Tuesday, July 10

Just before we go...

Groundstaff scour the courts, in readiness
for pregerminated grass seed
Even before Andy Murray's Centre Court tears have dried, the All England Club is being transformed from its traditional Wimbledon championships guise into a London 2012 Olympics venue.

The London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) took control of the world's most famous tennis courts today, just 18 days before players begin battling for gold medals.

Aided by the use of pregerminated seeds, modern grow covers and hopefully lots of cooperation from Mother Nature, the lawns of Wimbledon — in all their iconic, green glory — will be ready to impress the world when Olympic tennis begins July 28...hopefully.

The iconic purple and green of Wimbledon is being
replaced with the pink of the Olympics
And while the courts may (or may not) be returned to their green and lush glory, the same cannot be said for the rest of SW19...

Already, the dark green canvas backstops on the outside courts have been replaced with the purple (looks more like pink to me) brand of London 2012, complete with Olympic rings, while the club's ground staff are busy restoring the lawns after their two-week battering during the rain-hit championships which ended on Sunday.

We, however, wont be there for the Olympics. But we may be back to report on the 2013 Wimbledon Championships...keep an eye open for us on twitter at @Wimble2012 - though a name change may be needed next year, of course.

Oh and thank you to the thousands of you who either followed this blog regularly or simply stopped by to take a look. We hope you liked what you found here. And a big thank you to my co-blogger; for those of you that may have thought this year's blog was a little on the dull side without gypsum's photographic input, all I can say is that it would have been a whole lot duller without Dr Joe.

Saturday, July 7

Crash Bang Wallop What A Picture

As I type, the world's sporting press are crowded around Centre Court, watching Serena Williams celebrate her victory over Agnieszka Radwanska in the Ladies' Singles Final.

But what about the photographers? This short video follows some around the grounds.

And I am sure that one of our own blogger team will echo the sentiments made by the final interviewee in the video. gypsum, globally-renowned for his breath-taking photos of all things large and small, is also the leading photo-processor for the wimbledon.com website. This year, however, the workload put upon him to process all the photos submitted by the photographers has been overwhelming, and that is why he has been absent from the blog. His contributions have been sorely missed.

So, I can only image that gypsum agrees with the final official photographer in this video. When asked how many photos he has taken during the Championships, he replies, simply, thus:

"How many? Pictures? Two weeks? Too much! Too Much!".

Friday, July 6

The Strength of The Sward

Immaculate grass at the start of the Championships
© Jon Buckle/AELTC
What a difference two weeks makes.

As you can see from the photos here, every game played on every court during the Championships takes its toll on the grass. From the pristine and immaculate lushness of the opening day, to the scuffed, worn and often barren soil - especially around the baselines - that we have as we approach finals weekend.

The grass planted has to survive in dry soil (despite what you may think with the numerous rain delays we have had this year). Expert research has again shown that a cut height of 8mm (since 1995) is the optimum for present day play and survival.

Courts are sown with 100 per cent Perennial Ryegrass (since 2001) to improve durability and strengthen the sward to withstand better the increasing wear of the modern game.

Independent expert research from The Sports Turf Research Institute in Yorkshire has proved that changing the grass seed mix to 100 per cent perennial ryegrass (previously 70 per cent rye/30 per cent creeping red fescue) would be the best way forward to combat wear and enhance court presentation and performance without affecting the perceived speed of the court.
Lines are freshened up every morning
© Neil Tingle/AELTC

