Wimbledon: Reigning champ Murray dethroned in painful fashion
LONDON — Andy Murray's Wimbledon title defense evaporated on Centre Court in a painful five-set demise to Sam Querrey on Wednesday as the hip injury that has dogged the world number one throughout the tournament finally got the better of him.
Also gone is three-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic, who retired during his quarterfinals match against Tomas Berdych with an elbow injury.
While his top three rivals for the championship were packing up their gear, seven-time champion Roger Federer outclassed Milos Raonic in three sets to reach a record 12th Wimbledon semifinal, where he will face Berdych.
Murray's hopes of becoming the first Briton to retain a grand slam title since Fred Perry in 1936 were shredded as he hobbled helplessly to a 3-6, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-1 quarterfinal defeat.
The encounter ended in almost brutal fashion, as Murray struggled to move freely around the court in the final two sets and the big-serving Querrey ruthlessly put him to the sword, wrapping up victory with his 27th booming ace.
Despite the best efforts of the Centre Court crowd to cajole a miracle recovery from the limping Briton, Murray's troublesome hip proved beyond help and he was swiftly dispatched, with the final two sets taking just under 47 minutes.
Querrey can now lay claim to the title of Wimbledon's chief giant-killer, after slaying then-champion Novak Djokovic last year. He becomes the first American man to reach a grand slam semifinal since Andy Roddick at Wimbledon in 2009.
"I'm still in shock myself," he said after setting up a semifinal encounter with Marin Cilic.
"I didn't start my best but kept with it and kept swinging and I hit my groove in the fourth and fifth sets.
"It feels great and it's a dream come true ... to get to a semifinal and have it happen at Wimbledon makes it a bit more special."
Having toured the game's most awkward and unconventional opponents in the opening four rounds, Murray finally got to face a more routine tennis archetype.
There are few surprises with Querrey's game. He stands at 6-foot-6-inches and uses his giant frame to launch bullets from the sky and backs up his huge serve with an occasional haymaker forehand.
His gameplan seemed to involve turning Centre Court into a firing range which brought him little success in the opening set, but as Murray's movement became increasingly pained, the match turned emphatically in the American's favor.
Querrey would have been hard pushed to imagine such a glorious ending as Murray punished him almost at will in the opening set, when it was Murray's serve that did the greater damage and the 29-year-old seemed wracked with nerves.
Murray claimed that in 28 minutes and there was barely a hint of his vulnerability when he broke for a 4-3 lead in the second.
There were stunned murmurs of discontent from the home crowd, however, as Querrey broke twice to level the match, wrapping up the second set with a beautiful backhand winner.
That still seemed only a momentary blip for the champion, who broke immediately at the start of the third set to move back into a short-lived ascendancy.
Querrey struck back in the 10th game forcing the set into a tiebreak and while Murray held his nerve to move back into the lead, from that point the writing was on the wall.
The home fans willed their man to scramble freely around the court, but his grimaces told their own story as he looked up to his box and seemed to mouth "it's gone, it's gone" in the fourth set.
Querrey won nine games in a row to take the fourth and open up a 3-0 lead in the fifth, before breaking again to move one game from victory.
Two Querrey aces helped bring up three match points and one more finished the job off, leaving Murray to salute the home fans with an almost apologetic wave goodbye.
"The whole tournament I've been a little bit sore," Murray told reporters. "But I tried my best right to the end, gave everything I had. I'm proud about that."
Elbow injury shelves Djokovic
Three-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic's painful year continued as he retired with an elbow injury during his quarterfinal against Czech Tomas Berdych on Wednesday.
The second seed had lost the opening set and was down a break in the second when he walked to the net and shook his opponent's hand.
The retirement, with the score at 7-6(2) 2-0, came shortly after the 30-year-old Serb called a medical timeout.
Djokovic said his right elbow had been bothering him for over a year and a half and that he had been feeling pain from the beginning of the tournament.
"The intensity and the level of pain was not decreasing. It was only increasing as the days went by," he said. "Unfortunately, today was the worst day.
"It's unfortunate that I had to finish Wimbledon, a grand slam, this way," he added. "I mean, if someone feels bad about it, it's me. But, you know, I tried."
He also said the postponement of his last-16 match against Adrian Mannarino, which was pushed a day to Tuesday because of the marathon five-setter in which Gilles Muller beat Rafael Nadal, might have played a role.
"Probably the fact that I played yesterday, kind of days adding up, as I've said before, it wasn't helping at all," he said.
The retirement is a another blow for the former world number one, who has surrendered his Australian and French Open titles this year and slipped to fourth in the world.
The result means Berdych, 31, has reached the semi-finals for the second year running. The Czech has also broken a streak of 12 losses against his tormentor-in-chief Djokovic, whom he had previously only beaten twice in 27 matches.
Fed on pace for 19th major
Roger Federer turned his 100th Wimbledon match into an exhibition as he outclassed Milos Raonic 6-4 6-2 7-6(4) on Wednesday to reach the semi-finals for a record 12th time.
The Swiss, who turns 36 next month, played his best tennis of the tournament to dismantle the big-serving Canadian who knocked him out at the semi-final stage last year.
Seven-times champion Federer hit two rasping backhand winners and a forehand that had Raonic ducking for cover to break serve in the fifth game.
Sixth seed Raonic's belief ebbed away at the start of the second set when he offered up another break with a careless forehand and Federer went for the jugular with a further break of the Canadian's delivery as he established a two-set lead.
Federer was made to sweat a little in the third set and had to save four break points at 3-4 as Raonic finally began to hit his groundstrokes with more menace.
Raonic went 3-0 ahead in the tiebreak too but 18-times major champion Federer responded with two majestic forehand passes as he regained control with five points in a row.
An 11th ace brought up a match point and Federer clinched victory when Raonic shunted a backhand wide.
Federer has yet to drop a set in the tournament this year and with defending champion Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal all out he is a huge favourite to become the first man to win the Wimbledon title eight times.
He will play Czech Tomas Berdych, the 11th seed, in the last four.