Wimbledon 2012: Andy Murray mania begins in time for first match
MURRAY mania was already under way today, as fans queued to get their chance to see the British number one play his first Wimbledon match this year.
Andy Murray, 25, takes on former world number three Nikolay Davydenko on centre court as he begins his bid to become the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.
The Scot will be hoping to prove the doubters wrong after putting in disappointing performances at the recent French Open and Queen's tournaments.
But he has already secured the backing of six-time champion Roger Federer, who predicted he will reach the semi-finals for the fourth successive year.
And fans today said they will be staunchly supporting him, regardless of doubts over his form.
Mark Martin was first in the queue for tickets, after arriving at SW19 from his home on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, on Friday.
The 46-year-old delivery driver said: "I think he'll definitely get through today. Davydenko's form isn't good on grass.
"Murray's got a tough draw, no doubt about it, but all we can do is hope, can't we?"
Sisters Suzanne Pyefinch and Michele Jennings, from Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, arrived on Friday in the rain. They queued up today to make sure they could get tickets.
Mrs Pyefinch, 40, said: "I don't think today's going to be as big a problem as everyone makes out. It will be a good game."
She said she did not think Murray's physical fitness was the issue, adding: "It's more about his head, we know that."
She said too many people "jumped on the bandwagon" of negative comments about Murray: "Sometimes you have to work a bit harder for the positive comments.
"It's too easy to jump on the bandwagon and say he isn't going to win."
Student Megan Evans, 27, queued up early with mother Jo, who travelled from Manchester to south-west London to get tickets.
"There's no certainties with him (Murray), but there are hopes, so that will do. This is how we support him," said Mrs Evans.
And she hit out at the anti-Murray lobby, adding: "If you support somebody else then support them but we don't slag them off so don't do it to him."
Murray, who was at the south-west London club's practice courts with brother Jamie yesterday, said he plans to spend as "little time as necessary" at the courts during the Grand Slam.
Writing in his blog, he said he would "come in, get my tennis done, have physio, a massage and then leave".
Fellow Briton Laura Robson will be hoping to replicate the heroics of her compatriot Heather Watson in her match against 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone this morning.
Last night, Watson praised the "amazing" crowd as she celebrated her first Wimbledon win, defeating Czech world number 52 Iveta Benesova 6-2 6-1 on Centre Court.
The 20-year-old, junior champion at SW19 in 2009, won the hearts of the nation last summer when she put up a determined fight against current world number one Maria Sharapova.
Also taking to the courts are Jamie Baker, 25, who will play Andy Roddick on Court 1, and British number two James Ward, also 25, takes on Spaniard Pablo Andujar on Court 14.
In the women's tournament, British number one Anne Keothavong, 28, takes on Laura Pous-Tio of Spain, and Elena Baltacha, also 28, will be hoping to beat Italian Karin Knapp on Court 18.
Yesterday, Josh Goodall slipped out of the tournament, losing 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 to Grega Zemlja of Slovenia, and 18-year-old Oli Golding crashed out 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (9-7) 7-5 to Russian Igor Andreev in his first senior appearance at Wimbledon.
Spain's Rafael Nadal will be aiming to secure a place in the second round when he meets Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil on Centre Court, and American Serena Williams will be hoping to have more success than sister Venus - who bowed out yesterday - when she takes on Barbora Zahlavova Strycova from the Czech Republic.
Serbian world number one Novak Djokovic got his title defence off to a strong start, beating Spanish veteran Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3 6-3 6-1, and, in the women's competition, Sharapova sailed into the second round with a 6-2 6-3 win over Anastasia Rodionova.
Third seed Roger Federer, going for his seventh Wimbledon title, also cruised through the first round against Spain's Albert Ramos, racing to a 6-1 6-1 6-1 victory.
Argentine David Nalbandian kept his temper, despite losing 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 to Serbian Janko Tipsarevic.
Spectators enjoyed sunshine and dry weather yesterday, but forecasters have warned there could be some fine drizzle today, though it is unlikely to deter British fans expected to flock to "Murray Mound" to watch their home hope start his campaign.