A Big Day For A Scot
LONDON - It was the one step Tim Henman could never make. For Andy Murray, it must look less like a hurdle and more like a skyscraper.
No British male has made it to the Wimbledon's men's final since Bunny Austin in 1938, the year he lost to Don Budge. No Brit has won Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.
Leftie Roger Taylor had a few charges in the 1970s, and then there was Henman. Four times - 1998, ''99, '01 and '02 - he took Great Britain on a wild emotional roller-coaster ride, made it to the semifinals but couldn't break through. Twice he lost to Pete Sampras. Once, against Goran Ivanisevic in '01, Henman was within two points of victory, but lost in a five-setter.
To say the entire hopes of a nation are riding on Murray today in his semifinal clash with American flamethrower Andy Roddick - Roger Federer is on court in the first semi with Tommy Haas now - is not an exaggeration. The newspapers are all over Murray, his fitness regimen, his girlfriend Kim Sears, the long lineups of fans dying to see him play and every other angle imaginable.
Once, he made the mistake of saying he would root for anyone but England in soccer, something a lot of Scots would say, but not a politically correct thought for one hoping to unite the sporting aspirations of the United Kingdom.
That's all been conveniently forgotten now. Murray survived a nailbiter against Switzerland's Stanilaus Wawrinka on Monday in the first full Wimbledon match played indoors and is favoured today against Roddick even though Roddick has twice made the Wimbledon final, losing both times to Federer.
If Murray can do what Henman could never do, it's because he's a better all-around player and because he's become addicted to an extraordinary fitness schedule that has him ingesting 6,000 calories a day just so he can work out for six hours or more. He takes ice baths, uses yoga and has the entire resources of the Lawn Tennis Association behind him.
The day is overcast at the All-England Club with a threat of rain, which means the roof on Centre Court could be closed. Murray said he found those conditions humid when he played under the lid on Monday. The match should commence somewhere around 11 a.m. Toronto time.
Today, of course, isn't the end of the line by any means. Murray is 22, already No. 3 in the world and he'll have more chances.
But this is a chance to end one British drought, then take dead aim at another.