Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

The recurring cries of “Come on, Andy!” at center court meandered somewhere along the continuum from pushing to pleading as two-time champion Andy Murray’s shortest stay at Wimbledon came to a close.

Unable to overcome big John Isner’s big serves, the way he always has in the past, Murray lost in the second round to the 20th-seeded American 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (7/3 ), 6-4 at the All England Club, capping a disappointing afternoon and evening in the grass-court Grand Slam tournament’s main stadium for the locals.

Prior to Murray vs Isner, the host country’s other leading player, reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu, was eliminated by Caroline Garcia of France 6-3, 6-3.

Asked whether he plans to be back a year from now, the 35-year-old Murray replied: “It depends on how I am physically. If physically I feel good, we’ll try to keep playing.

Murray needed multiple surgeries on his hip and now has an artificial joint. He also recently dealt with an abdominal issue that hampered his preparations last week.

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In addition to becoming Britain’s first men’s singles title winner in 77 years at Wimbledon when he claimed the trophy in 2013 – and adding another in 2016 – Murray always had managed to make it to at least the third round in his 13 prior appearances. He lost that early twice, in his 2005 debut and in 2021.

“It’s no secret that I am most definitely not a better tennis player than Andy Murray. I might have been just a little bit better than him today,” said the 37-year-old Isner, who won the longest match in tennis history by a 70-68 score in the fifth set at Wimbledon in 2010 and reached the semi-finals there in 2018.

“It was an incredible honor to play him on this court, in front of this crowd.

Murray can still hit crisp, clean groundstrokes, and he accumulated merely 13 unforced errors to 39 winners against the 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) Isner.

And Murray can still return about as well as anyone, often getting serves topping 210 kph back over the net.

But he could not quite do that enough: Isner hit 36 ​​aces – moving him four away from Ivo Karlovic’s total of 13,728, a record since the ATP began tracking that stat in 1991 – and delivered another 60 unreturned serves across the match’s nearly three and a half hours.

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Murray, who entered the day 8-0 against Isner, only managed to obtain two break points. Both came after about a dozen minutes of play, right after Isner broke to go up 2-1 in the opening set.

Isner erased the first with a drop volley winner, part of a tremendous display of deft touch up at the net, where he won the point on 43 of 61 trips forward.

“This is why I still play,” Isner said. “This is why I work hard.”

When the second break chance for Murray arrived moments later, Isner got out of the game this way: 206 kph ace, 203 kph ace, 216 kph service winner.

Murray made things interesting by taking the third-set tiebreaker, celebrating by hopping around and shouting and pumping his right fist while the crowd rose and roared.

But Isner quickly broke to go up 3-2 in the fourth and that, essentially, was that.

How did Isner hold off any chance of a comeback by Murray?

“I served,” Isner said with a laugh. “That’s really all it came down to. I guess I did not give him many opportunities to spin his web and get me tangled up in it.

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