More than 10 million TV viewers won over by Murray

He may be defiantly Scottish in the face of English attempts to co-opt him as a national hero. And he may sometimes not exude the kind of gentlemanly Henmanesque on-court charisma the Wimbledon faithful long for. Nor indeed, has he actually won a major tournament yet.

But yesterday Andy Murray, for so long written off as the petulant bête noire of British tennis, was basking in the warm glow of affection from a country badly in need of sporting titans this summer.

A perfect storm of a balmy evening, thrilling strokes and a plucky British fightback combined to persuade 10.5 million viewers to watch the 21-year-old's stunning five-set victory over Richard Gasquet on Monday night.

Until now, Murray has struggled to get the kind of viewing figures that Henman regularly achieved during his Wimbledon campaigns. While 13.5 million watched Henman's fourth round match against Michel Kratochvil in 2002, only two million people watched Murray's clash with Julien Benneteau four years later.

But, on Monday, the BBC ditched the opening episode of its new welfare fraud series On the Fiddle? to clear its main channel for the nailbiting climax – leaving schedules running 35 minutes late. Not that anyone was complaining, except ITV, which saw Coronation Street badly beaten in the ratings.

And with rain threatening to delay the start of proceedings at Wimbledon today and a fine evening forecast, few will be surprised if Murray's quarter final clash against world number two Rafael Nadal results in Celebrity MasterChef being similarly disposed of and "Murray Mania" reigning again on primetime BBC1. John Lloyd, the former Davis Cup star, said Murray's victory marked a decisive shift in the player's relationship with the fans, even comparing him to another Wimbledon favourite, Jimmy Connors. "Everyone loves fighters and, when they saw that raw emotion and passion, never thinking he was going to lose even when he was about to lose, they love that and I think he's won over just about everybody."

Conditions permitting, the former Dunblane schoolboy might comfortably expect to overturn the TV ratings record set at the height of Henmania.

The signs are that tennis fans are finally taking the young Scot to their hearts. By yesterday afternoon, 400 fans were already in the queue in the Wimbledon car park hoping to be courtside for Murray's biggest ever challenge. That number was expected to rise steadily overnight with thousands braving the elements to camp out.

Henman Hill, the grassy knoll behind Centre Court which – for nearly a decade – rang out to cries of "come on Tim", has been rechristened Murray Mound. Saltaires, if not exactly outnumbering Union flags, are now ever-present as well as blue and white painted faces.

Bookmakers believe Murray vs Nadal looks set to smash the tennis betting record set in Henman's halcyon days. A William Hill spokesman said: "'Even in Tim Henman's prime, he was never involved in a match that produced a betting turnover in excess of £5m but we are confident this game will do so and it could even go as high as £10m at stake on the match."

Despite the patriotic fervour, Nadal enters the match as heavy favourite.

For Wimbledon, Murray's exploits have added to an already successful tournament where the sun has shone and bumper audiences have turned up. And, so far, it is Murray who remains the star attraction, with organisers happy to accede to BBC requests to give the man viewer-friendly billing.

News
i100
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
The Prostate Cancer Foundation is returning all donations made by Redditors 'in honour' of Jennifer Lawrence and her naked photos
news

Website users raised funds after Jennifer Lawrence nude photo leak

News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
advertising
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York