Sam’s the man as hob­bling Mur­ray crashes at Wimbledon

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Limp­ing be­tween points and fad­ing down the stretch, de­fend­ing cham­pion Andy Mur­ray was stunned by 24th-seeded Sam Quer­rey of the US 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-1 in the Wimbledon quar­ter­fi­nals yes­ter­day.

The No. 1-seeded Mur­ray came into the tour­na­ment deal­ing with a sore left hip and it clearly im­peded him at Cen­tre Court. He gri­maced as he stum­bled or landed awk­wardly while at­tempt­ing shots. Quer­rey took full ad­van­tage to reach the first Grand Slam semi­fi­nal of his ca­reer - and the first for any Amer­i­can man any­where since Andy Rod­dick was the run­ner-up at Wimbledon in 2009. “I am still in a lit­tle bit of shock my­self,” Quer­rey said. There was an­other quar­ter­fi­nal sur­prise, when three-time Wimbledon cham­pion No­vak Djokovic stopped play­ing be­cause of a right arm in­jury while trail­ing 2010 run­ner-up To­mas Berdych of the Czech Repub­lic 7-6 (2), 2-0. After drop­ping the open­ing set, Djokovic took a med­i­cal time­out while a trainer mas­saged his arm. A day ear­lier, dur­ing his fourth-round match, Djokovic had his right shoul­der worked on by a trainer. In Fri­day’s semi­fi­nals, Quer­rey will face 2014 US Open cham­pion Marin Cilic of Croatia, who also won a five-set­ter yes­ter­day, get­ting past 16th-seeded Gilles Muller 3-6, 7-6 (6), 7-5, 5-7, 6-1 with the help of 33 aces. On the other half of the draw, Berdych will face Roger Fed­erer or Mi­los Raonic next.

Mur­ray is nor­mally a ter­rific re­turner, but Quer­rey hit 27 aces, in­clud­ing on six of the last nine points he served to fin­ish with a flour­ish. Quer­rey was im­pec­ca­ble for por­tions of the match, fin­ish­ing with 70 win­ners and only 30 un­forced er­rors. “He was dic­tat­ing all of the points,” Mur­ray said. From 1-all in the fourth, Quer­rey grabbed eight games in a row to take that set and lead 3-0 in the last. “I didn’t start my best, but I just kept with it. Kept swing­ing away and then re­ally found a groove in the fourth and fifth set,” Quer­rey said. “And ev­ery­thing kind of seemed to be fall­ing my way then.”

It is the sec­ond year in a row that the 29-yearold Cal­i­for­nian up­set the de­fend­ing cham­pion and top-seeded man at the All Eng­land Club. In 2016, he beat Djokovic in the third round en route to the only ma­jor quar­ter­fi­nal of Quer­rey’s ca­reer be­fore yes­ter­day.

DOM­I­NANCE

That snapped Djokovic’s 30-match win­ning streak at the ma­jors. Mur­ray didn’t have that sort of re­cent dom­i­nance, but he is a three-time ma­jor cham­pion and had been to at least the semi­fi­nals at the All Eng­land Club in seven of the past eight years. The hip, though, was a prob­lem. Mur­ray had to skip some prac­tice ses­sions and pull out of a cou­ple of planned ex­hi­bi­tion matches in the leadup to Wimbledon. Even though he kept in­sist­ing once the tour­na­ment be­gan that he was OK, he was not nearly ca­pa­ble of his best on this af­ter­noon.

Mur­ray’s serve speeds slowed, and his back­hand, in par­tic­u­lar, didn’t have its usual verve, ei­ther. One key to his suc­cess is his court cov­er­age, which al­lows him to play de­fense as well as any­one. That was not the case in the lat­ter stages against Quer­rey. “I was pretty close to­day. It wasn’t like I was, like, a mil­lion miles away from win­ning the match,” Mur­ray said. “Ob­vi­ously the end was a bit of a strug­gle.”

Quer­rey is the low­est-ranked player to ever beat two-time Wimbledon cham­pion Mur­ray in his 12 ap­pear­ances at the grass-court Grand Slam tour­na­ment. For Mur­ray, this was the fourth five-set match he’s lost in a row. Quer­rey is headed in the op­po­site di­rec­tion: Merely 4-10 in fifth sets for his ca­reer un­til last week, he has won each of his last three matches by go­ing the dis­tance: against 12th-seeded Jo-Wil­fried Tsonga in the third round, Kevin An­der­son in the fourth, and now Mur­ray.

Quer­rey al­ways has had an in­tim­i­dat­ing serve, but he’s never man­aged to put to­gether his over­all game for enough matches to play on the fi­nal week­end at a ma­jor. In­deed, un­til last year’s win over Djokovic, he might have been best known for some of his un­usual off-court episodes. In Thai­land for a 2009 tour­na­ment, he cut two mus­cles in his right arm when he sat on a glass ta­ble that shat­tered. Two years ago, he ap­peared on the re­al­ity TV show “The Mil­lion­aire Match­maker.”There’s a pop­u­lar video clip on so­cial me­dia of Quer­rey - sun­glasses and hat on, shirt un­but­toned - danc­ing with friends wear­ing horse-head masks. Now Quer­rey’s on­court ac­com­plish­ment yes­ter­day will make head­lines. Win two more matches, and he’ll be the Wimbledon cham­pion.— AP

LON­DON: Sam Quer­rey of the United States races to vol­ley to Bri­tain’s Andy Mur­ray dur­ing their Men’s Sin­gles Quar­ter­fi­nal Match on day nine at the Wimbledon Ten­nis Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don yes­ter­day. — AP

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