Tennis: Fans camp out to queue for Wimbledon tickets
THOUSANDS of tennis fans queued up this morning to watch the first day of play at Wimbledon.
Some camped out while others headed to SW19 at the crack of dawn to get tickets for the opening day of the 126th grand slam championships.
Britons will be hoping for a homegrown champion, especially after last night's disappointment in Euro 2012.
The tournament is also a precursor to SW19's Olympics appearance - the games' tennis tournament will be held at the club just three weeks after Wimbledon finishes.
Thousands of people queued today, travelling from across the UK and as far afield as New Zealand and the United States.
Some camped out - Sue Callaghan arrived yesterday morning with a group of friends who come every year to watch the tennis.
The 59-year-old, from Bourton-on-the-Hill in Surrey, said: "We got here at about 10.30am yesterday morning, we managed to get our tents up before the rain.
"I've been coming for 39 years, I come every year. We all met here and now we come each year.
"We keep in touch, send Christmas cards, then all arrange to meet up here."
Another member of the group, 46-year-old Mark Martin, travelled from the Isle of Lewis in Scotland to spend two weeks watching the tennis.
"I used to just do the odd day when I lived closer, but now I think I'll just camp.
"We're just a bit concerned about the mudbath this has turned into."
They were joined by Pam Goodwin, 62, from Portsmouth, and journalism student Adam Fenton, 20, from Stoke-on-Trent.
Asked who they are rooting for, Mr Fenton said their hopes are pinned on British hope Andy Murray.
"We're hoping he'll do well, I think he'll get at least to the semis, but he hasn't been playing at his best recently."
Mark Purdie, 50, his wife Debbie, and their 17-year-old son Scott arranged their holiday to coincide with Wimbledon.
"We've been here since about 6.15am," said Mr Purdie.
"We got here on Friday night, and we're in London until Thursday, then we'll go to Europe for a short time.
"We'll be back for the final but we'll be watching it on the TV."
His wife said: "We love the tennis. It's the second time we've done this - we came two years ago and got Centre Court tickets so we had about three days of tennis."
They predicted Murray will get through to the semi-finals of the tournament, but said they were just looking forward to watching the tennis.
Jim Kozal, 63, and his wife, from Nebraska in the United States, have come to visit their son, who is studying in England, and decided to take in some tennis during their stay.
"The four majors are on our bucket list," Mr Kozal said. "We've been to the US Open, but that was the easy one - this is another one to tick off the list.
"This is my first time at Wimbledon - it's a great experience.
"We're not rooting for anyone in particular, we just love watching them all, it makes no difference who wins.
"It's just the atmosphere, it's so great, you just want to be a part of it."
Fans will have to wait until tomorrow to see homeside hope Andy Murray take to the court to try again to become the first British male singles champion in 76 years.
But after his French Open quarter-final exit and early crash out of Queen's, hopes have been dampened even more by a nightmare draw.
The 25-year-old faces Nikolay Davydenko, former world number three and ATP World Tour champion, in his first-round match tomorrow.
Today sees world number one Novak Djokovic begin his title defence, opening proceedings on Centre Court against Spanish veteran Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Also in first round action is six times champion Roger Federer, who takes on Spain's Albert Ramos on Court One.
And all eyes will be on David Nalbandian - disqualified from the Queen's final - as he meets eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic on Court One.
While Murray is not in action today, several British players are, led by Heather Watson, who takes on Iveta Benesova in a match likely to be played on a show court in the evening.
Former Australian Johanna Konta, who was cleared to compete for Britain last month, faces 28th seed Christina McHale in the last match on Court 17 while Naomi Broady meets Lourdes Dominguez Lino.
In the men's competition, 18-year-old Oli Golding, the US Open junior champion, will take on Russia's Igor Andreev on Court Two and Josh Goodall faces Grega Zemlja on Court Three.
Prize money has been boosted this year - Men's and Ladies' Singles Champions will each receive £1,150,000 - £50,000 more than 2011 - while first-round losers walk away with £14,500.
And according to forecasters it won't be a Wimbledon washout, with the weather set to be warm with sunny spells this week, though occasional showers will threaten to interrupt play.
Bookmakers have already laid odds on rain causing problems - William Hill is giving odds of 3/1 that there will be play on usual rest day Sunday because of rain.
It has also put Andy Murray at 10/1 to lift the men's title, a campaign he will start tomorrow.