Murraymania Brings Britain to a Full Stop
While the dress code at the All England Club is strictly all white, perhaps an exception could be made for top seed Novak Djokovic this coming Sunday.
He may as well be in all black.
Being as how he'll be facing Scotsman Andy Murray for the men's singles championship, Djokovic will be cast as a villain in a nation aching for a local hero to become the first pommie to triumph at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.
Already accustomed to the pressure of being the host country's standard bearer, Murray yielded the opening set to 6ft 8in Jerzy Janowicz of Poland before storming back to take the match, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.
Janowicz did his best to put mind games into play, but Murray wasn't having it. Centre Court crowds tend to be as fashionably late for the start of a match as Los Angeles Dodgers fans at Chavez Ravine, so the Scot called for his supporters to attend early and in full voice. They did and they were. It may not have prevented his slow start, but they added to the atmosphere of his strong finish.
As it should be, Murray's final challenge will be his toughest. Chalk held firm in the other bracket, too, as Serbia's Novak Djokovic displayed why he's the top seed by slugging through a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (6-8), 6-3 marathon over Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro that was just 17 minutes shy of five hours to complete. Power was on display from both sides of the court, as forehand after forehand left the crowd amazed at the combatants' dynamic accuracy.
The eighth-seeded del Potro won over many fans in his attempt at the upset, and it remains to be seen how much of a toll he took on Djokovic.
Meanwhile, Murraymania has hit the British shores like a gale-force wind. (£43,000 for two tickets to the men's final? Really? It seems not everyone is plagued by the UK's 'down' economy!) The British press is having a field day with the hysteria, and the locals can't get enough of the excitement and all its trappings.
Djokovic won Wimbledon two years ago and is well-steeled in grand slam finals. Murray claimed his first slam event at the US Open last year, which -- amidst the unbridled joy of finally breaking through -- has surely bolstered his confidence in the big spotlight. That he prevailed over Djokovic that day enhances the experience. In all, the two have met eleven times -- Djokovic is 2-1 against Murray in grand slam finals -- so there are no secrets between them.
That doesn't mean an extra edge isn't being sought. From Murray's side, no less than fellow Scot and football legend Sir Alex Ferguson has weighed in with a word or two about channeling intensity on momentous occasions.
Riveting stuff. As a Wimbledon final should be. And this one has all the trappings of history in the making.
At least, that's what the locals hope.