Wimbledon set for a scorching start

Wimbledon 2005 was getting under way today with a host of British players set to see first-round action on what should be another scorching day in the sun.

Wimbledon 2005 was getting under way today with a host of British players set to see first-round action on what should be another scorching day in the sun.

The possibility of thundery showers should have receded by noon, when play will begin in the 119th All England Lawn Tennis Championships in temperatures of up to 28C (82F).

British number one Tim Henman will not begin his yearly bid for glory until tomorrow, but Greg Rusedski’s campaign will kick off today on court two against Spain’s Alberto Martin.

And two British teenagers are also set to come under the spotlight as they attempt David and Goliath-type challenges.

Hull-born 19-year-old Katie O’Brien will take on 15th seed Kim Clijsters after Rusedski’s match, while Welsh teenager Rebecca Llewellyn faces an equally unenviable clash on court 18 against US Open champion and world number five Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Jamie Delgado is rewarded for coming through the qualifying competition with a court one battle against former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Brendan Jones, of the PA WeatherCentre, said tennis fans flocking to SW19 were set to enjoy another fine day after a sweltering weekend.

“The humid air that we had around yesterday will still be lingering in the South East in the morning, so there is a slight risk, maybe a 10 to 15% chance, of a thundery shower, but that should be over by the time play starts,” he said.

“Apart from that it should be another warm and fairly sticky day with hazy sunshine, though hopefully it will be less humid and oppressive than yesterday.”

Henman’s opening match against Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen tomorrow also looks set to be unplagued by rain, and Wednesday is likely to remain tennis-friendly too.

“It’s looking surprisingly good for tomorrow and Wednesday, and maybe Thursday as well,” Mr Jones said.

“At the moment it’s looking dry with sunny spells and temperatures are looking good as well, at around 26C or 27C.”

Hardcore fans arrived at the All England Club over the weekend to ensure they are first in line for plum tickets when the gates open, with their tents lining the roads outside the grounds overnight.

Entrepreneurial residents near the courts set up small marquees in their gardens ready to sell souvenirs, drinks and snacks to the public who will flock to south west London over the next fortnight.

Security has been tightened again for this year’s championships, with picnic hampers, hard-sided cool-boxes and brief cases all banned from the grounds.

Extra bag searchers will be employed at all the main gates during peak hours to ease congestion.

Meanwhile, organisers continued to warn fans not to purchase tickets from touts or on websites like eBay, stressing that they would find themselves barred from entry if they did.

Yesterday it emerged that passes for exclusive areas reserved for players and their entourages which were probably fakes had been been sold on the auction site for £3,000, and hundreds of genuine tickets are also on offer.

But the All England Club said only debenture tickets were transferable.

Other Brits playing today are Scotland’s Alan Mackin, who takes on Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez, and British number one Elena Baltacha, who will play German qualifier Sabine Klaschka late on in the day.

Alex Bogdanovic, Anne Keothavong, Sarah Borwell, Josh Goodall and David Sherwood are also in first-round action on the opening day.

Scottish teenage star Andrew Murray is set play tomorrow against Swiss George Bastl.

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