LONDON (Reuters) - “Murray Mania II” was gripping Britain ahead of Andy Murray’s second shot at becoming the first British man to win Wimbledon since 1936 with major victories in rugby and cycling events on Saturday raising hopes for Sunday’s final.
Fred Perry was the last Briton to win the coveted men’s trophy 77 years ago, in a year when Edward VIII abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson, the Spitfire made its first flight and Adolf Hitler opened the 11th Olympics in Berlin.
Scotland’s Murray will battle the world’s top player, Serb Novak Djokovic, in his second Wimbledon final after losing last year’s to Roger Federer.
Demand for tickets to the men’s final has rocketed since 26-year-old Murray beat Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz in Friday’s semi-finals with ticket website viagogo saying tickets are now up for sale at a record 71,000 pounds ($106,000) for a pair.
Quirky antics by Murray fans were reported in local media with a butcher in Aberdeen, Scotland, creating a sausage laced with champagne and strawberries and a nail salon offering a Murray Manicure with nets and balls on nails.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said he hoped Murray would add the Wimbledon title to the British and Irish Lions’ win over Australia on Saturday in which they roared to a 41-16 victory in the third test in Sydney, ending 16 years of failure.
“A superb result for the British and Irish Lions,” Cameron wrote on Twitter. “Hoping Andy Murray can make it the perfect sporting weekend.”
Also on Saturday British cyclist Chris Froome demolished his rivals to claim the overall leader’s yellow jersey in the eighth stage of the Tour de France.
Cameron is expected to be among the spectators in the royal box on Centre Court on Sunday when up to 28,000 tennis fans flock to the grounds in south London for the match of the year.
The chairman of the All England Club, Philip Brook, issues invitations for the royal box, mixing up royals, diplomats, celebrities and former players, but one notable absence will be the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton, who is due to give birth to the future heir to the British throne any day.
Outside the court, tennis fans will gather in an area of the grounds known as “Henman Hill” or more recently “Murray Mound” where people with ground but not court tickets can watch the tennis live on a giant TV screen while tucking into picnics.
Diehard tennis fans were camping overnight - and some have camped for the entire tournament - to ensure they are at the front of the line to buy tickets to the ground and the chance to join a queue to buy any unused tickets put up for resale.
The undisputed queen of the queue, Sue Callaghan, 60, from Surrey, who has camped at every Wimbledon tournament for 40 years, said she would not dream of missing Murray.
“I love coming to Wimbledon every year and so hope that this is Murray’s year. He deserves it,” Callaghan told Reuters on a blistering hot summer’s day outside her union jack motif tent.
“I shed a tear last year when he lost. We are the real fans out here,” added Mark David Martin, 47, a carpenter from the Outer Hebrides, who has also camped out for two weeks.
As hopes ride high on Murray, 26-year-old Djokovic acknowledged that the crowd will not be his on Sunday as he seeks his second Wimbledon title after winning in 2011.
“(Murray‘s) a local hero. He has a big chance to win Wimbledon after a long time for this nation. People will be supporting him,” Djokovic told a news conference on Saturday.
“It’s not the first time that I’ve been in a similar situation when I played against local players. I know what I need to do.”
Editing by Ed Osmond