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Murray and Federer carry weight of expectation into Wimbledon final

By Paul Gittings, CNN
July 8, 2012 -- Updated 1512 GMT (2312 HKT)
Expectation weighs on Andy Murray at Wimbledon every year, with the British crowd eager to see one of the nation's male tennis players win the singles title for the first time since 1936. Expectation weighs on Andy Murray at Wimbledon every year, with the British crowd eager to see one of the nation's male tennis players win the singles title for the first time since 1936.
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Britain expects
Henman's heir
Strong support
Peerless Perry
The 'Curse of the Bambino'
Schumacher delivers
Waiting for Webb Ellis
Triumph of the noisy neighbors
Golden ambitions
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Andy Murray bidding to become first British man to win grand slam since 1936
  • Roger Federer can claim record equaling seventh Wimbledon title
  • Murray has 8-7 career edge over the Swiss star
  • Federer won their last grand slam final clash in Australia in 2010

(CNN) -- Andy Murray and Roger Federer are both carrying the weight of expectation and history into Sunday's men's singles final at Wimbledon.

Murray snapped a 74-year streak when he became the first British man to reach the final at the All England Club and will want to end a 76-year long wait for the tennis success starved nation by actually winning a men's grand slam title.

The legendary Fred Perry claimed both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open titles in 1936, but since then nothing, despite the brave efforts of Andy Murray's predecessor as British number one, Tiger Henman.

Virginia Wade was the last British winner of a grand slam at Wimbledon in 1977, the year of the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

Maybe that will be an omen because 2012 marks the Diamond Jubilee of the British monarch, who made a rare visit to SW19 to see Wade win all those years ago.

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Wishful thinking

But that sort of historic wishful thinking is unlikely to make much impression on Federer and even Murray admits he needs to play the "perfect match" to beat the Swiss maestro.

"He's one of the greatest ever players. He's been doing it consistently over a number of years. He's very, very tough to beat here," Murray told gathered reporters after his four-set semifinal win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.

"It's a great challenge, one where I'm probably not expected to win, but one that, if I play well, I'm capable of winning. The pressure that I would be feeling if it was against somebody else I guess it would be different.

"But there will be less on me on Sunday because of who he is."

Murray's clever attempt to deflect pressure and focus it on Federer underestimates the expectations of a sports mad country, who have filled just about every seat for every day of every event at the 2012 London Olympics later this month.

Britain is likely to come to a standstill Sunday afternoon as television sets are tuned into the live broadcast and in his home town of Dunblane in Scotland special celebrations are planned.

Formidable opponent

Murray is right though. Federer is a formidable opponent and can set a string of records if he beats the number four seed and home hope.

It will be a record equaling seventh Wimbledon title in the Open Era, drawing level with Pete Sampras, who coincidentally had the same coach, Paul Annacone, as Federer.

It's a great challenge, one where I'm probably not expected to win, but one that, if I play well, I'm capable of winning.
Andy Murray

He will extend his own record to 17 grand slam titles and victory will also take him back to the top of the world rankings, also beating another Sampras record for successive weeks at the top of the men's game.

For a 30-year-old, considered to be a waning force, it would be a remarkable performance, made possible by his four-set dismissal of the previously dominant Novak Djokovic to reach a record eighth Wimbledon final.

"There's a lot on the line for me. I'm not denying that. I have a lot of pressure, as well. I'm looking forward to that. That's what I work hard for," he said.

"I've worked extremely hard since I lost that match point against Novak last year at the U.S. Open.

"My run has been extremely good. Now I have a chance at world No. 1, and at the title again all at once.

"So it's a big match for me."

Missed chance

Federer missed that chance against Djokovic in the semifinal of the U.S. Open last year, losing a five-set thriller and it looked as if it might be his last with the likes of Rafael Nadal, who made a surprising early exit at Wimbledon, and Murray making it even more difficult to land a grand slam.

There's a lot on the line for me. I'm not denying that. I have a lot of pressure, as well. I'm looking forward to tha
Roger Federer

He would be the first man since Andre Agassi at the Australian Open in 2003 to win one of the top four tournaments in tennis past the age of 30 and only Australian legend Rod Laver and American Arthur Ashe have achieved that feat at Wimbledon.

Murray also holds an 8-7 career record over Federer, but the last time the pair met in a grand slam final, at the Australian Open in 2010, he was given a tennis lesson by the man from Basel.

But with inspiration and valuable advice from a new coach, eight-time grand slam winner Ivan Lendl, the 25-year Murray may just be ready to bring some much needed cheer to a country in the grip of austerity and in the middle of one of its wettest summers on record.

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