Court maintenance
  • 1 ton of grass seed is used each year. 
  • Maximum of 3,000 gallons of water used during the Fortnight - weather permitting. 
  • All courts re-lined, rolled and mown daily during The Championships. 
  • Court wear, surface hardness and ball rebound are all measured daily. 
  • All courts renovated in September.
Lines and dimensions
  • Total area of grass on each of Centre and No.1 Courts is 41m x 22m. 
  • Singles Court is length 23.77m (78’) x width 8.23m (27’).
  • Doubles Court is length 23.77m (78’) x width 10.97m (36’).
  • Paint is not used to mark the lines on the court. A transfer wheel marker is used to apply a white compound (500 gallons used yearly) containing titanium dioxide to make it durable.
  • All the lines are 50mm wide, except the baselines, which are 100mm. 
Court covers 
  • All courts have been provided with covers since 1971. 
  • Centre Court’s cover weighs 1 ton and takes 17 people approx 22-28 seconds to cover the court. Made from a translucent material, the cover allows a greater amount of light to the grass. Air ventilation under the cover is aided by four large fans (two at either end). 
  • 160 Court coverers. 
  • Trained two weeks prior to The Championships – approx timings 22-28 seconds. 
  • Removing the umpire’s chair with umpire still sitting in it introduced in 2001. 
  • Centre/No.1 teams: 17 people to cover the court, two to remove the nets, two to remove umpire/linespersons chairs. 
  • Outer Courts teams: Courts 2, 3, 12 and 18 have 11 people, other courts have six people. 
  • Cover at Chair Umpire’s discretion. 
  • Referee inspects a court once the covers are taken off and before the court is dressed with the net etc.
  • Decision on timing of process made by the Head Groundsman or Referee.
Day 9 and the grass is looking more than a little battered.
© Tom Lovelock/AELTC
The perceived speed of a court is affected by a number of factors such as the general compacting of the soil over time, as well as the weather before and during the event.

The ball will seem heavier and slower on a cold damp day and conversely lighter and faster on a warm dry day. But the amount a ball bounces is largely determined by the soil, not the grass. The soil must be hard and dry to allow 13 days of play without damage to the court sub-surface.

To achieve the required surface of even consistency and hardness, the courts are rolled and covered to keep them dry and firm. Regular measurements are taken to monitor this.

There's a lot going on to make the courts playable. And this year, the groundstaff have just a few weeks to turn everything around before the Olympics come to SW19.

Good luck with that.

Thursday, July 5

There's an app for that...

What's this, has Dr Joe finally lost it? I must say going to the late night showing of Prometheus didn't help my state of mind, although it was the woman next to me who actually screamed. Yes you're right about the picture, certainly not a tennis ball and the wrong type of racket. It so happened that a recent badminton coaching session coincided with a rather exciting match on Centre Court. Andy Murray was a set and a break down against David Ferrer and then I had to go out.

It was a surprisingly good turn-out as most people opted to miss the match in pursuit of badminton greatness. Luckily I had already downloaded the new Wimbledon 2012 app and was able to keep the whole class up to date on the live scores, all they way to 5 all in the fourth set when the rain came down.  Sometimes I really love my phone!

The type of cloud we do need

You may remember that back before the Championships started I wrote about my fascination with what cloud services do for Wimbledon. Given the weather we've been having at SW19 I am sure there is scope for a lot of witty cloud-related word play, but just for once I'm not going to let myself get distracted by this opportunity.  I have actually been reading some blog posts by Doug Clark, the cloud leader for IBM UK and Ireland, and I wanted to share his 'A new spin on Wimbledon' post with you.  This simply lays out the benefits for the AELTC and other events of using cloud, and the fact we're probably all doing it without realising!

SecondSight on to Centre Court

Following on from the 2011 pilot on Court 18, IBM has been using player movement tracking this year on Centre Court.

With IBM SecondSight, it is possible to track the fastest moving players and how their performance changes, set by set and match by match. The system can provide new data that could help players, coaches, commentators and fans alike; and, add a new dimension to fan's understanding of the science of tennis.

“This year a completely new website takes the understanding and insight into the Wimbledon Championships to a whole new level,” said Alan Flack, IBM’s Programme Executive for Wimbledon. “Using the power of cloud computing each individual data point is integrated instantaneously to deliver a powerful experience for fans, players, coaches and officials alike.”

