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It's Britain vs Federer

Fred Perry had it easier than Andy Murray. When Perry won Wimbledon in 1936, there was no long-running debate about what was wrong with British tennis or pent-up public doubts about his own capacity to close the deal.

sports Updated: Jul 08, 2012 02:15 IST

Fred Perry had it easier than Andy Murray. When Perry won Wimbledon in 1936, there was no long-running debate about what was wrong with British tennis or pent-up public doubts about his own capacity to close the deal.

Perry already had won Wimbledon the previous two years and had no one of Roger Federer's talents to cope with in the final.

The British have been searching and waiting ever since for Perry's successor, for the man who could win the grass-court tournament that is not just a sporting event but a cultural pillar in this island nation.

Murray, a 25-year-old Scotsman with a droll baritone voice and a terrific backhand, is now just one match away.

"The roof is going to blow off this thing if Murray wins on Sunday," said Mark Woodforde, the former Wimbledon doubles champion from Australia.

Final step
But Murray's final step certainly looks like the highest step. To join Perry, Murray will have to beat Federer, already a six-time Wimbledon champion, who needs to beat Murray to regain the No. 1 ranking.

"It's a great challenge, one where I'm probably not expected to win the match, but one that, you know, if I play well, I'm capable of winning," Murray said.

No British man has managed to advance even this far at Wimbledon since 1938 when Henry Austin, better known as Bunny, reached the singles final, and there were already scenes and sounds of patriotic delight on Friday as the Centre Court crowd roared on Murray and waved British and Scottish flags.

"What an opportunity," said Tim Henman, the former British player.

"We've talked about 74 years about waiting for a finalist and 76 years since a player won it, so it's a good opportunity to kill two birds with one stone."

Though Murray is unaccustomed to Wimbledon finals, he is thoroughly accustomed to being the focus of attention during the Wimbledon fortnight. As an 18-year old, he reached the third round in his first appearance in the men's tournament in 2006.

Since then, he has become a fixture in Wimbledon's second week, reaching the semifinals the last three years, losing to Andy Roddick in 2009 and to Rafael Nadal in 2010 and 2011.

He already has played and lost in three other Grand Slam singles finals: losing to Federer at the 2008 US Open and 2010 Australian Open and losing to Novak Djokovic at 2011 Australian Open.

More records
Federer, who boasts a global army of admirers, will be chasing a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon crown and a return to the top spot in the rankings.

Federer, who will reach another couple of landmarks if he beats Murray, equalling the seven men's singles titles of Pete Sampras as well as the 286 weeks the American spent at world No 1, produced a brilliant performance to beat 2011 champion Novak Djokovic and reach his eighth Wimbledon final.

After falling in the quarter-finals in the last two years, Federer said it was good to be back on the stage he is graced on the final Sunday for much of the past decade.

"All I hoped for was a good match from me, to give myself a chance to be in the finals and have a shot at the trophy again," he said.

"I missed being in the finals here the last couple years."