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Page last updated at 09:37 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 10:37 UK

Wimbledon opens for Championships

WIMBLEDON
Date: 22 June - 5 July
Coverage: BBC One, BBC Two, BBC HD, Red Button, website streaming (UK only) and text commentary, 5 Live, 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC iPlayer
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Andy Murray and Roger Federer
Federer, right, has tipped Murray to be a future champion at Wimbledon

The 123rd Wimbledon Championships get underway in London on Monday with Roger Federer the first star name on court.

He opens on the new-look Centre Court at 1300 BST in the first competitive match to be played under its new retractable roof.

And with fine weather expected, about 480,000 people are set to attend the All-England club over the fortnight.

Britain's Andy Murray is fancied to do well after defending champion Rafael Nadal's withdrawal because of injury.

Prize money at this year's tournament has increased to more than £12.5m with both the men's and women's singles champions set to collect £850,000.

And for the first time, floodlights have also been installed on Centre Court, meaning that play could stretch into the evenings until as late as 2200 BST.

Spectators are expected to consume 25,000 kilos of strawberries along with 7,000 litres of cream during the championships - with the price for a punnet frozen at £2.25 for 10.

While Murray has to wait until Tuesday to face American Robert Kendrick in the first round, Federer, who starts his campaign against Yen-Hsun Lu, is bidding for a sixth Wimbledon title.

He has admitted he is wary of the threat posed by British number one Murray as he prepares to kick off his Wimbledon challenge: "He definitely has a good chance at Wimbledon.

"He handles pressure well and will be a great grass champion for the future," he told BBC Sport.

He has the double-handed backhand, very unusual, he's a great double-hander, he moves very well for how tall he is

Federer on Murray

Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Maria Sharapova as well as a host of British players are also in action on the opening day.

And the Scot is one of the few players with a winning record against Federer, leading their head-to-head clashes 6-2, including victory in their last four meetings.

That, along with his Queens victory last week, has prompted many to install the 22-year-old as one of the favourites to take the title, despite the fact he has never made it past the quarter-finals at SW19.

And Federer added: "He has the double-handed backhand, very unusual, he's a great double-hander, he moves very well for how tall he is.

"I know Queen's is not Wimbledon but I think he takes these things pretty relaxed."

However, the Swiss has warned against reading too much into his losing record against Murray.

"When it came down to the crunch we've played two times in finals - he played very well but I was able to beat him. Prior to finals he's beaten me," said the 27-year-old.

"I don't want to make excuses but he played me at a time when I had back problems (which) made it hard for me to call on my best performance level. He played me the right way and was very successful.

"He's a great tactician, I like to watch him play - he's a very tough challenge."

Murray lost to Nadal at the quarter-final stage last year - and the Scot revealed that defeat inspired him to improve his fitness.

"I realised that I was in good shape then, but I lost to someone like Rafa, who's probably one of the best athletes to ever play tennis," said Murray. "I needed to improve that side of my game.

"It was after Wimbledon I pushed on. I just learnt a lot from the loss to Rafa. I realised I needed to get fitter and stronger. I went away and worked on it."

Federer will be followed on to Centre Court by women's second seed Serena Williams, who plays Nueza Silva, before men's fourth seed Djokovic meets Julien Benneteau.

Meanwhile, the man who Federer beat in the final of the French Open at the start of this month, Robin Soderling, opens his campaign second up on Court One against Gilles Muller.

Sharapova's first-round match against Viktoriya Kutuzova is the first encounter on Court One, while Briton James Ward faces a mammoth task against men's seventh seed Fernando Verdasco of Spain after the Soderling-Muller contest.

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Ward is not the only home interest on Monday, though, with Josh Goodall facing Frenchman Michael Llodra, and women Melanie South and Georgie Stoop turning out against France's Mathilde Johnasson and Russian Vera Zvonareva respectively.

And another girl sure to generate a lot of home support is reigning girls junior champion Laura Robson, who kick-starts her first Grand Slam tournament against Daniela Hantuchova in the first match on the brand new new 4,000-seat Court Two at 1200 BST.

The 15-year-old has been handed a wild card into the main draw and faces a tough task against Hantuchova, the world number 33.

Russian fourth seed Elena Dementieva and Belarusian eighth seed Victoria Azarenko are other high profile women playing on Monday, while American James Blake, seeded 17th, 24th seed Tommy Haas of Germany and ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France start their campaigns in the men's draw.



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see also
Wimbledon day one as it happened
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Scots quartet set for Wimbledon
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Order of play
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Federer laments Nadal's absence
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Champion Nadal out of Wimbledon
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Murray to open against Kendrick
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Henman on Murray
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Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
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Baghdatis pulls out of Wimbledon
19 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Nadal and Murray practise together
18 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Nadal v Federer - The best final?
07 Jul 08 |  Tennis


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