Keeping control

A line judge calls a ball good.
© Neil Tingle_AELTC
A couple of days ago, Dr Joe posted on this blog about the ground staff at Wimbledon; and yesterday it was the ballboys and ballgirls. So it seems only fair that the other, often unsung, heroes of the Championships get a mention too - the umpires and court officials.

There are 335 officials at The Championships working as chair umpires, line umpires or off-court staff. These officials cover more than 650 matches played during the Fortnight.

There are 240 British officials, all members of the Association of British Tennis Officials (ABTO) and approximately 70 overseas officials from all over the world, including the team of six ITF/Grand Slam Chair Umpires that officiate at all four Grand Slams and two ATP Full Time Officials.

Around 42 chair umpires are assigned each day, with the other officials working as Line Umpires. Chair Umpires normally umpire two matches a day, although not necessarily on the same court. Line Umpires work in teams and there are two line teams per court. These line teams work on a timed rotation (75 minutes on, 75 minutes off), with nine Line Umpires per team on court officiating on Centre Court, No. 1 Court, No. 2 Court, No.3 Court and Court 18, and seven line umpires on the other courts.

The Chief Umpire, Jenny Higgs, is responsible for the organisation of umpires for The Championships. Her role is to assign and supervise all of the officials each day. A custom-made computer system and a team of assistants help this process.

Chair Umpires use computers to score the match, with each point scored being displayed automatically on the wimbledon.com website. Net cord machines are used by the Chair Umpire on all courts, and the Hawk-Eye electronic system is used on Centre, No.1, No.2 and No.3 Courts to allow line calls to be reviewed.

Wednesday, July 4

Winning Wimbledon - with an infographic

Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge.

Today information graphics surround us in the media, in published works, in road signs and manuals. They illustrate information that would be unwieldy in text form, and act as a visual shorthand for everyday concepts such as stop and go.

These graphics present complex information quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education. With an information graphic, computer scientists, mathematicians, and statisticians develop and communicate concepts using a single symbol to process information.

I'm pretty sure they used to be called 'pictures' or 'graphics'. Regardless of this, now there's one for winning Wimbledon.

Resistance is useless!

I was extremely happy today when the BBC commentator compared Djokovic's ability to adapt to his opponent's game as being like that of the 'Borg'. It was the Vogons who used the phrase 'resistance is useless' before the Borg's 'resistance is futile' but I believe either would have applied to the first matches out on the show courts today.

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer both delivered quarter-final masterclasses, in straight sets, against Florian Mayer an Mikhail Youzhny respectively. At one point Youzhny appealed to Andre Agassi and the Royal Box for some advice on how to cope with Federer's onslaught. In less than two hours, including the rain delay, it was all over. The Russian won just four games. Germany's Florian Mayer did manage to take nine games from Novak but again he didn't come close to really threatening the defending champion. So we can now look forward to what promises to be an explosive semi-final.

BBGs - safer than Murray's pockets!

Each year around 700 boys and girls apply to spend two weeks in the summer chasing and collecting tennis balls during the Championships. The ball boys and ball girls, or BBGs, are so much a part of the furniture that you could be forgiven for not noticing them and in some respects that is how they'd like it. The chances are if a BBG is in the spotlight it's because they've made a mistake or had the misfortune to slip over when going for the ball.

The BBGs, aged 15 on average, begin training over four months before the start of Wimbledon. The final squad will number 250 and they need to fit and disciplined, as well as have a good understanding the game. They are also taught how to stand still and must be able to hold the pose without fidgeting for a long time.

No matter what emotions the players are going through the BBGs need to maintain their unintrusive, professional manner at all times on court. They are constantly vigilant for stray balls and avoiding serves coming at them at over 100 mph. They have even been involved in moments of levity such as Del Potro teasing a ball boy during a match at Wimbledon against Nadal last year. It did get a laugh from the crowd and it will long be a talking point for the young lad involved.  You can see it here on YouTube.

