Can the media predict another Murray Wimbledon win?
30 Jun 2015 12:00 am by Leela Bozonelis
The sun is out, temperatures are rising and the fans are flocking to Murray Mount in anticipation of Britain's No 1 taking his second Wimbledon title.
Andy Murray himself says that he is in the best form of his career and is confident that he can follow up his first Wimbledon crown, which he took in 2013 after comprehensively beating Novak Djokovic.
This year's draw has not been kind to the Scotsman, with three of the world's top players – Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – all potentially blocking his route to the final. The silver lining – if it is one – is that Murray cannot meet world number one Djokovic until the final itself. Critics might point to Murray's recent record against the top seeds, notably against Djokovic to whom he has lost in 19 of their 27 meetings, the most recent being his defeat at the French Open in May of this year.
However, the critics would do well to consider what happened in 2013 when Murray faced a similarly daunting draw – then he was on the same side as all the other top seeds except Djokovic. Yet Murray went on to beat Djokovic in straight sets and end Britain's 77-year wait for a men's Wimbledon champion.
Who is the bookies' choice?
If the draw looks similar to the one that Murray faced in 2013, then the similarity with that year's odds offered by bookmakers is even more striking. Two years ago, the bookmakers had Djokovic as narrow favourite, Murray close behind followed up by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
This year it is a near carbon copy. Djokovic is (barring upsets in the next couple of days) the narrow favourite again on 5/4 and Murray is on 5/2 while Federer is third favourite with Nadal an outside shot at 14/1 in fourth.
An analysis of the odds offered for the last four tournaments suggests that the bookies have a high success rate predicting the men's finalists, if not the winner himself. Even allowing for the bias in the odds caused by patriotic punters plumping for the home favourite, the average gambler would be advised not to bet against another Murray -Djokovic final given the bookmakers' record.
What does the media coverage tell us?
Patriotism sells papers but, even allowing for this, it is worth considering the correlation between media coverage and the eventual Wimbledon men's champion.
In 2013, hot on the heels of his success at the 2012 Olympic final when he destroyed Federer, Murray did not become the outright favourite amongst the newspaper jpurnalists until Wimbledon fortnight itself. Prior to the tournament opening, he was either in third or fourth place behind Djokovic, Federer, Nadal and David Ferrer.
This year, the LexisNexis Media Tracker is slightly different but paints a similar picture to the omens of the draw: Murray has held a consistent lead of 10 articles or more over his Serb nemesis since mid-May, with Federer in third and this year's French Open champion, Swiss Stan Wawrinka, in fourth. Interestingly, Nadal does not feature in the top five, perhaps reflecting his relatively poor form on grass and disappointing Wimbledon record.
So who is the man?
Of course there is no such thing as a dead cert in sport. However, it may be worth taking a broad view for this year's tournament.
Punters traditionally read form, look at head-to-head records and cast their eyes over the draw. While only the brave would confidently forecast a Murray win based on these three factors, a sensible punt based on the media coverage, the odds and the draw, would be to bank on another Murray - Djokovic final.
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