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A nation prepares...

Fans on Centre Court.
by Stuart Fraser
Saturday 6 July 2013

From John O’Groats to Lands End, the nation will watch and expect as Andy Murray bids to make history by becoming the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win the gentlemen’s singles at Wimbledon when he takes on Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final.

It will be one of the great British sporting occasions. Already, fans are queuing up for a coveted place on Henman Hill, or Murray Mound as some like to call it, to watch the match on the big screen.

Despite there being no tickets available for Centre Court on Sunday, the first tents in the queue were pitched on Friday evening before Murray’s semi-final had even finished with fans desperate to be in the grounds of the All England Club to soak up the atmosphere on what will be a special day.

Sue Callaghan, from Surrey, has been coming to Wimbledon for 40 years and after another night in her Unon Jack tent, she will be first through the gates when they open on Sunday morning.

“You have got the atmosphere up there, everybody’s cheering and the cameras come across,” she said. “You just have to make it as if you are on Centre Court. You still shout ‘Come on Andy’ and all that.”

By 3pm on Saturday, there were approaching 100 tents in the queue. Tom Blake, who lives in Geneva, is visiting friends in London but has decided that the opportunity to be at Wimbledon when Murray potentially makes British sporting history cannot be missed.

“I have seen it on television quite a few times and the atmosphere looks amazing, especially now having Murray through again,” he said. “It’s a nice piece of history and it’s a nice place to sit and watch it. Hopefully Murray will win and it will be a good day.”

Millions will watch the final on television at home and in bars across the country. Murray’s semi-final against Jerzy Janowicz was the most-watched television moment of the year in the United Kingdom. A five-minute peak audience of 13.2 million viewers watched Murray defeat the Pole in four sets, beating the final of Britain’s Got Talent, which had a peak of 13.1 million, but the final will undoubtedly attract even more viewers.

To get a sense of what the atmosphere across Scotland will be like, you need only look at the stirring scenes at his homecoming parade last September when he was greeted by thousands as he walked through his hometown of Dunblane just one week after winning the US Open.

Murray's achievements are something to be proud of for the small Scottish town from which he heralds.

“It’s an extraordinary story, the Dunblane story,” said Hugh MacDonald, Chief Sports Writer of The Herald. “Dunblane has witnessed an awful obscene tragedy. Andy Murray was part of that day. I wouldn’t be as crass to say his homecoming to Dunblane was any kind of healing for that day, of course it’s not, but it was certainly a recognition that suddenly there was something in Dunblane to celebrate and something to be proud of.

“This was not just a one day sporting communal celebration, it was much deeper than that. This was a hero coming home and coming to a home where he understands and where he experienced both the good and the awful in life.”

There have been a number of significant Scottish sporting achievements: Celtic winning football’s European Cup in 1967 which came just weeks after Scotland’s 3-2 victory over World Cup holders England, Allan Wells winning the 100m at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, boxer Ken Buchanan beating Ismael Laguna to become world champion in 1970 and cyclist Sir Chris Hoy’s six Olympic gold medals.

But Murray winning Wimbledon would trump them all.

“These are all sports where we’ve had a culture of doing well,” said MacDonald. “There have been other athletes, other boxers, other cyclists. Murray is literally a phenomenon. We don’t have tennis players that are this sublimely good.

“If Murray was to win the Wimbledon final, I would place it at No.1 for the simple reason that it’s never really been done in the modern era and I can’t see it happening again beyond Murray.”

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