Rufus flies again

That was a nervous couple of days I can tell you.  Were my nails bitten down watching Andy Murray battle into the night against Marcos Baghdatis?  Well yes they were however the news that Rufus had been 'stolen' caused extreme consternation.

In case you've been unconscious since last Friday, Rufus is a Harris hawk whose main responsibility is to gently persuade the pigeons of SW19 that they should flap off and build their nests somewhere else.  He vanished from his cage overnight and wasn't even wearing his radio transmitter so nobody knew where he was.  Fortunately Harris hawks are not often seen on Wimbledon Common so once spotted he was soon back with his owners, the Davis family.

Apart from a slight leg injury he appears to have come through his ordeal unscathed. After a day's rest and a few press conferences Rufus is back flying over Centre Court today.  We can only speculate as to the nature of his disappearance, perhaps the pigeons tried to organise a hit?

Tuesday, July 3

The statistics behind winning

As the Wimbledon 2012 finals draw closer, Kevin Mitchell from The Guardian takes us on an in-depth journey through some key matches of past championships.

With the help of official statistics provided by IBM he gives his insight into the statistics that matter, and what it really takes to win Wimbledon

If you are having trouble viewing the video embedded in this page, please view the original here.

Second Tuesday: Ladies' Quarter Final Day...

Some more photos from behind the scenes.
And on a day like today, they're mainly indoor or umbrella-related.

A vintage lawnmower on display
at the Wimbledon Museum.
© Neil Tingle_AELTC
A member of the grounds crew readies
a court for the eighth day of action.
© Neil Tingle_AELTC
A chair umpire holds an umbrella during a rain delay.
© Chris Raphael_AELTC
Grounds crew members pull the cover
over Centre Court during a rain delay.
© Matthias Hangst_AELTC
Fans sit under umbrellas during a rain delay.
© Neil Tingle_AELTC
A fan sits under an umbrella during a rain delay.
© Matthias Hangst_AELTC

Ground staff day

With over 42 acres to cover there is an absolute army of staff needed to keep the Wimbledon Championships running smoothly. Around 6,000 staff work behind the scenes and it's not just dishing out around 27,000 kilos of strawberries.

The famous Wimbledon turf on all the courts is kept at a length of 8mm and a dedicated crew ensure the playing conditions are perfect. This year the challenge is even greater than usual as head groundsman, Eddie Seward, has just 20 days before play starts in the Olympic tennis tournament. Everyone will expect the grass courts to be at their best for the Games so as soon as the Championships are over Eddie and his team will be working harder than ever.

This short video is a quick look at the people in the background and the different jobs they do.

Monday, July 2

Photos from around the grounds: Week two begins

 A few more photos from behind the scenes at the Championships.

The umbrellas are out at the All England Club
© Neil Tingle/AELTC
Members of the grounds crew ready the courts for action
© Neil Tingle/AELTC
Ball boys and girls line up in preparation
© Neil Tingle/AELTC
Ball boys and girls pose for a group photograph
© Tom Lovelock/AELTC
A camera operator films a match
as the sun sets at Wimbledon
© Jon Buckle/AELTC
Rufus the hawk has returned to
the All England Club after being stolen.
© Tom Lovelock/AELTC
A fan hides under an umbrella at the All England Club
© Neil Tingle/AELTC


More photos will be following soon...

Saturday, June 30

Photos from around the grounds: Week one

 A small collection of photos from the first week of the Championships.
A line judge opens a can of fresh tennis balls
© Neil Tingle/AELTC
A chair umpire measures the net before a second round match
© Neil Tingle/AELTC
A service man stands on Centre Court
© Neil Tingle/AELTC
Fans on Henman Hill cheer on Roger Federer
© Tom Lovelock/AELTC
Security checks on Court 18 with a sniffer dog
© Neil Tingle/AELTC
Service personnel gather together
© Neil Tingle/AELTC
A ballgirl rolls a ball across court
© Jon Buckle/AELTC
Spectators gather on Day Five
© Matthias Hangst/AELTC
Rackets are re-strung in the racket stringers workshop
© AELTC/Tom Lovelock
Fans set up for the night for day four action
© AELTC/Tom Lovelock

More photos will be following soon...

