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by Graham Cookson
in Big Data , Sports betting
on 14 July 2014

Sports betting: Part 2: How Andy Murray lost his Wimbledon crown

In part two of our blog series on spotting the outside influences that can affect sports betting odds, we will look at an example of how one of the world's top sports personalities was affected by external factors at a recent international event.

Spotting these outside influences

It’s hard for bookmakers to second-guess or predict definite results on sporting events; even if something seems like a certain outcome, there is no guarantee.

For example, this year’s Wimbledon saw a shock defeat when the defending champion, Andy Murray, lost in straight sets to Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov.

According to the Independent, before the match the odds on Dimitrov to win were at 4:1 and Murray’s were at 1:31 – clearly the bookies favourite was Murray.[1]

However, watching the match you could clearly see that Murray was not playing at the top of his game. It would be one thing if Dimitrov was known for being a more talented player, but despite the Bulgarian’s impressive skills, Murray is arguably the better player when he is playing at the top of his game.

But who could have predicted that Murray’s performance would have been lacking on the day? Well, in the build up to the tournament, there were clues out there. They just perhaps weren’t what bet makers or bookies would necessarily look for when placing bets or setting odds.

The day after his defeat, a report on the Telegraph’s website might have helped shed some light on the reasons why Andy Murray lost; and all of them are related to external situations.[2]

According to the report, Andy Murray and his girlfriend, Kim Sears, left in separate cars, which was said to cause some mutterings amongst the courtside journalists and camera operators. While that is purely speculation, something like romantic problems with a long-term partner could easily affect the mentality of even a world-class athlete, causing Murray to lose focus and, ultimately, his chance at another Wimbledon title.

But perhaps there is more to it than that, other factors that have been more widely reported, as the Telegraph’s article continued to explore.

Since Murray’s Wimbledon 2013 victory, the British number one has been recovering from back surgery and also ended his partnership with his coach, Ivan Lendl.

Ivan Lendl, a former world number one himself, had been coaching Murray since late 2011 and is largely credited for vastly improving his skills and helping him go on to win Wimbledon. So for their partnership to end March 2014, just after the major world grand slam tournaments had begun - a time when tennis players would need to focus on training – it would be a big blow to both Murray’s mentality, his training and, ultimately, his performances in the upcoming tournaments.

There were also reports speculating that something had happened just before the game, as Murray was heard to shout at his team box (which included his new trainer, mother and girlfriend) : “Five minutes before the f****** match!” [3]

Though, so far, no light has been shed on just who he was shouting at, if it had been his girlfriend – then that would add more credence to the speculation of relationship problems.

Add the long recovery to major surgery, it’s easy to see that Murray would not have been his best coming into the 2014 season, which could also be seen in his performances throughout the previous year – since winning Wimbledon Murray had failed to win another grand slam and had not won a single match against any of the top 10 world-ranking players he faced.

But, despite the signs being there, bookmakers still put Murray down as their favourites to win the match. Why? Because they weren’t looking at these human elements outside of the tournament that could easily affect a player and the outcome of a game.


In Part 3 we will be looking at how Digital Contact can help bookmakers spot these influences first and how it can help them gain a competitive edge.

<<< Click here to read part one: The value of spotting outside influences | Click here to read part three: How Digital Contact can help spot outside influences >>>

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Sources: 1 – Independent | 2 – Telegraph | 3 – SportingLife / The Guardian / Huffington Post / Daily Mail |

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