Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic Eliminated at Wimbledon
WIMBLEDON, England — It was a day of attrition at Wimbledon on Wednesday as the top two seeds on the men’s singles draw hobbled out of the tournament.
No. 1 Andy Murray and No. 2 Novak Djokovic, both struggling with injuries, were eliminated in the quarterfinal round in a startling day at the All England Club.
Murray has a sore hip that stifled his movement on court, and the No. 24 seed Sam Querrey took advantage to win, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-1.
Hours later, Djokovic was forced to retire against 11th-seeded Tomas Berdych with a sore right arm. Djokovic received treatment on his arm and shoulder early in the match, but with Berdych leading, 7-6 (2), 2-0, Djokovic hit a forehand, grimaced in pain, then walked to the net to tell Berdych he could not go on.
For more than a week, Murray has tried to reassure a nervous nation that his sore hip was not a matter of concern. He spoke of ice baths and special treatment, but said his hip was improving every day.
Despite walking around the grounds with the hitch of a man twice his age, the top-seeded Murray somehow moved with his usual pace on court while winning his first four matches. But on Wednesday, it appeared his hip could withstand the punishment no longer.
Showing more difficulty in his movement and less balance on his strokes and serve, Murray was eventually overwhelmed by the big-serving Querrey, who advanced to his first semifinal of a major tournament.
“I’m still in a little bit of shock myself,” Querrey said in a television interview after the match.
Murray has consistently played down his own injury, but as his movement clearly deteriorated and the home fans grew more concerned, Querrey’s court coverage improved and he perhaps sensed an opening. He rebounded from a poor tiebreaker in the third set to win nine of the next 10 games and 12 of the next 14 to eliminate Murray, the defending champion.
Querrey, 29, became the first American man to reach a semifinal of a Grand Slam tournament since Andy Roddick at Wimbledon in 2009. Roddick beat Murray in that semifinal and lost to Roger Federer in the final.
Querrey, after failing to reach a major semifinal in 41 previous attempts, has the big serve and power game necessary to excel at Wimbledon, but his best result was the quarterfinals last year after he upset Djokovic, then the No. 1 seed and the defending champion, in the third round.
On Friday, Querrey will play No. 7 Marin Cilic, a former United States Open champion, who eliminated No. 16 Gilles Müller, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 7-5, 5-7, 6-1, on Court No. 1. Berdych will face third-seeded Roger Federer, who quickly dispatched sixth-seeded Milos Raonic, 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (4).
Federer, who will turn 36 next month, is seeking his eighth Wimbledon title. After losing to Raonic in the semifinals of Wimbledon last year, he took the rest of the season off. After returning in January, he won the Australian Open for his 18th Grand Slam title and followed that with two prominent hardcourt championships in the United States. He skipped the clay-court season entirely and is once again in top form at his favorite tournament.
British tennis fans had been hoping that Murray could join Johanna Konta, the highest-ranked woman from Britain, in the semifinals, after they became the first man and woman from the country to advance to the last eight of the same championships since 1973.
Even with his hip problem, Murray had baffled observers and opponents alike by walking with a slight limp but running as if nothing were wrong. That seemed to be the case in the first three sets Wednesday, and his ability to run down shots is a crucial aspect of his game.
Murray started off winning the first seven points of the match and the first two games. He even jogged from side to side of the court between points, looking sprightly.
But as the match progressed, and his uneven gait became more pronounced between points, it was clear he was under duress. By the final two sets, it often seemed his best hope was to call for replay challenges, few of which went in his favor. His face was contorted in obvious discomfort late in the match, including at one point in the fifth set when he bit the knuckle on his index finger.
Murray would not retire from the match, but Querrey was merciless and smart, pushing him from corner to corner to make a bad situation worse.
The fans, despite the disappointing result, still applauded Querrey for his achievement. He smiled and waved to them when it was finally over, and Murray walked off the court, still doing his best to disguise his uncomfortable gait.