Friday, June 29

Shutting the roof can give you fuzzy balls

You know that £80 million roof they fitted? The one they shut last night to let the match between Rosol and Nadal run on late into the evening? Well, I don't want to rain on anyone's parade (or Centre Court), but there may be some issues about its use. (But then again, maybe not).
Steve Haake: ball expert
Steve Haake, professor of sports engineering and the head of the Centre for Sports Engineering Research at Sheffield Hallam University, has written an article that looks at the impact of playing under the closed Centre Court roof. It's a great read and, for idiots like myself, even has pictures to show what he's talking about. And the section headings are nice and simple: The British weather, A 130 mph serve, Size really does matter and The best guess.

Yup, got it. All very straight forward.

But one word of warning: Don't be fooled by his easy & conversational manner of writing. Before I knew it, I was reading this:

 "...since the atomic weight of water vapour is 18 g compared to 29 g for air and there is now less water vapour around, click here for a detailed explanation...".

Under no circumstances should you click on the 'click here'. I did, and my tiny, non-scientific head exploded. That aside, the article explains why playing under the closed roof may (or may not) slow down (or speed up) the balls. But he comes to the (scientific) conclusion that the most likely reason that Things May Be Different under the closed roof is, quite simply, fluff.

He says: "...the effect is to increase the wetting of the felt and enhance the fluffing up of the ball. A simple solution could be to change the balls when the roof closes..."   That makes sense. I understand that.

He ends with this simple suggestion:

"Watch the players next time the roof closes at Wimbledon – if the players start inspecting the felt and throwing balls away, then they are likely to be choosing the least fuzzy ones."

It felt like he wrote that bit especially for me to understand.

Read the full article.

A disturbance in the force?

It's like watching your favourite TV show and one of the main characters is killed off without warning.  It leaves you feeling bewildered, questioning what just happened.  Was it all just a surreal dream? Well no, and in fairness to Rafael he didn't play that badly - Lukas Rosol just played out of his skin in what is being called 'one of the biggest shocks in the tournament's history.'

Less than a month ago Rafael Nadal won his 11th grand slam title and I don't think anyone would have bet on him not making it past day four of this year's Wimbledon.  The match statistics make for interesting reading, it really wasn't that one-sided and is sure to keep the pundits busy analysing what happened.  From Andy Murray's point of view it does clear the way somewhat, since Nadal has been his semi-final stumbling block in the past.  It's shaping up to be an interesting second week.

Looking ahead to day five, Djokovic and Federer play their third round matches on Centre Court, punctuated by Heather Watson taking on Agnieszka Radwanska.  Hopefully the young British player will have something to smile about.

Broadcasting Wimbledon

As included in this blog entry a few days ago, we followed a cable from the data entry specialist high above Court 18 all the way down to the IBM team in 'the bunker', in the depths of the Broadcast Centre.

Of course, that was just one cable linking just one data entry computer to just one server. There are numerous data entry teams, covering all the matches that are being played across all the courts. Every serve, return, double fault, ace, foot fault - everything, in fact - is captured and instantly sent to the IBM servers to process and turn into meaningful data.

Then there are all the cables that link the IBM machines to those that use the data - predominently the BBC and the Wimbledon.com website.

But by far the most numerous cables belong to the television companies that descend on SW19 during the Championships. And this year, there seem to be as many camera crews dashing around the grounds as there are tennis players.

The first of the following two videos looks at the some of the global teams and they explain why Wimbledon, more than any other Grand Slam, holds such an enduring appeal the world over - from Denmark to Japan.

