French tennis star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is preparing to play against a robot. Surprisingly, it's not Roger Federer, renowned for his robotically stiff commercial acting and machine-like winning ways (including those 17 Grand Slam singles titles). Today at 11 a.m. ET, at a practice session for the French Open, Tsonga will take on an actual automaton, which will try to hit shots past the world's eighth-ranked player based on tweets supplied by fans as part of a promotion for banking giant BNP Paribas (and agency We Are Social).
Fans visiting the Tweet & Shoot site can log in with Twitter and drag and drop tennis-ball icons to set up virtual shots, which are then encoded as hashtagged tweets which the on-court bionic Borg will decipher—and then spit out a real ball for Tsonga to hit. Users are also encouraged to include messages of encouragement to Jo-Wilfried, who has never won a Grand Slam event. Forty fans chosen by BNP's social communities are guaranteed to have their shots included at Tsonga's session with the robot. The rest will be picked at random from among the tweets. Folks with no lives whatsoever can check out Tweet & Shoot's streaming coverage of the event at the link above. Maybe the bot will blow a fuse, leap over the net and swat Tsonga like a fly.