Murray’s Wimbledon fears after earliest exit
Andy Murray suffered his earliest Wimbledon exit against American John Isner – and doesn’t know if he will be back.
The Scot battled bravely on Centre Court but ultimately had no answer to a magnificent display from the 37-year-old, who smashed down 36 aces in a thrilling second round victory in four sets.
Murray managed just two break points in going down 4-6 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 to Isner, his first defeat in nine matches against the 20th seed leading to his earliest exit from Wimbledon.
As to his chances of returning to SW19, the 35-year-old said: “Physically, if I feel good, then we’ll try to keep playing. But it’s extremely difficult with the problems I’ve had with my body in the last few years to make long-term predictions about how I’m going to be even in a few weeks’ time, never mind in a year’s time.
“If physically I’m in a good place, yes I will continue to play. But it’s not easy to keep my body in optimal condition to compete at the highest level.”
The key moment for the Scot came in the fifth game of the fourth set, Murray missing a simple backhand volley at the net to gift his opponent a break point which he converted to seize an advantage he never relinquished.
Murray, whose preparations had been hampered by an abdominal injury in the run-up to the championships, can be proud of his performance despite failing to mount the dramatic fightback the Centre Court fans had been hoping for.
Like their hero, those same supporters will be wondering, though, just how many more appearances the two-time champion can muster at the All-England Club as he nurses his aching body.
“I feel disappointed right now. Obviously I wanted to do well here. I love playing at Wimbledon,” added Murray. “It’s a surface that I feel like I can still compete with the best guys on. It definitely, definitely hurts.
“I could have had a good run here. It’s very frustrating. I was ready to do well here but the margins are fine at the highest level.
“It’s one of those matches that, had I got through, who knows what would have happened.”
Isner paid tribute to the former world No. 1 after the match, saying: “He is a massive inspiration for us in the locker room and we are lucky to still have him around.
“I need to relish these moments, this was one of the biggest wins of my career. To play as well as I did against one of the greatest players ever is a huge accomplishment for me.
“It is no secret I am not a better player than Murray, I may have just been a little better than him today. It was an incredible honour to play him. I had an incredible serving day and I needed every bit of it to beat him.”
Murray’s second-round exit followed Emma Raducanu’s straight-sets loss to Caroline Garcia on the same court, the French star sweeping aside the 19-year-old 6-3 6-3.
The Briton has failed to win successive matches at a Grand Slam since triumphing at last year’s US Open in New York.
“For me, everything is learning,” said 10th seed Raducanu. “Caroline is a great player. I struggled to find a way through her. But it’s OK because coming into this I didn’t really have many expectations of myself.
“Since the French Open, the biggest thing has been my time on court has been extremely minimal. I really did not train very much. That’s due to different sorts of niggles and things that have been lingering around.
“That’s obviously something I’m going to be focusing on, getting my body ready and just playing tennis basically.”
On a brighter note for British tennis, men’s No. 1 Cameron Norrie defeated Jaume Munar 6-4 3-6 5-7 6-0 6-2 to set up a third-round clash with American Steve Johnson who was too good for Brit Ryan Peniston, winning in three sets 6-3 6-2 6-4.
Norrie has yet to progress further than the third round in any Grand Slam.