History will be written in Federer-Murray final

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WIMBLEDON, England -- The Brits know how to stage a coronation, and they'll do so today for either regal Roger Federer or one of their own, Andy Murray.

Queen Elizabeth II has another commitment, but the former Kate Middleton and the British prime minister will be on hand to see who reigns at Wimbledon.

Plenty of history will be written in the men's final at tennis' most tradition-rich tournament. Federer can add to his record 16 Grand Slam championships, and he would tie a record by winning Wimbledon for a seventh time.

He also would claim the ATP's top ranking for the first time since June 2010, and match Pete Sampras' record of 286 weeks at No. 1.

Murray, meanwhile, is merely trying to become the first British man to win a Grand Slam title since Fred Perry took Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships in 1936.

Britain's abuzz. Even without the queen, the Royal Box is certain to be packed, along with the rest of Centre Court. Tickets are going for more than 2,600 pounds ($4,000).

Thousands have bought 8-pound ($12.40) grounds passes to picnic near Wimbledon's practice courts on the grassy hill known as Murray Mount and watch the match on a huge video screen.

Loyalties will be divided. Brits love Federer, 30, the celebrated Swiss whose graceful game is so well suited to the All England Club. He has gone 2 1/2 years without a major title, and could become the first thirtysomething man to win Wimbledon since Arthur Ashe in 1975.

Allegiance for Murray is more a matter of geography, but it's complicated. He's a native of Scotland, where there's a campaign afoot to break away from Britain. Whenever Murray loses, the English tend to call him Scottish, not British.

But for the moment, when it comes to lawn tennis, the United Kingdom is united.

Brits invented the game and, in 1877, started Wimbledon. They've won the men's title 35 times, more than any other country, but not since before World War II.

Murray has been beaten in the semifinals each of the past three years, and has lost every set in his three Grand Slam finals, including against Federer at the 2008 U.S. Open and 2010 Australian Open.

Murray, 25, became the first British man to reach the final since 1938 after a victory Friday against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

"People have been talking for 10 years that finally he was going to be the one to do it," three-time Wimbledon champion John McEnroe said.

Murray's accustomed to carrying the weight of a skeptical country's hopes. Shouts from the stands of "Come on, Andy" are common at Wimbledon and are occasionally heard at matches where Murray's not playing.

There will also be pressure on Federer, who beat defending champion Novak Djokovic Friday to reach the final for the first time since 2009.

"It's a big match for me, and I hope I can keep my nerves," Federer said.

"I'm sure I can."

Like London bookmakers and most other observers, Sampras considers Federer the favorite, but he said he isn't counting Murray out.

"But if Andy serves well and gets aggressive and can get the crowd behind him and use a little bit of destiny, he can pull it off."

Today

• Wimbledon mens singles final: No. 3 Roger Federer vs. No. 4 Andy Murray, 9 a.m.

• TV: ESPN.

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