Tennis-Goerges's innovation heralds data-based future

PARIS Wed May 28, 2014 5:46pm BST

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PARIS May 28 (Reuters) - Ten minutes after Julia Goerges finishes a match, she can analyse how many forehands she played and why her second serve may have been giving her problems.

At this week's French Open, the German has been the first player at a major tournament to use a so-called "connected racquet", which stores data on performance in an app in the racquet's handle.

"It (the racquet) feels exactly the same, it's just it has the data inside and you can do all these cool things with it," Goerges told Reuters.

"It's about putting the pieces of the puzzle together."

The player presses a button on the handle to turn on the app and every shot is measured during the match. The data can then be downloaded via Bluetooth on to a mobile phone or computer.

The data from Goerges's first-round win over Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal show which part of the strings were used for each shot - services, forehand and backhand.

Each shot is measured via a triangle of endurance, power and position in the search for optimal performance.

Goerges says the data from matches is more useful than that from practice. She is beginning to talk through what the data reveals with her coach.

"You can see how aggressive you were, how many forehands you did and how many opportunities you had also to play forehands or backhands," she remarked.

Goerges's serve did not function well in the second half of her defeat on Wednesday to Canada's 18th seed Eugenie Bouchard and she is hoping the app will tell her why.

"You can see how the power was and how many kick serves you did. I think it's going to be interesting today," she said with a small laugh.

"You can see the sweet spot, you can see exactly where you hit it on the racquet.

"It's just the beginning right now, I've not got a lot of data yet but I will try to improve (it) obviously.

"If you have the records longer and more data you can compare it better, that's a good thing to have."

LIVE INFORMATION

The Babolat company, which supplies tennis products, developed the technology over the past decade. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) adopted a rule covering the new technology at the start of the year.

The only restriction covers the use of live information for coaching during a match.

"They asked me if I would be interested in playing with the racquet and I said yes. It's something cool for me because, especially in my game, I feel you can always see some good things for yourself which you might not see in the match," Goerges said.

"Sometimes you are in the emotions and stuff, and you sometimes lose the vision (to see) things. It's a good thing."

Data usage by coaching staff has increased enormously in most sports in recent years and Goerges, while impressed by the data, feels a player's natural instincts will hold sway for some time yet.

"I think a player can feel it. I think you get the sense of it, the feeling for what you've got to do better. It's coming over the ages and with the matches you have played," she added.

"But what you have in the (data) record is pretty impressive, I must say." (Reporting by Robert Woodward; editing by Mark Meadows)

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