No player ever bounds into a press conference full of the joys of spring after a loss.
But as Andy Murray faced the world’s media after losing to Sam Querrey in the quarter-finals, he was putting as good a face on matters as he could.
He came to Wimbledon with a sore hip, one that had needed rest and treatment in the lead-up to The Championships and one that he was nursing through the rounds once he got here. But against big Sam and his even bigger serve, he could go no further. He lasted for three sets – and was 2-1 up – but then Querrey’s serving arm loosened up, Murray’s hip started to complain and the champion’s reign was over.
Still, Murray had done what he could. He had tried everything in his power to hang on to his title but it was just not to be. His game is built around his lightning fast movement around the court; trying to reach an eighth semi-final in SW19 was simply not possible on one leg.
“The whole tournament I’ve been a little bit sore,” he said. “But I tried my best right to the end. You know, gave everything I had. I’m proud about that. But it’s obviously disappointing to lose at Wimbledon. There’s obviously an opportunity there. So I’m sad that it’s over.”
That said, Murray was not far away from achieving his goal. He won the first set with ease, he took the early lead in the second set and again in the third set. He just did not have the legs to carry him through five sets of run-and-chase.
“I was pretty close today. It wasn’t like I was, like, a million miles away from winning the match,” he said. “Obviously the end was a bit of a struggle. But, you know, I almost found a way to get into the semis. I wasn’t that far away from doing that.
“I think I had chances in the first three sets. I mean, the second set, I think I was up 4-3, then got broken twice there. That obviously turned out to be quite an important part of the match.
“I did manage to win the third. You know, maybe I could have got the match done in three sets there had I closed out the second after getting the break.
“Sam served extremely well at the end of the match, you know, loosened up, was going for his shots. Nothing much I could do.”
Murray will discuss his options with his team in the coming days. The hip problem is nothing new; he has been dealing with it, on and off, for years. But when it flared up again after his semi-final loss at the French Open, there was not time enough for him to let the condition settle and heal sufficiently before he was into the thick of the grass court season.
Now he and Ivan Lendl, together with the rest of the team, have to start laying plans to make sure he is in fine fettle for the US Open at the end of the summer.
“Before the tournament, [the plan] was very short-term because you want to play Wimbledon,” Murray said. “You want to play all of the Slams and give your best chance there. We were looking at short-term solutions.
“I knew I wasn’t going to do any major damage by playing. So obviously wanted to try, if possible, to find a way at the end. Obviously it wasn’t the case.
“Obviously I managed to get through a bunch of matches and did okay. Now I’ll sit down with my team and look at the next step, look a little bit longer term. The US Open is, I don’t know, six, seven weeks away maybe, something like that. [I will] sit down with my team tomorrow and come up with a plan for what I have to do next.”
He is not sure what that plan will involve: maybe some extra time off, maybe some specific work designed just for the hip. Whatever it is he needs to do, he will think about that once he has had a few days at home with his family and a little time to get over the disappointment of his loss to Querrey.
By then, he may have lost his No.1 ranking, too (it all depends on other people’s results this week). But Murray is ready for that – in a year of moderate results for the Briton, he knows his spell at the top is coming to an end.
“I haven’t played well enough this year to deserve to stay there for much longer,” he said simply. “If it doesn’t happen by the end of this tournament, it will happen by the end of the US Open.”
But, hopefully, by the end of the US Open, he will have two working hips and will have the physical wherewithal to go toe to toe with Querrey for five full sets should they happen to meet again in New York.
Source: Alix Ramsay| Wimbledon