SW19 diary: Science shows Murray must be missing Nadal
Saturday 27 June 2009
One of Britain's foremost psychologists has told the SW19 Diary that he believes Andy Murray's chances of winning Wimbledon would be higher if Radal Nadal were still in the tournament. "My real worry for Andy is the expectational pressure on him to win Wimbledon for Britain," said Professor Cary Cooper of Lancaster University.
"There was a common perception, however misled, that only two hurdles stood in his way. They were Nadal and [Roger] Federer, and with one of them not there, people assume he's almost won already. As someone who wants to see Murray do well, I wish to goodness Nadal was playing because expectations would be more realistic.
"On a scale of one to 10 of pressure, what Murray is now facing is at the top end. You could tangibly measure the effects of pressure with physiological and psychological tests."
Professor Cooper does have one piece of good news. "Murray seems to be a coper, much more so than Tim Henman in my view."
Cooper added that the ongoing "Brit or Scot?" debate about Murray's identity is rooted "in the most basic social psychology." He said: "It's human nature that people want to be associated with winning. The better he performs, the more that Britain as a whole will embrace him, and the more Scotland will claim him.
"Since the 1980s Britain has become more Americanised in our judgment of success," he added. "We've become more success-driven, ergo the celebrity culture."
They're all 'at it' in Radio Wimbledon's love games
The Diary cannot reveal the identities of the amorous couples who have been "at it" in the box room at the back of Radio Wimbledon's on-site studio – because we don't know them. But in response to our quest for salacious gossip, a RW insider laughed that "we all know what the room is for", and then added to the intrigue by explaining the studio also has an interesting broom cupboard. We assume that the word "it" in the phrase "at it" is a reference to broadcasting. What else could it be?
The rich, the famous – and the lavishly named
There were some big names in the press box yesterday. One of them, to use her full title, was The Right Honourable, The Baroness (Brenda) Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, trade unionist from Salford. And there was Senor Bruno Gomez-Acebo Borbon, nephew of the King of Spain, and Bruno's wife, Senorita Barbara Cano de la Plaza. And alongside the big names were some famous ones, including Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Terry Wogan, and rich names, notably Danny Fiszman, who owns 16.1 per cent of Arsenal.
Serena's press conferences can be a mind-bending experience
Serena Williams' press conferences can be goldmines for a diarist who appreciates a surreal moment. (Like the time we came home from the pub to find rock chick PJ Harvey in our bed and had to sleep under the kitchen table. Or the time we hitched a lift in Kisii, Kenya with a priest on his way to conduct a funeral in rural South Nyanza. The deceased, who'd fallen into a campfire, was in an open casket. For reasons unclear, the diarist was asked to attend. And deliver the homily).
Serena delivered again yesterday. The following is a verbatim exchange.
Journalist: "Can you moonwalk?"
Serena: "No, not at all."
Most of her press conference was Jacko related, as you can read elsewhere in these pages. Before we know it, we'll have uber-self-publicist Uri Geller on the premises. He's already got "form" in tennis. He announced that he'd use his "powers" to help Tim Henman beat Goran Ivanisevic in 2001. Henman lost. In 2003, he urged the nation to touch their screens to "will" Henman to victory over Sébastien Grosjean. Henman lost, obviously. As a seer, he's somewhat lacking.
What other conclusion is there about a man who spent much of yesterday telling umpteen media platforms: "I never saw this coming."
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