Scorching Super Saturday at Wimbledon. The blinds are down and it’s hot, hot, hot. Temperatures are set to hit 31C (88F).
By 3.30am there were 1,858 people in the queue. At 5am that had risen to 2,322. And by 8am a total of 5,931 tennis fans were waiting in the sun.
Those who enjoyed a lie-in and arrived after 9am had almost certainly had a wasted journey. A total of 7,500 tickets were on daily sale this morning. That’s made up of 1500 seats – 500 each on Centre, No 1 and No 2 courts – plus a further 6,000 ground tickets.
At 9.30am stewards reported the queue had hit a figure of 8,073 people, meaning 573 latecomers already faced disappointment when the gates opened an hour later – with thousands more flooding towards SW19 behind them.
Of course, you don’t need to worry about queueing if you’ve already got a ticket for one of the show courts. Those with seats for Centre Court this afternoon have hit a Middle Saturday jackpot.
First on at 1pm is Andre Agassi, who won his first men’s singles title here in 1992, versus French Open champion Rafael Nadal, the Spanish star who is attracting plenty of attention from the ladies off court.
In his day, Agassi, 36, was a bit of a hearthrob himself. Even now he causes certain female members of staff here to stop in their tracks when he walks by. Will his farewell to Wimbledon carry on into the second week? Or is today to be the big goodbye?
With that little diversion in Germany kicking off at 4pm, the scheduling committee has placed Maria Sharapova v Amy Frazier next in the timetable. Third and last on Centre Court is Andy Murray’s round three clash with Andy Roddick, the likeable American who has already apologised for describing the Scot as Irish in an interview.
If it all goes to plan and the timings work out, that will allow BBC TV viewers to watch the England v Portugal match and then a spot of Murray Mania. Just don’t mention extra time and penalties.
The lucky 500 camped out at the front of the overnight queue who obtained Centre Court tickets may not be worried about the football. But plenty of people are.
As predicted here yesterday, the blinds in the press centre were already pulled down this morning when I arrived with the milkman – and not just to shield journalists from the sun.
The All England Club don’t want crowds building up outside and peering in to see any TVs which might be switched to Motty and Lawrenson. I will, of course, be concentrating on the tennis. Honest.
For much larger images of these pics and a gallery of photos, go to Wylie’s Wimbledon 2006 Photos.