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Major pressure for men's final

July 08, 2012|Diane Pucin
  • Roger Federer has a large part of the tennis world behind him. Andy Murray has Britain rooting for its first homegrown champion since 1936.
Roger Federer has a large part of the tennis world behind him. Andy Murray… (Getty Images )

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND — A large part of the tennis world will be rooting for the grand champion, 30-year-old Roger Federer, to win one more title, to reclaim greatness even if it's just for a day. They'll back the player who is already considered the greatest ever -- if only because he has won more major singles titles, 16, than any man -- to have one more large and shining moment.

And then there's Britain.

In the country where Wimbledon is as major a sporting event as the Super Bowl in the United States, there has not been a men's homegrown champion since 1936 (Fred Perry) and not even a men's homegrown finalist since 1938 (Bunny Austin).

Until Sunday.

Andy Murray, a 25-year-old from Scotland whose game was praised by none other than 2012 women's singles champion Serena Williams, will step up and play his first Wimbledon final against the man who before Sunday had already played in seven.

As soon as Murray won his semifinal match Friday, European ticket brokers were offering Centre Court seats, a pair, for $46,000. So that offers a sense of the pressure Murray carries.

"I think this is what is so particular in this country, that there's so much attention on that one player," Federer said. "Let's be happy that he's such a great player that he lets that sort of hype last.

"He's only going to get better as time goes by. That's what he's been proving."

If Federer wins, he will have seven men's Wimbledon singles titles, the equal of Willie Renshaw and Pete Sampras. He will also regain the No. 1 ranking in the world, which would be his 286th week as the best and would also equal Sampras for the most.

Federer always speaks with admiration of Sampras, who finished his career with 14 major victories, which had been the most until Federer came along.

"It was an inspiration for sure to see somebody else, while I was coming up, dominating the game and breaking the all-time Grand Slam record," Federer said. "I'm sure that inspired me in some ways."

So much is Murray searching for the little something that would allow him to earn his first big title that he hired his sixth new coach since he became an ATP tour player.

Last January, Murray tabbed Ivan Lendl to be his mentor. Though Lendl never won Wimbledon he did win eight major titles.

"The one thing I've learned from being around him," Murray said, "is that you try to make sure you don't get too high, never get too down. Maybe in the past I was too up and down."

After Murray beat Jo- Wilfried Tsonga in the semifinals, though, Murray did let some emotion out. He was teary on Centre Court.

If he wins the title Sunday he might not be the only teary-eyed one in the country.

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diane.pucin@latimes.com

twitter.com/mepucin

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