By Paul Newman at Wimbledon
You could tell the start of the 125th Championships was only three days away here yesterday. There was a regular stream of competitors along the walkways between the locker rooms and the practice courts, pasta was in high demand in the players' restaurant and, by the middle of the afternoon, steady rain was falling.
It was also raining in the tranquil gardens of Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire, where Andy Murray was playing his final warm-up match at The Boodles exhibition event. The world No 4 was leading Serbia's Viktor Troicki 4-1 when play was called off.
Nothing, however, will dampen Murray's spirits as the Scot looks ahead to his home Grand Slam tournament, even if yesterday's draw meant that he may have to beat both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the only men who have won the title here since 2002, if he is to become the first Briton to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. "I am going into Wimbledon with the feeling I am going to win – you can't go in with any other attitude," he said.
"Obviously, I would have liked to have played more. Another set and a half would have been great, but I was lucky to get the matches in at Queen's, so today was just about getting some decent points in. I've played well in the last few matches, I've played well at Queen's and now I've just got to get myself in the right frame of mind. You've got to focus on that, not get too far ahead of yourself and not put too much pressure on yourself."
The draw did little to contradict the view that this Wimbledon will boil down to a showdown between the four men who have come to dominate the sport in recent times. At the recent French Open, Nadal, Federer, Murray and Novak Djokovic became the first top four seeds to contest a Grand Slam tournament's semi-finals for five years when they met in the last four. It would be no surprise if they faced each other again here in 13 days' time.
Federer's first-round drama last year against Alejandro Falla, who won the opening two sets, tells you never to take anything for granted, but provided the big guns are not spiked in the early stages it is hard to see them misfiring before the latter stages. "It's not worth thinking about Rafa and the semi-finals," the 24-year-old Murray said. "You need to be switched on from the first match and I will be."
Draw serves up epic repeat, page 19