Andy Murray’s arrival on the professional tennis scene some eight years ago may not have brought instant devotion from the British public, but data collected on social media during his historic Wimbledon campaign suggests the triumphant Scot has finally won our hearts.
US giant IBM, now in its 24th year as Wimbledon’s technology partner, has been meticulously gathering data via its analytics systems throughout the tournament, and logged Murray as the most talked about player on Twitter with an overwhelmingly positive sentiment in the public’s tweets.
With 1.1 million mentions on the social network, Murray unsurprisingly attracted comfortably more attention than his peers. But whereas bygone years would have seen a fair amount of negativity dished out at the British number one for his dour personality and big-game disappointments, a huge 93.3 per cent of Murray tweets were deemed positive by IBM’s sentiment-tracking systems.
Only home-grown women’s starlet Laura Robson surpassed Murray in the sentiment stakes at this year’s Wimbledon, with 94.7 of her tweets ranked positive.
Novak Djokovic was forced to endure defeat in the social media realm on top of the straight sets slump on Centre Court yesterday, with his 860,000 mentions falling some way behind Murray. Behind the second-place Serb was women’s runner-up Sabine Lisicki, who came third in IBM’s charts with 300,000 mentions.
The prominence of social media alongside major sporting and social events was again illustrated during Wimbledon 2013, as an incredible 5.3 million tweets referenced the Championships – more than double the 2.5 million from last year. IBM has been seeking to harness the big data splurge for fresh analysis and insight, with the sentiment tracker on social networks being one example of its team turning statistics into intelligence.
This data examination formed part of IBM’s SlamTracker, a key tenet of the firm’s analytics network for Wimbledon. By using eight years of grand slam tennis data and individual player analysis, SlamTracker shows players, fans and broadcasters how each contest will be won or lost according to playing styles and tactics. A whole host of other IBM systems at Wimbledon can be explored via its Wimbledon Insights website.
Addressing the social media explosion around this year’s tournament, IBM’s Big Data Solution Architect, Chris Thomas said, "We’ve seen an unprecedented response to this year’s Championships with audiences around the globe taking to Twitter to cheer on their heroes both on the court and in the crowds.
“Such a huge response proves that the sport is attracting a wider fan-base across the globe. As technology develops, we no longer have to rely on seeing a game in person – or even necessarily watch it on TV. Whether watching at home or on the go, nowadays there are more ways than ever for fans to get involved and not just to enjoy the Championships, but really become part of it.”