Tennis Ball

Although IBM may be a few years away from arming Watson with a tennis racquet, the technology has come a long way since it has been a U.S. Open partner.

"In the 90s, e-business was the big thing," Noah Syken, IBM vice president of global sponsorships, says with a laugh. "We needed to figure out how to bring the technology to fans."

Today's U.S. Open features an instant replay review system for the players and apps and streaming options for fans. It has been a revolution since 1990 when IBM got involved with tennis.

"It went from us needing a website to us needing a tech partner," says Nicole Jeter West, USTA senior director of ticketing and digital strategy.

IBM has focused on improving its real-time statistics the past few years. The IBM SlamTracker application follows the patterns of players (analyzing 41 million data points from eight years of Grand Slam tennis) to give fans insight into players' tendencies. New streaming analytics technology notifies the USTA of record-breaking achievements and milestones as they occur.

"Everyone has their inner commentator," says Elizabeth O'Brien of IBM Worldwide Sponsorship Marketing.

Even the chair umpire is installed with IBM materials to follow the stats of the match.

IBM is a partner at all four Grand Slams and follows players' movements' literally. Here is a graphic created specifically for the women's semifinals, which took place Friday.

Final 4 Distance Run

Someone needs to make Serena Williams move a little more. Update: OK, Roberta Vinci did.

And here's the men's semifinals infographic:

Men's Semifinals Graphic

Other IBM graphics from earlier in the tournament give crucial data for comparing and contrasting players. This is beneficial for fans, coaches, players and analysts.

Azarenka Halep Graphic

Men's Service Graphic

Serena Venus Graphic

Although IBM may be a few years away from arming Watson with a tennis racquet, the technology has come a long way since 1990.

"Data is a natural resource," Syken says.

After the U.S. Open, it is on to Melbourne, where IBM will take its next step at the 2016 Australian Open.

Fans wanting to follow and engage with IBM infographics during finals weekend can search #GameChangersIBM on Twitter. IBM has also introduced Simulcastr, a part of the U.S. Open app that allows fans to see matches from various perspectives throughout the venue (think Periscope in Arthur Ashe Stadium).

The U.S. Open women's final is Saturday. Men's final is Sunday.

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-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.

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