TLTHE LATEST/18Jul13

/Visualisation

Wimbledon Final Scorestory 2013

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What better way to start my blog than with a celebration.

A week last Sunday a fairly significant piece of British Tennis history went down. Andy Murray, won Wimbledon. The first British male to win it since Fred Perry in 1936. However, the win seemed special for more than to highlight our fleeting tennis prowess. It was about the personal progress of Andy Murray and about an incredible tennis match.

I wanted to create something to help remember and illustrate the match and came up with this:

Visualisation of Men's Wimbledon Tennis Final 2013 - Murray vs Djokovic

 

/Motivation

Andy Murray just seems to get better. His Wimbledon history is great testament to that, only ever matching or bettering his tournament progress since his first appearance in 2005. In this match, he played like a juggernaut. I never felt he was going to lose and I don’t think I could have said that a year ago. No doubt Murray continues to get about his business, and as with many modern champions, I find this relentless pursuit of improvement so impressive.

Along with Murray’s personal achievements it was a fascinating match. There was unbelievable tennis, as should have been expected from these two players, but the scoreline felt like a roller-coaster, just with all the stops on one side.

/Tennis Scoring

Tennis scoring has always seemed a bit strange on the face of it. Origins are debated but it seems likely the French played some part and possibly eggs. I know the rules but with irregular totals and increments, score names (love/deuce), breaks of serve, two clear points sometimes, two clear games sometimes, tiebreaks there’s quite a bit to make sense of. The 6-4/6-3 scenario is a my classic – joining mid-set, it regularly takes me about 5 minutes to figure out whether someone is a break of serve up, or not. During and after matches I often find myself wanting a clearer picture, to review how things panned out. Commentary often cites key points and games but it is difficult to recall larger phases of play and the detail within them; the power swings, the collapses, the chances of winning the match, player characteristics etc. The conventional scoreboard alone can mask a lot of what actually went on. Perhaps a better picture could expose more of the detail and allow better interpretation of the match. As Murray was suddenly jogging back to his chair, preparing to serve for the championship, I thought it was a good time to have a go.

/The Graphic

I wanted to visualise the scoring information to allow better interpretation of the match, whilst also creating a little Murray Momento. The primary objective was to illustrate the Point-Game-Set structure and it’s progression through the match. Several secondary levels of information are there if you want to look deeper but hopefully without becoming too convoluted: Wimbledon history, Tournament History, Player Info. and a Match Summary. The base unit was the ‘Point’, with two clear axes: timeline on one (points progressing downwards), score total on the other. I kept things rectangular to reflect the tennis court geometry. The players score head-to-head, as if across the net, to help highlight the swings in play, the change of serve and also to free up some space for clarity. ‘How the points add up’ – I wanted to capture how a score accumulates up through point-game-set denominations, and that post ‘cashing-in’, previous points/games won become worthless. Break of serve is also obviously a key component for set victory, so there’s also some attention to that. I’ve tried to keep labelling to a minimum, predominantly because if something isn’t obvious the graphic isn’t really doing it’s job, but also to keep things free of clutter.

Aesthetics follow Wimbledon colours, player colours based on national flags/kit detail and hopefully the whole graphic looks a little bit like centre court! Overall, I think it succeeds in some things and not in others, but as always, time limitations prevail and a (pencil) line is drawn for now. I’d love to develop the visualisation further and I’ve a feeling it won’t be too long before Mr. Murray provides another bit of motivation.

/Murray vs. Djokovic Previous

Murray-Djokovic battles have been frequent of late. Djokovic is winning the war (11-7) but they’ve only played once before on grass, at Wimbledon last year, where Murray won to take Olympic Gold. There have been 4 subsequent battles, all finals, two for Grand Slams titles. Djokovic won 3 out of these 4 games most recent matches.

/Match Analysis

The start seemed key. Fantastic tennis with Murray standing up to Djokovic at his own game and pounding his way to 7 break points, before finally winning the 8th to break the second Djokovic service game. If the long rallies weren’t enough, defending 8 break points in 2 games argubly kinked the Djkovic adamantium, who was perhaps still perturbed by the toll of his five-set semi.

Murray’s break point conversion improved with each set, crucially winning 3/4 to take the final set from under Djokovic’s nose. There was a high proportion of service breaks. Seven of Murray’s 19 games in the match, were won against serve. Murray edged the ‘against-serve’ battle.

However, it was Murray’s defence of serve, particularly of ‘Deuce’ games, that was arguably more impressive. There were 8 ‘Deuce’ games in the match, 4 on each serve. Murray won all 4 of his. Djokovic won only 2 of his 4. This two game margin was enough to win Murray the first 2 sets. I imagine that while serving, on the back foot at ‘Deuce’, self-doubt and frustration is most rife. The strength here seems to be Murray’s most polished facet of late and is why I never felt he was going to lose the match. The women’s final was a fine example of how important this part of the game is. I hope he can keep this part of the MUZ-V2013 nice and shiny, because with it he plays like the best player in the world.

For the superstitious Djokovic fans, maybe it just wasn’t his day, with 13 break points and winning 13 games! And with that unscientific note, I think I should leave the analysis right there – the picture can convey the information much better than me.

/Whirlwind Finish

Murray completed a monumental turn around to take the final set. Perhaps the two set cushion gave enough pressure margin to facilitate the fightback, or perhaps Murray just played better tennis. Either way Murray suddenly found himself serving for the match.

A fantastic final game completed the perfect picture. It wouldn’t have been the same without a bit of drama. Murray marched straight to 3 championship points but then maybe the speed of the turnaround contributed to Murray’s first real fluster. Surely, achieving a lifelong dream, in front of the home crowd had nothing to do with it. Djokovic won the next 4 points with typical calm to flip the game on it’s head and put himself one point from bringing the set back level. But it was here, that new MUZ-V2013 systems came fully back online. Murray stoutly won 3 back-to-back break points at ‘Deuce’, before taking just the two points he needed to complete his historic victory.

A special match and a very special Wimbledon win. But with Murray playing like that, there’s every indication that it won’t be the last.

 

 

I’d love to hear what you think about the graphic or if you’d like any more information please don’t hesitate to get in touch.