HE famously gave a 15-minute pep talk to Wimbledon champion Andy Murray before he became the first British man in 77 years to win the men's singles title.

Yesterday former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson bodyswerved the Germany v Nigeria World Cup match to lend support to his protege in his defence of the title.

He was in the Royal Box to see the Dunblane-born star beat tall South African Kevin Anderson Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-3 7-6 (8-6) to reach the quarter-finals for the seventh time.

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The match finished on Centre Court under the roof after rain interrupted play.

Murray said after his meeting with Sir Alex last year: "Spending 15 minutes with him, he's a really impressive guy and you can learn a lot from him."

Sir Alex once gate-crashed a press conference Murray was holding at the US Open to ­introduce him to his friend, Sir Sean Connery.

Also watching was English FA chairman Greg Dyke, Sir Richard Branson, singer Elaine Page, Irish golfer Paul McGinley and ex-cabinet secretary Gus O'Donnell. Sir Cliff Richard wore a garish blue suit. Royalty was represented by Prince Michael of Kent.

But Murray's fans were forced to queue for more than 26 hours to get a ticket for today's big match.

Just 500 Centre Court seats were available for fans in the famous SW19 queue, and those turning up after the early hours of yesterday were left disappointed.

A message on the official Wimbledon website at 8am yesterday read: "There are more people in the queue than Centre and No 1 Court tickets for Monday."

Bookmaker Coral's David Stevens said: "As reigning champion, Andy Murray came into this tournament with an even bigger following than 12 months ago.

"That has been reflected in the number of bets we've taken on him, which in turn has forced his odds down to the shortest they have ever been at the start of the second week at SW19."

Wimbledon steward David Spearing, who reminded Murray to give his mother a hug after last year's win, said yesterday his intervention avoided "a great British faux pas".

Murray had navigated his way up to the players' box to celebrate with his coaching team after his win over Novak Djokovic.

Laughter rippled around the crowd when Murray embraced his closest supporters - including girlfriend Kim Sears - but forgot to hug his mother Judy.

Mr Spearing said: "Obviously he didn't know where he was and he started climbing off the box and I suddenly realised that he hadn't greeted his mother at all.

"So I shouted out. I said: 'Andy!' and he looked up. I said: 'Your mother!'.

"He replied 'Oh!' So he climbed back up and he went down and embraced her."