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IBM serves up player tracking tools for Wimbledon fans

Tech giant unveils Watson AI features that will alert fans to new players and potential upsets

A lawn with Wimbledon 2021

IBM has announced a set of new AI-based fan experiences for this year's Wimbledon Tennis Championships, which are set to start on Monday.

The tech giant has a 30-year history with the competition, providing innovative features through its Watson AI service.

For the 2021 tournament, three new tools have been launched to help fans to engage with the action, including a 'Power Ranking' player leaderboard and personalised guides for spotting new tennis talent. These will be available through the Wimbledon website and official mobile apps.

"With reduced capacity on-site at Wimbledon this year, that digital engagement is more important than ever, and by leveraging AI and hybrid cloud technologies, fans can get the experiences they are used to - no matter where they watch the tournament," said Kevin Farrar, IBM UK's sports partnership lead.

The Power Rankings tool uses IBM Watson to analyse player performance and provide a daily update in the form of a leaderboard. It will focus on a player's most recent match history, combining advanced statistical analysis, the natural language processing of IBM Watson, and IBM Cloud to analyse daily performance data, mine media commentary, and measure player momentum tournament to tournament and match to match.

A series of predictive insights will then be generated, such as a "Ones to Watch" feature, an 'upset alert' where the Power Rankings favour a lower-seeded player, and win probability for each match.

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In a similar fashion, there is also a Watson-based feature for pre-match insights, which has already been used at the 2020 US Open. This will include a 'fact sheet' for every main draw singles match with AI-generated content for player insights that inform fans on current player performance stats ahead of each match. The fact sheet will also feature an 'In the Media' section that leverages IBM Watson Discovery to create a custom news archive, and natural language processing to extract key details about each player from trusted news sources.

The final innovation is 'Personalised Recommendations and Highlights Reels' which are created through a Rules-Based Recommendation Engine integrated seamlessly across Wimbledon's digital platforms. This will feature 'picked for you' recommended players, to help fans discover newer players by making suggestions based on their current favourite players.

The recommendations will evolve over the course of the tournament and alert the fan to newly recommended players, the company confirmed.

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