marathon men

Isner v Mahut II: who are you rooting for?

Can a social media monitoring tool give a flavour of which of the marathon men tennis fans will be supporting in Isner v Mahut part II?

My favourite story about last-year’s epic 11-hour, three-day tennis match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut concerns some of the spectators.

Played on Wimbledon’s humble outside court 18, the 700 seats for the contest between two unseeded players were, on day one, not hot tickets.

 

But by the final day of the contest, a famous ex-tennis player was so keen to see the conclusion that he allegedly pulled the “Do you know who I am?” trick to nab a seat originally claimed by a long-queuing member of the public.

News that Isner and Mahut have drawn each other again provoked a ripple of astonishment which spread far beyond the locker rooms. How could this match possibly live up to the 2010 one, which Isner clinched 70-68 in a deciding set four hours longer than the previous-longest tennis match in history?

I used the Brandwatch social media monitoring tool to measure reaction to news of the re-match and to try and gain some Hawkeye-sharp insights into who might have more support.

From June 13 to June 16th the graph showing the number of mentions of the two players was as flat and level as the top of a tennis net, averaging about 100 mentions per day.

Then on Friday, June 17th, Wimbledon’s draw commitee, amid Masonic levels of secrecy, mysteriously paired the two together. This resulted in mentions of Isner suddenly bouncing as high as one of his kick serves – to 2,773. Mahut, as he always does, ran Isner close – garnering 2,700 mentions.

The sentiment relating to mentions of Isner were 12 per cent positive and five per cent negative (83 per cent were neutral).

Mahut’s sentiment was also five per cent negative but he just edged Isner as 13 per cent of his mentions were positive. It’s always nice to support an underdog – especially one who served 62 times to stay in the match before losing!

The mild nature of the negative statements posted about Mahut reveal the affection that tennis fans feel for both players. Ellen Sinclair tweeted: “Hope Isner wins as I have the biggest tennis crush ever on John Isner”. Ellen was keen to stress: “I have nothing against Mahut but really want Isner to be around Wimbledon for as long as possible”

Greg Rusesdski’s assessment was a little more professional, the Canadian tweeted: “Just heard I might be doing Mahut v Isner. Say it isn’t so. That means I will only need to do one match from Tuesday.”

Overall, the reaction on Twitter was as quick as a blocked Agassi service return (Twitter produced about 86 per cent of the total response across social networking sites and news outlets).

Cooney 83 reflected many people’s opinions by saying: “Court 18 again, please put Layani as chair umpire too, but plan a couple of bathroom breaks this time.” Perhaps they could have the same spectators too?

Allballsallowed on wordpress.com worked out the odds of them being drawn together: “I can confirm it is 142.5/1.”

Exicanha Dancer, a top contributor on Yahoo Answers, posed a thought that many of us tennis cynics hadn’t dared say out loud: “I think Wimbledon is trying to fix the draws. They were probably going to put Serena vs Venus in the 3rd round (seeded 8 and 24) but Kim Clijsters had to withdraw.”

On June 18th, mentions of the two players plummeted like a cunning drop shot to 799 but it is sure to be a different story on Tuesday, when the two friends and rivals step on court again.

So based on the social media monitoring, who will have the most support?

Overall, Mahut was mentioned 4,954 times, whereas Isner was mentioned 5,006 times.

But if you factor in the fact that Mahut has a name which is more difficult to spell and that Isner is higher-seeded and (apparently) scores more highly on the eye-candy scoreboard, the Frenchman could claim a pyrrhic victory.

But Mahut is unlikely to pay much heed to statistics. He actually won 34 more points during the course of that historic match and still lost!

Author: James Christie

Content writer at No Pork Pies – Social Media Agency

FEDERER SHOWING HE’S CLOSER TO END OF CAREER: THE FRIDAY FIVE

By Maud Watson

Shaky Start – One man who can be glad that Grand Slams are best-of-five is current reigning champ Roger Federer. Federer was expected to cruise through his opening round having defeated Alejandro Falla twice in the last month, but the Colombian had other ideas. Playing a spectacular match for four sets, he nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets in history. All credit to the Federer who dug deep and found a way to win, but he was right when he said he was lucky to have won that match. He didn’t look solid in his second-round match either. But nearing his 29th birthday, he is closer to the end of his career than the beginning. All reigns eventually come to a close and Federer’s career is definitely closer to the end than to the beginning. But he is still Roger Federer. He’s still a 16-time Grand Slam champion. He may no longer dominate as he once did, but only a fool would write him off now. He still has the hunger, desire, and heart, and as long as he has that, he still has a few more Grand Slam titles in him.

Marathon Men – The first week is coming to an end, and already it has been a Wimbledon to remember.  One of the biggest stories in sports this week (aside from World Cup drama), was the marathon match between Frenchman Nicolas Mahut and American John Isner. An 11-hour contest that shattered a multitude of records, it will undoubtedly be the match of the tournament. And as cliché as it sounds, in this case, I’ve never felt it more true that it was a shame someone had to lose. Both men are to be commended for the heart they showed, particularly Mahut who successfully stepped up to serve to stay in the match over 60 consecutive times before finally cracking to lose the match 68-70. Some will view this match as a case for instituting a fifth set tiebreak or making the first week of a major best-of-three, but I’m inclined to disagree. There weren’t necessarily a ton of rallies, but it was high drama. It got everyone talking about tennis. And at the end of the day, when you see how this unfolded, it would have been a shame to see all of that wiped out by a single tiebreak, something that more often than not gives the edge to the bigger server and could be decided by one errant backhand.

Downward Spiral – In case anyone missed it, James Blake and commentator Pam Shriver had a bit of a tiff during his first-round loss to Robin Haase. Blake could overhear Shriver’s courtside commentary, and he made it known to Shriver that he didn’t care for what she had to say. I sympathize with Blake to a point. It is a distraction if you can hear the courtside commentary and the fact that he was losing couldn’t have helped matters any. I also understand he’s dealing with what may ultimately be a career-ending knee problem, and he’s a former top player who has seen his ranking slip to outside of the top 100. Not much is going right for Blake at the moment. But I don’t think there’s any denying that he overreacted to Shriver (and had he been winning at the time that he overheard her, I doubt he would have even acknowledged hearing her commentary). It’s also not the first time he’s overreacted in a match. Earlier in the year, he went ballistic on a chair umpire, accusing the chair umpire of possibly costing him $25,000 due to his poor officiating, which he felt was attributing to his losing the match. Blake has always had the reputation for being one of the classier competitors on the ATP World Tour. If the game is no longer fun and Blake can’t keep his emotions in check, then he is right to seriously consider hanging it up. It would be a shame to see him tarnish his reputation at this stage in the game.

Tough Transition – Paris elation didn’t carry over to London for either Francesca Schiavone or Sam Stosur. While Schiavone has enjoyed some good results at Wimbledon, her early exit wasn’t a shocker, but that of Sam Stosur was. With a huge serve and a great all-around game, the Aussie’s strokes should have translated well to the lawns of the All England Club, but it was not to be. Hopefully this is just a minor blip and not a hangover from the loss in the French Open final. Sam has had such a great first half of the year, and it would be a travesty to see her lose her footing and confidence now.

Royal Audience – The grounds were abuzz with the fact that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II attended Wimbledon Thursday, the first time she had attended since watching Virginia Wade win the title in 1977. The tournament organizers did their part, scheduling Andy Murray as the first match on Centre Court. Much credit should go to Murray, who has been struggling with his form ever since reaching the finals of the Australian Open. He played one of his best matches in recent memory, and hopefully this is a sign of good things to come.