This second video looks at one of the American broadcasters and shows the work they do during the two weeks of the Championships.
You need a lot of cables.

Tennis: A Most Foolish Notion

So Rafa Nadal was beaten last night by the obviously very talanted Lukas Rosol.

However, if you were to look at the Twitter feeds, you would have thought that perhaps we were being invaded by aliens or The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse had stormed onto Centre Court.  #SHOCK #disaster #whyohwhy #howonearth #hysterical.
My favourite that I saw was simply: "Rafa! Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo....(repeating until all 140 characters permitted by Twitter were used up).

So, this morning's slightly frivolous post is dedicated to all Nadal fans around the world....

The image below is of a print made by Martin Droeshout between 1620 and 1630, entitled To this grave doctor millions do resort

It's a satirical broadside on the folly that is to be found in all ranks of society. It depicts the interior of an apothecary's shop, with the doctor using wisdom to purge a countryman seated on a stool, who defecates foolish notions represented by asses and geese. Next to them, a wealthy city merchant awaits to be given his dose of treatment, while a fashionably dressed woman holds a squirrel on a lead...as you did, obviously, if you were a fashionably dressed woman around town.

Meanwhile, a young courtier's head is inserted into a furnace so that his idle pastimes go up in a cloud of smoke carrying playing-cards, a backgammon board, musical instruments, extravagant clothes - and tennis rackets.

It would appear that tennis wasn't to be taken too seriously...
Foolish notions
You can read more about the history of tennis - and Wimbledon - on the history page of this blog. We also have a 'Did you know..?' page up and running. Links to both can be found in the sidebar to the right. Please leave us a comment if you have any that we've missed and we'll add it to the list!

Thursday, June 28

A tall order for Murray?

The second match on Centre Court today sees Andy Murray taking on Croatian, Ivo Karlovic.  Andy has won their three previous encounters although he knows he may not get things all his own way and this will be quite a different experience from his first-round match against Nikolay Davydenko.  Ivo Karlovic is 6'10" tall before he puts on his grass court tennis shoes and from this lofty position he has hit 305 aces from his 21 matches this year.

It must be the day for top seeds taking on the tall guys of tennis as next up on Centre will be Rafael Nadal against 6'5" Czech, Lukas Rosol. They have never played before but Rafa is expected to have the upper hand.  It will be interesting to see what SlamTracker comes up with for these matches.

Well, just about an hour to go before the show courts start buzzing, it's only day 4 but shaping up to be another great Championships!

Wimbledon.com: The Beauty or The Beast?

Reading through the plethora of Wimbledon-related comments on Twitter, there appear to be two things that have got some fans' blood simmering (boiling would be too strong a word; these are civilised tennis fans after all).

One is the roof. And the fact it wasn't closed on Tuesday evening. Well, I must say that I'm with the Officials on this one: Wimbledon is an outdoor Championship. Not an indoor one that happens to have grass growing inside. But I will be discussing the roof in more detail in a later post on this blog.
The other thing that has drawn mixed reactions from fans is the new Wimbledon.com website. This is looking like a real Marmite opinion generator; people seem to either love it or hate it.

The All England Club and IBM said Wimbledon.com has been completely re-designed to reflect the 'heritage and appeal' of the event and provide visitors with a more creative and immersive experience through improved content, more powerful imagery and intuitive navigation process.

Built on IBM’s Smartcloud infrastructure to meet surges in demand, the website integrates a new online broadcast channel, Live @ Wimbledon, alongside the interactive analytics-enabled IBM SlamTracker scoreboard.

Featuring TV and radio, Live @ Wimbledon will blend live action from around the grounds by dropping into matches at crucial points in play with the “off-court colour of a day at The Championships”. The resident presenters are former players Mats Wilander and Annabel Croft.

