Day of destiny in Dunblane the home of Andy Murray Mania
THEY have been here before and now they are here again. Like the expectant nation, Dunblane was last night readying itself for the latest chapter in the colourful saga of its most famous son.
Andy Murray, who is the first British man to reach the final of the tournament for 74 years, will carry the hopes of the nation today as he does battle with Swiss master Roger Federer.
Yesterday, many of his home town’s shops had been decked out with window displays urging their man to victory in his first appearance in the Wimbledon final.
Resident Gordon Mann said: “Dunblane is proud of Murray. Many people here know him, and everybody wants him to win.”
Murray’s grandmother, Shirley Erskine, who was just two years old when Fred Perry became the last Briton to hold up the Wimbledon singles trophy, said she and husband Roy would be attending the match. The 78-year-old said: “We are so proud of Andy. To get to the final at Wimbledon means so much to him, and he’s worked so hard. He was really quite emotional at the end of his semi-final.
“We are thrilled to bits for him. We were down in London all last week but we came home.
“But we’re going back for the final – we wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Tickets for the historic match were last night changing hands for up to £15,000 as tennis fans attempted to secure a coveted seat on Centre Court.
As messages of support for the 25-year-old flooded in from politicians, including Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond, Murray attempted to distance himself from the hype and expectation by taking part in a training session with his coach, Ivan Lendl.
Murray became the first British man to book a place in the final since Henry “Bunny” Austin 74 years ago with his victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday.
Federer, who is aiming to equal Pete Sampras’s Wimbledon record of seven wins, said he was looking forward to playing the “local hero”.
Speaking after his emotional win on Friday, Murray said today’s final would be “one of the biggest matches of my life”. “It’s a great challenge, one where I’m probably not expected to win the match, but one that, you know, if I play well, I’m capable of winning,” he said. He also appealed to the crowd for their help, saying: “They’ve helped me out through some tough moments the last couple of matches, and I’ll definitely need it again on Sunday.”
The one corner of Scotland typically revelling in Murray’s success is the town near Stirling where he first started playing at the age of three.
Murray’s other grandmother, Ellen Murray, also 78, said she and husband Gordon suffered from nerves as Frenchman Tsonga rallied to take the third set – but she still backed her grandson to beat Federer in the final.
She said: “It was so tense, I couldn’t sit still and was up and down from my seat. I had to watch the highlights later to see the bits I missed. But I’m so proud of Andy.
“As soon as the game was over our son Willie, Andy’s dad, phoned us. He said he was over the moon.
“Of course, the way Federer is playing at the moment, the final will be very difficult, but Andy has worked so hard and he deserves to win. Andy always has our support and we wish him all the best. We’ll say a wee prayer for him.”
Among those cheering him on today will be the Duchess of Cambridge, who will take her seat in the Royal Box alongside Cameron and Salmond. There was speculation the Queen would attend – she presented 1977 women’s champion Virginia Wade with her trophy – and attended the grand slam in 2010. But a Buckingham Palace spokesman said the Queen could not do so as she had long-standing private arrangements this weekend.
Cameron said: “I’ll be watching the final on Sunday and, like the rest of the country, will be getting right behind Andy Murray – I wish him the best of luck.”
Salmond added: “This is an absolutely unique moment for any Scot – getting to the final is a magnificent achievement in itself, and the whole of Scotland will be cheering Andy on to go one better.
“He has carried himself extremely well and played brilliantly right throughout the tournament and it is clear he remains calm and focused on this vital match. I’ll be there in person to help cheer him on.”
With more poor weather forecast for today, the Murray match is an incentive to stay indoors, with many fans either staying at home to watch the match unfold or visiting pubs. A large crowd is expected at Dunblane Hotel, while a big screen will show the match in Edinburgh’s Festival Square.
At the championship itself, some supporters had camped since Friday for Murray Mound tickets.
Wimbledon will show the final on big screens on 4,000-capacity Murray Mound and 4,000-seat Court No 2.
Nurse Rosie Erwin, 22, from Edinburgh, said: “We said ‘lets go’ the moment Murray won the semi, and we’re enjoying the atmosphere. Murray’s the underdog but I believe he can do it.”
The children of Britain’s tennis greats are backing Murray to take the title. Fred Perry’s son said his father would have been so proud of the Scot, while John Austin, son of Henry “Bunny” Austin – the last British man to make it to the final – said his father would have been delighted.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West