Henman gets behind Murray

2012-07-07 10:08

London - Tim Henman has urged Andy Murray to seize his opportunity to make more history after the world number four ended 74 years of hurt to became the first British man in the Wimbledon final since Bunny Austin.

After a succession of agonising semi-final losses for Murray, Henman, Roger Taylor and Mike Sangster, a British man will walk onto Centre Court on the final Sunday of the tournament with the famous gold trophy up for grabs.

But Henman, who lost in Wimbledon semi-finals four times, believes Murray, a 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 winner over French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Friday's semi-final, will only be truly satisfied if he beats Roger Federer to win the first Grand Slam title of his career.

Murray will be aiming to become Britain's first male champion at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936 and Henman said: "What an opportunity. He's got one monkey off the nation's back with the first finalist in 74 years so it's a good opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

"It's another big big task for Murray. He's obviously lost to Roger in a Grand Slam final before but it's another great win and he's been so resilient.

"He's got to do that for one more occasion and keep believing he can go the whole way. The start is going to be crucial."

Murray's triumph has finally erased decades of British failure at Wimbledon.

Sangster was the first Briton since Austin to make the last four in 1961, but Chuck McKinley ended his hopes with a straight sets victory.

Taylor, a dashing left-hander born in Sheffield in the north of England, was next to show signs of breaking the drought when he reached the semi-finals in 1967.

That attempt ended in defeat against Wilhelm Bungert, but he was back in contention in 1970 after causing a major stir when he snapped Australian legend Rod Laver's 31-match winning streak in the fourth round.

The promise of great things petered out with another last four loss, this time to Ken Rosewall, and in 1973 he again fell at the semi-final stage, losing to Jan Kodes after beating a young Bjorn Borg earlier in the tournament.

That was Taylor's last shot at glory and it took 25 years before Henman picked up the baton.

The mild-mannered Henman was the perfect symbol of the English middle-classes who make up the majority of the Wimbledon crowd and they offered such a fevered response to his efforts that the term "Henmania" was born.

Even now, the raised grass bank that overlooks Court One and Centre Court is widely known as Henman Hill thanks to the legions of fans who sat there watching his matches on a big screen.

Sadly for Henman, he was brushed aside by legendary American Pete Sampras in his first two semi-finals in 1998 and 1999.

His best chance came in 2001 when he led Croatia's Goran Ivanisevic by two sets to one, only for rain to force the match into a third day, by which time the spell had been broken.

Ivanisevic battled back to win in five sets and Henman's misery was complete when he was thrashed by Lleyton Hewitt in the 2002 semi-finals.

The arrival on the scene of Murray a few years later offered fresh hope however.

Even his first taste of the Wimbledon curse, a four-set defeat against Andy Roddick in the 2009 semi-finals, couldn't discourage him.

He returned to the last four in 2010 and 2011, losing against Rafael Nadal on both occasions, before finally ending the long wait for a finalist on Friday.