“We've created a new website which features increased options for people to personalise their Wimbledon experience," said Mick Desmond, commercial director, at the All England Club. "Visitors can follow the progress of their favourite players, view live match play clips of the day’s action, and access scores and results delivered in real-time.  We expect this increasingly engaging and personalised online experience to appeal to fans in ever greater numbers.”

Meanwhile, SlamTracker is designed to provide fans with deeper insight into matches through predictive analytics technology. It's a multifaceted feature of Wimbledon's digital presence that uses both historical and real-time data to add depth and insight to the Championship experience. The Momentum capability maps a match in real-time, visualising key turning points and their causes, such as winners, aces and so on.

The Keys to the Match feature in SlamTracker uses both historical and immediate data to determine the top three things a player must do in order to do well in a specific match. And it's proving to be very accurate.

And as mentioned in our earlier post about SlamTracker, it's an example of how analytics drives insights for tennis, the uses for businesses are almost infinite.

Personally, I love the new website. It gives far greater understanding and insight into the Wimbledon Championships. It feels like it has a lot of computing power behind it and it is giving a great experience for fans, players, coaches and officials alike.

But I can imagine that such technological advances may be too much for some. I guess there are those that find too much innovation and change a little daunting.

And you can probably spot them quite easily: They'll be the ones shouting "Come on Tim!" at their televisions. Which they probably bought from Rumbelows. In 1983.

Wednesday, June 27

The roof is out there

Naturally our preferred view would be a big blue sky but the £80m retractable Centre Court roof, built in 2009, is back in use today. Last year 41 matches on outside courts were lost in a single day due to the rain. As well as protection from the unpredictable English weather the roof has allowed matches to carry on when bad light would previously have stopped play. In 2010 the Djokovic v Rochus match didn't end until 10.59pm, around 90 minutes later than play would have ended without the roof. Play is always suspended at 11pm regardless of the conditions.

The roof can be closed in under 10 minutes although it takes about half an hour for the air management system to remove condensation and ensure the surface conditions are ideal for tennis.  A roof for Court One has been discussed but it has not been confirmed even as a long-term plan. Perhaps Sir Cliff needs to get tickets for matches played here just in case he's needed for impromptu entertainment in the future!

SlamTracker: What is it & how does it work?

We followed four main matches yesterday (Robson v Shiavone, Tsonga v Hewitt, Nadal v Bellucci and Murray v Davydenko), and tweeted to the Wimble2012 Twitter account whenever SlamTracker threw up some news-worthy statistics. 

And every one of the 'Keys to the Match' were 100% correct. It meant we could share our comments on who we thought would win a match significantly earlier - and with more confidence - than others.

But what exactly is SlamTracker?

SlamTracker is IBM's tennis scorecard, designed to provide real-time scores and statistics to share around the world on a variety of devices for all matches in progress.

But SlamTracker is more than just a scoreboard. It's been evolved it into multi-functional analytics dashboard that uses sophisticated analytics software to provide:
  • New ways to enhance the experience of a tennis match.
  • Real-time visualisation of a tennis match using the scores and statistics.
  • 'At a glance' view, which provides fans with a visual representation of the match to help indicate which player is winning and which player currently has the 'momentum'.
  • An enhanced fan experience which deepens their relationship with the tournament by allowing them to interact with the scores and stats to gain deeper insight into a match.

SlamTracker also uses analytical software to present the 'Keys to the Match' feature.

And this bit is really nifty...

The software studies the past seven years' worth of Grand Slam data to look for patterns. In particular, it looks at every time two players have met each other, and works out what three things each player must do if they are to stand a chance of winning. These are known as the 'three keys', and an example might be 'Nadal has to serve consistently above 113mph' or 'Roddick has to win more then 29% of first serves with an ace'.

The 'three keys' are published just before the match commences, and the SlamTracker 'Keys to the Match' dashboard is updated in real time assessing progress against each key for each player.

And if you want to load SlamTracker and see it for yourself, click here.

Tuesday, June 26

Rain suspends play. Already.

