible. It is where I thought I had potentially played my last match but to win a five-set battle like that, I couldn’t have asked any more.”

Murray will now return on Thursday to play Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel.

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Casper Ruud Withdraws From Australian Open Due To Ankle Injury

Casper Ruud has had to withdraw from the first grand slam of the season.

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Casper Ruud (@TennisChannel - Twitter)

Casper Ruud has withdrawn from the Australian Open after rolling his ankle in practice a couple of days ago.

 

The eighth seeded Norwegian announced the news in a press conference ahead of his scheduled match with Alex Molcan.

In a statement Ruud explained the injury and told journalists that it was very disappointing to not play the opening grand slam of the season, “I had to pull out of this year’s Australian Open due to an ankle injury,” Ruud said in his press conference.

“Two days ago in practice I rolled or twisted my ankle. I hoped that I would be able to recover and be able to step on court today with the two days that I had, but rolling an ankle usually maybe needs some more time. I tried everything I could to be ready, but unfortunately I’ve decided that I’m not a hundred percent ready and I will not be able to play a hundred percent like I have to compete at this level. That’s the final decision.

“Disappointing. I had a great time here last year, reaching the fourth round, the best result I had in a Grand Slam. Was hoping I could try to do the same this year obviously, maybe a step further.

“This year the Grand Slams will be a big goal for me because last year, except for this one, I felt like I didn’t do as well as I had hoped in a Grand Slam. My game relies a lot on having good footwork. When you’re ankle is not responding, cannot take your explosive movements, take the stopping/starting movements, then it’s tough to perform well.”

Despite the injury Ruud is optimistic that he can still make the golden swing in South America next month and revealed it was more a tendon issue.

Ruud will lose 180 ranking points after reaching the second week here last week and hopes to recover in order to make a deep run at Roland Garros in May.

Lucky loser and ATP Cup hero Roman Safiullin has now taken his spot in the draw.

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