Momentum Studies: Murray v Harrison Australian Open 2012

January 17, 2012

Ryan Harrison

Andy Murray was expected to beat Ryan Harrison in the first round of the Australian tennis Open in January 2012. After Harrison won the first set Murray won the second and commentators began to talk of momentum swing.

Andy Murray v Ryan Harrison Australian Open Jan 2012. Round 1

Sets 1-2

Murray faces promising but somewhat erratic young American. Expected to win. Early start for watchers in UK . Awoke 5.30 am to learn Murray had lost first set. By time I’d settled to watch, Murray was moving ahead in second set. He seemed a bit tentative but won with fewer errors. One set all. First mention of momentum swing by the commentators.

Set 3

Murray breaks early. Still appears a bit tentative. ‘Retains advantage but still unconvincing. [The playing] level from both has dropped.’ Harrison seems a bit more prone to error,

Idea: Momentum more likely to sustain if stronger player/team seizes it.

First racquet-chucking by Harrison.

Idea: Murray’s ‘momentum’ not helped by low 1st service %. Although 4-2 up, talk is not of Momentum. Maybe negative momentum (Let’s call it ‘NegMo’) for Harrison. Murray has chances but fails to capitalize on them for second break of serve. Murray wins set. Commentators assess performance as steady. Imply no momentum (or not sustained). My assessment: Murray playing well enough to win match.

Set 4

Murray drops four points (from three game points at 40-0 to break point at Advantage against in second game of set) before squaring at one set all. Conserving energy?

Second racquet chuck from Harrison. Conditions continue to change (Shadows). Harrison drops service. Murray now leads 1-2 with serve to come. But seems a bit listless. Poor body language. Commentator picks up possible shoulder trouble for Murray. Set continues, with Murray playing with little urgency (apparently). Breaks again for 5-2. Wins in over three hours.

Momentum check:

The notes above suggest that the remark about momentum was not much more than a commentator’s knee-jerk assessment when the stronger player recovers after dropping the first set.

A Similar note was struck on sky text: “Murray seized initiative in second set [and] maintained momentum when he broke Harrison again in the opening game of the third set”.

To be continued…

Subscribers are invited to join in on this examination of momentum. It’s a phenomenon frequently mentioned in sporting and political contests.