The day I melted on Murray Mound

There's no roof to protect ticketless fans from the sun at Wimbledon. Cahal Milmo joins the sweltering faithful

"No mercy Andy, make it quick", shouted the puce-faced man to my left, before emptying a £3 bottle of official Wimbledon mineral water over his head. They were common sentiments on Murray Mound as Britain's great tennis hope strode on to Centre Court at 2.16pm in 41C of merciless heat.

About 5,000 people crowded on to sport's most famous hillock yesterday, anticipating an epic battle of brains and brawn similar to that played out between Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka on Monday night, in the clammy crucible created by the debut of Centre Court's £80m retractable roof.

In the end, the 22-year-old Scot contributed considerably less sweat to his triumph than I did.

After securing one of the prized spaces in front of the giant television screen, it became clear that the same etiquette which applies to watching tennis on a court (no one moves until a break in play) also applies among the mound's Murray Maniacs.

Alison Murphy, 43, an estate agent from Brighton and a mound resident for the last three tournaments, set out the rules: "Cheer lots. Wave your hands when they show us on telly. But don't even think about moving until the end of the first set."

As Murray trotted through the first set in his quarter-final against former world No 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, aka the Mosquito, I sat trapped in my three square feet of burning viewing terrace, not knowing whether to cheer another forehand winner or open a bidding war for my neighbour's second bottle of ice-cold dousing water. As the mercury nudged 30C (and hit 41C on court), a £20 offer was rebuffed. "Add a zero and we can talk," came the response.

The mysterious disappearance of 28 members of Wimbledon staff with supposed flu-like symptoms seemed suddenly explicable – heat wave aversion.

Mercifully, the man from Dunblane duly obliged the entreaties to be quick and averted a human hog roast on his eponymous hill. After one hour and 41 minutes of increasingly swashbuckling tennis, Murray hit an unplayable serve at 4.57pm and in so doing played his way into his first Wimbledon semi-final, beating Ferrero in straight sets 7-5, 6-3, 6-2. The Mosquito, so-called for his sinuous speed, had been swatted.

On the mound, the woman behind me opened a molten Penguin and calmly drank its contents in celebration. St John's Ambulance said it had treated 117 spectators for heat-related ailments. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the highest figure so far this Wimbledon.

Inside Centre Court, the onward march of Murray had attracted the traditional range of celebrity tennis fans.

Kate Winslet and her husband, Sam Mendes, watched largely impassively from the royal box. Miss Scotland 2009 cheered vigorously at almost every opportunity. The fact that the newly crowned Katharine Brown, 22, was a classmate of the star at primary school in Dunblane and his mother once coached her at tennis may have had something to do with her enthusiasm.

The man himself, however, maintained his trademark levelheadedness in the face of the gathering tidalwave of expectation from the hoi polloi on the hill and the glitterati that Britain is just two matches away from its first men's Wimbledon champion in 73 years. Two tickets for Sunday's final were last night being offered on eBay for £6,950.

As well as receiving messages of support from the Queen and Sean Connery, Murray said he had received a note from Cliff Richard yesterday. And after neatly sidestepping a question about whether he would support England or Australia in the Ashes, Murray declared himself unbothered by the weight of expectation upon him. "It doesn't make any difference [to] the way you perform, the hype. If you ignore it, you don't realise it's happening," he said after the match.

On the mound, there was perhaps a sense that the Anglo-Saxon enthusiasm for the once prickly Scot was yet to burst into a full-scale love affair.

Amid the waving Union Flags, there was only one banner with a full-blooded declaration of passion. It read: "Sue Barker will you marry me." Then again, perhaps, like me, the true fanatics were too busy sprinting to the shade and a water tap to care.

Suggested Topics
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing