By Douglas Walker
TENNIS ace Andy Murray has finally won over his English doubters following his thrilling five set win on Monday night.
Bookmakers say Murray has always attracted strong backing from Scotland but they are now seeing unprecedented support from South of the Border.
Viewing figures for his epic victory over Frenchman Richard Gasquet peaked at 10.5m with a record number expected to tune in for his clash with Spanish sensation Rafael Nadal today (Wednesday).
Bookies William Hill say his quarterfinal will also attract the largest-ever betting turnover for an individual tennis match.
Crowd-pleasing Murray, 21, wowed the Wimbledon faithful with his amazing comeback against Gasquet after being two sets and a break down.
Rupert Adams, from William Hill, says the thrilling clash has united Britain in support of Murray.
He said: “Prior to his win against Gasquet on Monday, the two biggest punts on Murray came from Scotland.
“However as things swung in his favour during the match, we saw numerous bets placed from English punters.
“Like Tim Henman, it has taken an epic match to change the perception of the entire country.
“As well as Scotland the whole of Britain now love him too. He has gone from zero to hero and English fans have been placing four-figure sums on him lifting the trophy.
“A home winner of Wimbledon has always scared us the most. If Murray was to do it we would be looking at potential losses of £10m.”
Within 12 hours of the Scot’s win over Gasquet, Hills took a whopping £130,000 in bets on his match with Nadal, this despite the fact none of their shops were even open.
Mr Adams continued: “As soon as the match finished punters went straight online or picked up their phones to bet on Murray’s clash with Nadal. It’s certainly captured the public’s imagination.
“The match is shaping up to be the biggest ever from a tennis betting perspective, we expect to take in £10m which is the amount usually staked on the FA Cup final.
“With none of the home nations qualifying for Euro2008, punters have been desperate to place patriotic bets and Murray has allowed people to do that.”
BBC viewing figures peaked at 10.5m, a 44.7 per cent share, for Murray’s win over Gasquet and this figure is sure to be eclipsed for his primetime encounter with Nadal.
The is also likely to surpass Tim Henman’s highest viewing figures of 13.1m against Michel Kratochvil in 2002 and cement the Scot as the new darling of SW19.
The previous highest number of viewers to watch a Murray match was 9.3m in 2005 when he was defeated in the third round by David Nalbandian during his Wimbledon debut.
Philip Bernie, Head of BBC TV Sport Editorial said: “We are delighted that an audience of over 10 million on BBC1 enjoyed the thrilling climax of Andy Murray’s extraordinary match with Richard Gasquet, and hope for more gripping viewing in Andy’s match with Rafa Nadal tomorrow.”