Andy Murray became the second of the British grand slam winners to crash out of this year’s Wimbledon in the second round on Wednesday on Centre Court as he was simply blown away by the huge-serving veteran John Isner 6-4, 7-6, 6-7, 6-4.
It soon became a double disappointment for the home crowd following the exit of US Open Emma Raducanu earlier on as they saw two-time Wimbledon winner Murray, 35, unable to get to grips with the bombs that Isner – who totalled 36 aces against arguably the game’s best returner – was sending down.
And it was left to British No1 Cameron Norrie and Londoner Harriet Dart to salvage some pride on the day. Norrie battled back bravely to win in five sets against Jaume Munar, while Dart’s delayed first-round match saw her win comfortably in straight sets.
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But the hurt was only too clear for Murray, who had won all eight of his previous meetings with the 6ft 10ins Isner, with this their first encounter on grass. The roof came over and the lights on with Isner leading 4-2 in the fourth set – but even that break could not halt his momentum.
Murray said: “I’m pretty disappointed. The first two sets I didn't serve well, that certainly didn't help me. He was serving extremely well, as you would expect.Then in the fourth set I lost a game on my serve I probably shouldn't have from up 30-0. But he served extremely well and didn't give me lots of chances. When I did get them, I didn't get many looks at second serves on important moments.
“But tonight doesn’t change my view I can do well at slams. It is frustrating, because I was in a really good place physically before Stuttgart and then the ab strain meant I couldn’t serve for 10 days. I've played many times against those players with huge serves and found ways to get enough balls back, whether that's been against Karlovic, Isner, Raonic. But he served very close to the lines today.
“It's extremely difficult with the problems I've had with my body in the last few years to make long-term predictions, but if physically I'm in a good place then yeah, I will continue to play. Before the US Open I really want to try and improve my ranking to a level where I'm getting seeded in slams.”
American veteran Isner, 37, said: “I am certainly not a better tennis player than Andy Murray, though I might have been a bit better today. Andy is a massive inspiration to all of us in the locker room, and this is one of the biggest wins of my career on this court. I had an incredible serving day, and I needed every bit of it to win today.”
British No1 Norrie left it late to pull out his very best to get him out of a deep hole – beating Jaume Munar 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0. And he now faces Ryan Peniston’s conqueror Steve Johnson.
Norrie, 26, said: “It was a battle. I think it took me a while to settle into the match, I played the best tennis at the end. It was a match I didn't start very well, and I wasn't really comfortable. I wasn't really hitting the ball well, and wasn't moving well. For me to turn it around and finish the way I did was great, and it was nice to find that level.
“Jaume made it extremely difficult for me. I wanted long points, but I wasn’t hitting the ball where I wanted to, as accurate as I wanted to. Then I made it really physical in the fourth and the fifth sets. I think he was struggling a little bit with an injury or maybe cramps because he was the better player for three sets.
“I have wanted to make the second week for the first time at a slam. It helps with the seeding I have. This is the biggest tournament of the year for me, being at home, in front of all the fans and I want to keep going. To win it, I'm going to have to do things a lot better though.”
In her delayed first-round match Dart, 25, beat Rebeka Masarova 6-1, 6-4 on Court 12 – and next faces the No8 seed Jessica Pegula.
Dart said: “I am just really pleased to get through my first round. It's never easy, the first round of a slam and there are always nerves. What pleased me most was just to be able to close it out. I definitely felt a bit nervous prior to the match and I was just really pleased with how I handled it.”
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