Tag Archives: Sports and Business

Sports always had many lessons for business to learn from. Analytics can help both Sports and Business achieve remarkable results.

Two Finals, Two Ties and a common winner

Two Finals, Two Ties, and the Common Winner

Veravizion 1 Comments

“Fed-ex is doing great; is gonna win the finals this time [sic],” said M.

“If the match goes beyond 4 sets, then Djoko will surely lift the Wimbledon trophy,” bet I.

M, a die-hard Federer fan with whom I am having almost fortnightly consulting sessions these days, and I were discussing about the possible Wimbledon-2019 winner. We had an unusual start of the day this week, playing the ‘let’s predict the Federer-Djokovic finals winner’ game, after India crashed out of CWC-19.

Suddenly, the Federer-Djokovic finals seemed more entertaining to watch.

In the end, both of us were right.

Fed-ex indeed did do great coming close to winning the title on two occasions. Djoko indeed lifted the trophy with Federer’s massive mis-hit in the end.

There he squats down to follow his winner’s routine of nibbling on a few blades of Wimbledon grass – the sweet taste of success!

. The Championships 2019. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. \{year4}{month0}{day0}\. Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

No, I do not intend to write this post telling how predictive analytics has helped predict Djoko to be the winner against Federer in today’s match.

Except, that is what this might turn out to be!

For the starters, a Federer-Djokovic match has gone beyond the realm of simple analytics.

Why?

Till date, Federer is the only gentleman (ahem… Wimbledon effect, you see!) to have beaten Djokovic in all four Grand Slam tournaments.

Similarly, Djokovic is the only man to have beaten Federer in all the four majors.

Federer has an all-time high number of 20 Grand Slam titles under his belt, while Djokovic, with today’s win, is not too far behind with 16.

Federer has held the world No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings for a record total of 310 weeks, while Djokovic continues to do so for over 250 weeks now.

The playing surface hasn’t been a decider either; both of them have beaten each-other on all surfaces.

Federer is marginally better on 1st serve win % (which is usually > 70%), while Djokovic only slightly trumps on 2nd serve win % (hovering around 60%).

And both gentlemen have achieved a career Grand Slam, two of only eight people to have done so, ever.

With such complex statistics behind the two greats, how do we conclusively analyse, and say that Djoko has a better chance at winning 2019?

Let’s consider these facts:

Federer and Djokovic have faced head-to-head 48 times, with Djoko winning 54% of the times (or 26 games) overall.

Federer dominated Djoko in 13 matches out of 19 (with a win % of 68.5) until 2010.

Since 2011, Djoko has beaten Federer 20 out of 29 times (with a win % of 68.9).

Isn’t this amazing?

Roger ruled the Wimbledon centre court until 2010, winning it 6 times.

Djokovic dominated (well, almost) the Wimbledon since 2011, winning it 5 times.

What comes next is even more amusing.

I had written in this 2015 Veracle on Lessons from Wimbledon Centre Court, how Federer’s winning points came off 5 rallies or less. And the more rallies he played (against Djokovic), the more likely he stood to lose.

Switch to 2019, Djokovic’s winning points came from 8 rallies or more; the more rallies he forced on Federer, the more unforced errors Federer rallied.

In 2015, Federer had 35 unforced errors against Djokovic’s 16.

In 2019, Federer rallied 62 unforced errors, 10 more than Djoko.

In 2015, Federer ran 5 meters more than Djokovic, for every point scored.

In 2019, Federer covered 7 meters more distance than Djokovic, for every point scored.

The Two Finals

Then, there is an uncanny resemblance in the match stats between 2015-final and 2019-final.

And I found it fascinating to compare the score-lines from the Wimbledon finals of 2009 and 2019.

2009 Wimbledon gentlemen’s final score-line:

Federer d. Roddick 5–7, 7–6(8–6), 7–6(7–5), 3–6, 16–14

2019 Wimbledon gentlemen’s final score-line:

Djokovic d. Federer 7–6(7–5), 1–6, 7–6(7–4), 4–6, 13–12(7–3)

See the only slight twist in the two score-lines? Just flip the scores of first two sets.

So much for the analytics…

Having said that, what a final it was! The longest one in Wimbledon history – and probably one of the most entertaining ones too?!

In the other tie, England defeated New Zealand with a margin as wide as a thin blade of grass.

In sum, when it comes to such close calls, nerves win. And DATA!

Just saying…

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Cover photo credit: Wimbledon.com

Wimbledon Centre Court

3 Lessons Every Executive Must Learn from Wimbledon Centre Court for Business Success

Veravizion 2 comments

Last Sunday, the men’s singles final at Wimbledon between Djokovic and Federer was an enthralling match. Federer had hoped to become the first man to win Wimbledon a record eighth time; and Djokovic seemed to have something to prove after his recent defeat at the French Open.

