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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Iga Swiatek double bagels Karolina Pliskova to win Rome

Iga Swiatek dominated Karolina Pliskova for 46 minutes to win the Rome title.

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Iga Swiatek (@InteBNLdItalia - Twitter)

Iga Swiatek is the 2021 BNL D’Italia Open champion after beating Karolina Pliskova, the number ninth seed, in 46 minutes. The Pole thrashed her opponent 6-0, 6-0 with the help of 17 winners as she lost only 13 points the entire match.

 

“I’m really happy, I’m kinda overwhelmed because at the beginning of this tournament I wouldn’t even dream of winning and it was super tough, we have to fight and obviously Karolina (Pliskova) had a great run here,” said Swiatek.

The number 15 seed got off to the best possible start having no issues in her opening service game and in the following game it was visible her Czech opponent was having issues with her serve.

Pliskova would serve a double fault to give the first breakpoint of the match and the Pole took to take an early 2-0 lead and from there it was one way traffic.

The number nine once again would double fault to gift another breakpoint at 3-0 and the 19 year old pounced with her powerful forehand to go up a double break and would break one more time to seal the first set in 19 minutes.

Fans at the Foro Italico were expecting a response in the second set from Pliskova but it was utter dominance from the Pole and again the number nine seed again struggled with her serve double faulting on breakpoint at 1-0 to once again give the early break.

There was a mini fight back from the Czech at 2-0 when she managed to earn two breakpoints to try and get back in the match but the number 15 seed would save both and hold serve.

The next game she continued to attack and play her aggressive game style earning two more breakpoints and breaking one more time to take a 4-0 lead and you could sense this match was going to be over very quickly.

Swiatek would seal the win with another one of her trademark forehand winners to take the match and the title which will boost her on Monday to number nine in the world and her first appearance in the top 10.

After the match Pliskova admitted today was not her day, “You have days like this in where things are not going your way,” Pliskova said in her trophy ceremony speech.

“That was the day today I still tried but it was not working for me. I will just quickly forget about today. I had some great matches here. Final is always a great week, great tournament.”

Both players will now head to Roland Garros with Swiatek looking to successfully defend her title.

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Internazionali d’Italia Daily Preview: Championship Sunday in Rome

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Novak Djokovic expended a lot of energy and emotion on Saturday in Rome (twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia)

On Sunday, it will be the 57th installment of the most prolific men’s rivalry of the Open Era, as Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal play for the men’s championship.  Djokovic is going for his record-extending 37th Masters 1000 title, and his sixth in Rome, while Nadal is looking to tie Djokovic with 36 Masters titles by winning Rome for the 10th time.  After playing for nearly five hours on Saturday, what will Djokovic have left in the championship match?

 

In women’s singles, Karolina Pliskova has reached her third consecutive final in Rome.  She’ll face the reigning Roland Garros champion, Iga Swiatek, who is making her WTA 1000 final debut.  In men’s doubles, Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic are one match away from an astounding sixth title of the season.  And in the women’s doubles, the final is yet to be set, as one semifinal is still to be played.

Karolina Pliskova (9) vs. Iga Swiatek (15) – Not before 2:30pm on Center Court

Each of these players have saved match points to reach this championship match: Pliskova against Ostapenko, and Swiatek against Barbora Krejcikova.  Outside of the match against Krejcikova, Swiatek has not dropped a set this week.  But unlike Pliskova, Swiatek had to play both her quarterfinal and semifinal on Saturday, spending almost twice as long on court.

Iga has now claimed 14 of her last 15 matches on clay, with her only loss coming at the hands of world No.1 Ash Barty.  Meanwhile, Karolina hasn’t reached a final or semifinal at any event held outside of Rome since January of last year.  As much as Pliskova has excelled the last three years in Italy, Swiatek’s recent form makes her the favorite in their first career meeting.  Iga’s more versatile game, and more positive attitude, give her a distinct advantage.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Rafael Nadal (2) – Not before 5:00pm on Center Court

Djokovic leads their overall head-to-head 29-27, but Nadal leads 18-7 on clay, and 5-3 in Rome.  This is their first match since last year’s Roland Garros final, which went decisively to Nadal in straight sets.  On clay, Rafa has now taken their last four encounters, with Novak’s last victory on this surface coming in the final of this event five years ago.

After saving match points and surviving an epic clash with Denis Shapovalov on Thursday, Nadal has won his last four sets by scores of 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.  That includes a straight-set victory over Sascha Zverev, who defeated him just a week prior in Madrid.  Following a few subpar performances this clay court season, Rafa appears to have found his top level, just in time for Roland Garros.  This is a familiar pattern for Nadal, and a big problem for Djokovic, who will certainly be playing on tired legs.  Neither of these men have been a Masters champion this year, but that will change on Sunday, and it will likely be Nadal.

Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (2) vs. Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (5) – Mektic and Pavic are a sensational 36-4 in their first season as a team.  Ram and Salisbury won last year’s Australian Open, but lost to Mektic and Pavic earlier this year in Miami.

Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara (4) vs. Sharon Fichman and Giuliana Olmos – the winners of this semifinal will face Kristina Mladenovic and Marketa Vondrousova in the championship match later in the day.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Nadal cruises past Opelka to reach 12th final in Rome

Rafael Nadal is into yet another final in Rome after beating Reilly Opelka.

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Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

The Spaniard eased his way past his 7ft American opponent to reach another final in the Italian capital.

 

Rafael Nadal is into his 12th final in Rome after beating the American Reilly Opelka in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 in 92 minutes in his 500th match on clay and only needed to hit 13 winners in the victory.

“It’s not an easy and beautiful match to play against a player like Reilly (Opelka) who only gives you a few options on your return and he can also play quite aggressive from the baseline, he has good shots and it was important for me to save those breakpoints at the beginning of the match”.

It was actually the American with the first chance to break in the match at 2-1 when he earned four chances to break but the Spaniard pulled out his big serve and saved all four before holding serve.

The very next game the Manacor, Mallorca native went on the offensive and earned his first breakpoint of the match and managed to convert on it to take the early 3-2 lead.

After consolidating the break the American saved three breakpoints with the Spaniard pushing for the second break but managed to hold serve and the number two seed would serve out the first set.

The second set followed a similar pattern to the first with both players holding their opening service games with ease and this time it was the world number three with the first chance to break.

Nadal would break at the third time of asking to once again take an early 2-1 lead and that one break was enough for him to serve out the match and set up a clash with either Novak Djokovic or Lorenzo Sonego.

In his post match interview Nadal spoke about the prospect of playing another final on Sunday in Rome.

“The work is done, I think I did a lot of things well, I had a good spirit the entire week, there are a lot of positive things I did on court this week and it’s important for my confidence to be back in such an important final, I will have a tough opponent either Djokovic or Sonego but I need to be ready, I need to play my best tennis and that is what I am looking for”.

Djokovic currently leads the head to head with Nadal 29-27 while Sonego has yet to face the Spaniard.

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