Wimbledon 2013: Anticipation builds on Murray Mound as Andy prepares to take on Fernando Verdasco
The last remaining Brit is playing for a place in the semi-finals
Paul Bignell is an Assistant News Editor at The Independent. He has previously been the acting News Editor of the i Paper, a home news reporter for The Independent for one year and a reporter for the Independent on Sunday for six years.
Wednesday 03 July 2013
Despite the dark clouds hanging over Wimbledon this morning, space was already at a premium on ‘Murray Mound’, as the crowds were out in force to cheer-on Britain’s last remaining hopeful in his bid to secure a place in the semi-finals.
Just a few metres away, Andy Murray looked relaxed as The Independent watched on as the British number 1 began practicing on the warm-up courts with former British player Greg Rusedski. Rusedski later came off the court, drenched in sweat remarking 'glad I retired…' as Murray's 100mph+ serves continued to land unnervingly close to where I was standing.
Murray's opponent, in today's fourth-round tie, Spain's Fernando Verdasco, was also warming-up just a few courts away.
After he had finished, the Scotsman left the court alone via a back entrance to avoid the hordes of cameras and reporters the anticipation was building in the rest of the grounds, and a small patch of blue sky began to break through the clouds.
Back on Murray Mound which was now almost full, Diana Davis from north London and friend Joyce Boorman from Woodbridge in Suffolk, were confident about Murray, but not so much about the weather holding out. "My forecast said 40 per cent chance of rain," said Ms Davis who had tickets to Court One and so would not see Murray's match on Centre Court.
"But we're here because you've got to be patriotic haven't you," said Ms Boorman. "We've got to be behind him [Murray]."
Diane Drake, 69, and Mandy Pye, 59, both from Basingstoke, arrived in SW19 on Sunday afternoon to join the queue for tickets for today's match.
"We heard it was really busy this year so we thought we would get here early," Mrs Drake said. "The atmosphere has been fantastic and we are very much looking forward to seeing some good tennis."
Douglas Low, 31, a company director from Preston, joined the line at 10.30am on Sunday.
"We really wanted to get Centre Court tickets and also hoped to see Murray - we have grown to like him over the years and now people are really getting behind him," he said. "We realised there was a good chance he would get through to the quarter-finals. It has certainly been worth queueing."
Murray's famous fans were also out in force, with an all-star cast in the royal box, including former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson who was in New York last September to congratulate Murray on his maiden grand slam at the US Open. England football manager Roy Hodgson, comedian Michael McIntyre and former Australian tennis-great, Rod Laver were also due in the royal box.
And of course, Murray's mother Judy, who has previously declared herself an admirer of his opponent, will be there to watch.
She once wrote of her delight after finding herself standing behind Verdasco, while waiting for accreditation ahead of a tournament in Monte Carlo: "Not the worst queue I've ever been in," she joked.
One well-wisher whose sentiments were not as warmly received however, were those of the Prime Minister David Cameron who earlier Tweeted in support of Andy Murray.
Ignoring the tongue-in-cheek 'Curse of Cameron' jibes, on this heavily superstitious occasion, the PM, who has gained a reputation for jinxing British sports stars, wrote: "The sky over Downing St a little grey right now. Let's hope it clears up for @Andy-Murray to win at Wimbledon. Best of luck Andy."
The trend began when he was in opposition and hit a peak last summer when he saw Murray lose in the Wimbledon final and showed up at Olympic events at which UK medal hopes lost.
Britain's top female player, 19-year-old Laura Robson, was knocked out of the fourth round of Wimbledon Monday after Cameron tweeted from Kazakhstan, saying "best wishes to @laurarobson5. 1st Brit woman in 4th round Wimbledon for ages".
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