The mixed doubles final, also played later that afternoon, was relatively a one-sided affair. The Paes-Hingis pair staged a clinical performance to clinch the title by decimating their opponents within 40 minutes.

During the matches, the English commentator attributed Djokovic’s win to his skill, determination, power, and accuracy, and alluded to Federer as the ’33 year old tired opponent’. Interestingly, the same commentator (or it may have been another one) ascribed Paes–Hingis’ comprehensive win to their experience, homework, and coordination.

But why did Federer really lose, despite his stellar experience of ten Wimbledon appearances and near-perfect game? And how did the ageing pair of Paes (at 42 years) and Hingis (almost at 35 years) register such a convincing victory against a much younger team? So, what does it take to succeed at the highest level in sports? And what lessons, if any, can businesses take from Wimbledon?

The Centre Court at Wimbledon provides three crucial lessons for businesses to succeed:

1. Do your homework thoroughly. Federer’s serve is the key to his game; he tends to serve deep and aggressively goes for the kill on the return of the serve. During the semi-final clash with Andy Murray, Federer’s winning points came off 5 rallies or less (on an average); whereas Murray’s winning shots came from at least 8 rallies. Federer outplayed Murray winning more than 80% of points off his first serves.

While Djokovic’s own serves were lethal, he must have studied his opponent well and had perfected his returns too. He forced Federer to play more rallies by returning his serves into areas where Federer could not attack back. The longer the rallies continued, the farther Federer had to run, and the more he became prone to making unforced errors thereby strengthening Djokovic’s chances at converting them into winners. Djokovic’s most winning points came off rallies that lasted 8 or more shots.

EXHIBIT-A shows Federer committed unusually higher number of errors and had lower serving percentages against Djokovic as compared to those against Murray.

Wimbledon 2015 Semi-Final and Final Match Summaries

 

Similarly, companies operating in the marketplace must thoroughly understand their competitors. Companies must first comprehend how their serves (like introduction of new product, feature, or category) are going to be hit back by their competitors, and then plan their strategies based on those insights. If the retaliation is weak, the market leader wins the market share; whereas if the competitor does tit for tat, then the market leader is forced to choose between carrying on the duel (with further investments) and conceding the share to the competitor. While this is true in all industries, it is most evident in oligopolistic industries like FMCG, where there usually are two dominant players. For example, similar duel happened between P&G, which introduced Crest fluoride toothpaste in 1955, and Colgate-Palmolive, which had launched the world’s first commercial toothpaste.

 

2. Execute well. Djokovic executed his plan [to play long precision shots] perfectly. Many of his winning shots were executed so accurately that they scraped the outsides of the baseline and the sidelines.

In the mixed doubles final, Peya and Babos showed lack of coordination early in the game by crossing each other’s paths and getting mixed-up in returning shots. On the contrary, Paes and Hingis displayed an absurdly good performance by hitting powerful returns and playing deep cross-volleys at the nets. EXHIBIT-B displays their high serving percentages (in the 80s) and zero errors, which reveals a clean and flawless execution.

Wimbledon Mixed Doubles Final Match Summary

In business context, perfect execution of strategies is a pre-requisite to achieving long term success. There are innumerable examples of brilliant businesses going dud due to botched executions. Kodak, despite inventing the core technology in the digital cameras, failed to execute the strategy and went bankrupt. Few other examples of companies that fell due to failed executions are Atari, Research in Motion, and Woolworths.

 

3. Play to Win. The two finals played at the Centre Court made this third lesson very evident. In men’s singles, Djokovic lost the second set in tie-breaker because he seemed content to passively return Federer’s serve playing from outside the baseline. He just didn’t appear to be playing to win and that cost him the set.

However, the brief rain gave him an opportunity to clear his mind and bring back his focus on winning. In the third set, there was almost a different – calmer and more focused – Djokovic playing within the baseline only to win.

Likewise in the mixed doubles, Hingis and Paes were so focused on winning that they were actually enjoying the game right from the word go. Every rally and every return was confidently played by them to win the point (and eventually the title).

This is how great businesses compete too – to win! They take bold steps and confident actions in planning and executing their strategies. They strive very hard to grasp the real needs of their customers. They go all out in devising solutions that they know will address the real needs of their customers. They leave no stone unturned to market their offerings. For example, Steve Jobs was so badly persistent on winning that he stretched himself and his team members to no measures.

Djokovic summarized this point well when he said in the post-match conference,

“I am gonna [sic] have to win, he’s not gonna lose.”

 

References:
www.wimbledon.com
John A. Quelch, Jacquie Labatt-Randle: Colgate Max Fresh – Global Brand Roll-Out.

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