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Robson, Murray and Djokovic battle for Twitter supremacy

By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - Dramatic knockouts and a surge in popularity for British teenager Laura Robson have sent activity on Twitter to new levels at the 2013 Wimbledon tennis championships as more players take to the twittersphere to boost their profiles.

IBM's second annual analysis of the volume and sentiment of tweets related to Wimbledon found Robson, fellow Briton Andy Murray and Serbian Novak Djokovic were the most talked about players by day nine of the prestigious two-week tournament.

Chris Thomas of IBM's analytics said more than 3 million tweets related to Wimbledon have been posted so far, topping the total number last year, with more players using the seven-year-old microblogging site to help build their own brand.

"This is the chance for many players to make a breakthrough with the public and make their brand especially some of those less known who are still left in the championships," Thomas told Reuters.

The most discussed was 19-year-old Robson who was the subject of 179,000 tweets. She was knocked out on Monday after becoming the first British woman in 15 years to make the fourth round.

She was followed by Murray with 155,000 tweets and Djokovic with 152,000.

Thomas attributed the surge in activity at Wimbledon this year to an increase in the number of people using Twitter, which globally has over 550 million accounts, and the dramatic events at the tournament that ends on Sunday.

From the start on June 24 Wimbledon was buzzing on Twitter with Spain's Rafa Nadal suffering a shock first-round defeat by Belgian outsider Steve Darcis. Two days later tweeters were in a frenzy when defending champion Roger Federer lost.

Activity peaked again on Monday when Serena Williams, the overwhelming favorite to lift a sixth Wimbledon title, suffered a shock fourth-round defeat by Germany's Sabine Lisicki and British No. 1 Robson was knocked out.

While Robson may top the list of the most discussed players, she has a long way to go before competing with some of the players who are most active on Twitter. All of the players left in the tournament by Wednesday had Twitter accounts.

Williams has over 3 million followers on Twitter and Djokovic's following topped 2 million while he was at Wimbledon and interacted regularly with fans, answering their questions. His poodle, Pierre, who he brought with him to Wimbledon, has a Twitter account with 67 followers.

"When I come back from my work first thing I see when I open the door of the house is him. He greets me. That's a huge joy," Djokovic told a news conference on Wednesday.

Murray has about 1.6 million followers while his dog, a border terrier called Maggie May, has 18,000 followers.

Among the women in the semi-finals, new Wimbledon favorite Lisicki has the largest Twitter following of about 102,000 and has interacted regularly with her fans during the tournament.

"It's interesting because some top 10 players don't have a Twitter presence. It all comes down to character," Thomas said.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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