Novak Djokovic Used A.I. to Train for Wimbledon
A supply chain management company applied its tech to tennis. It worked.
Just watching was a feat of endurance. The 2019 men’s final at Wimbledon lasted four hours and 57 minutes, making it the longest on record at the All England Club. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic seemed to be perfectly matched, until they weren’t. In the end, Djokovic prevailed, and fans were left to debate what allowed the Serbian great to finally notch the win.
They would probably be surprised to learn that some of Djokovic’s advantage could have come from artificial intelligence, which he incorporated in his game for the first time during this year’s Wimbledon.
It all started with a tennis-loving father-son team whose careers are rooted firmly in the more quotidian world of supply chain management. Ed Frazelle and his son Andrew are the owners of Atlanta-based RightChain, an advanced supply chain optimization, planning, and analytics software company. Most of RightChain’s clients — which include Fortune 500 giants like Colgate, Caterpillar, Ford, Baxter, and Coca-Cola — want to find the most efficient way to move product from manufacturing to the customer’s hands.
A.I. for tennis like that developed by RightChain provides an extremely detailed view of how players and their opponents approach the game.
But the Frazelles wondered if the same concepts that work for supply chain management could be applied to tennis. “When you get down to it,” says Ed, “the game of tennis is all about getting the ball from point A to point B.”
His logic, it turns out, was on point.
A perfect match
Ed first learned of tennis analytics when he took some tennis clinics run by a colleague of Djokovic’s strategy analyst Craig O’Shannessy. “We got to chatting about data analytics and its role in tennis today,” says Frazelle. “I reached out to Craig to see if we could potentially help him take that to the next level.”
O’Shannessy runs a match analysis company called Brain Game Tennis and has been working with Djokovic, among other pros, since…