Well. We managed to get as far as day two before play was suspended.
While we wait for games to restart (or the roof to be shut), here is a short video from last year featuring Elena Baltacha, who explains why playing in the rain is not A Good Thing.

More later...


Day one of the Championships saw world number one, Novak Djokovic, entertaining the Centre Court crowd by pulling a golf club out of his racquet bag. His fans were quick to point out he wasn't on the golf course and realising his 'mistake' he meekly unwrapped a brand new tennis racquet. So fully equipped, he went on to defeat Juan Carlos Ferrero in straight sets. The defending champion remained relaxed and upbeat at his post-match press conference where he kept the laughs coming with tales of his dog Pierre - even Maria Sharapova couldn't resist joining in!

For me, being somewhat easily amused, first day silliness came in the form of #wimbledonfilms, a thread on Twitter where people contributed such plays on words as 'Full Metal Racket' and 'Chalk The Line'. Twitter has been busy with all the news from Wimbledon and our very own account Wimble2012 reporting early on that Venus Williams was not hitting her three 'keys' and was heading for defeat. The five-time Wimbledon champion lost in straight-sets to Elena Vesnina. So on to day two and it's a packed schedule with Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Petra Kvitova, Serena Williams and Andy Roddick in action... I can't wait!

And now for something completely different...

Here's a gentle start to Day 2 of the Championships for you...a rather charming cardboard cartoon video from Robin Ward.

More later...

Monday, June 25

Win tickets for the Women's singles final

Enter this competition and you could be at the Women's Singles Final on Saturday 7 July. The prize also includes a three-course lunch prior to the match at the Wingfield restaurant, which is located within the centre court building.

Advantage Wimbledon

So as the first day gets underway, I find myself almost overwhelmed by the multitude of media that is carrying Wimbledon infomation. Personally, I have one laptop running SlamTracker and Live@Wimbledon, another following live broadcasts, an iPad following Twitter feeds and the Wimbledon app and of course the television (but which channel to choose? And what about the red button, too?)

I am an end-user in this flow of infomation; it starts with the data entry specialists. But between them and me is the IBM team who collect & collate every bit/byte and turn it into something meaningful. This short video goes someway to explaining how it all happens.

Oh...and not forgetting the cables. Miles and miles of cables. This 60-second video follows just one cable from the data entry team's lofty position above Court 18 all the way down to 'the bunker'.

Quiet please...play

The crowds are let in to the grounds...and then 'kettled' in a most civilised manner.

As 10.30 approaches, a disembodied voice announces over the P.A. "Will the Stewards please open the gates". The World's press await the mad dash.

Fans dash for the outside courts to secure unreserved seats for the matches they want to see. Others, with prized show court tickets, take their time and ponder whether 10.30 is too early for a stop at the champagne stall or whether they would be better off sticking with strawberries & cream (apologies for cliché).
Play begins at 11.30 this year...thirty minutes earlier than previous years.

Very civilised kettling
The World's press await the mad dash
Too early for champagne?
A healthier option (exc. the cream)

More later...

Saturday, June 23

Flamin' June: rain & court covers

The last Friday before the Championships begin is always a flurry of activity.

And amongst the fleets of white vans deliverying essential supplies and forklift trucks moving bulkier items all around the grounds, a few players wait for the rain to stop so they can get on court and practise. But then, as is so often the way with British Summers, the rain suddenly stopped and the groundstaff used the opportunity to run through their 'covers-off' procedure.

Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and both Williams sisters were out practising at various times betwen the downpours.

One good thing about all the rain we have had so far: Henman Hill is looking lush. Good enough to play tennis on.

Serena Williams
Venus Williams
Novak Djokovic
3-D viewing available this year
Going to need a bigger pot
Flamin' June

The lushness of Henman Hill

The ground covers billow in the wind, giving the impression of rolling waves.

Groundstaff run through their 'covers-off' proceedure.