Disheartened former champion Sir Andy Murray conceded that he no longer warrants world No1 status after crashing out of Wimbledon with defeat to American powerhouse Sam Querrey on Centre Court.
Murray’s hopes of becoming the first British player to retain a grand slam title since Fred Perry in 1936 were dashed by a hip injury and world No 24 Querrey, who prevailed 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-1 to set-up a semi-final with seventh seed and 2014 US Open winner Marin Cilic.
The Scot would have surrendered top spot in the men’s world rankings had Novak Djokovic claimed the SW19 crown, but the Serbian’s retirement during the second set of his last-eight tussle with Tomas Berdych offered a stay of execution.
But after a turbulent year blighted by illness, injury – Murray had a pronounced limp for the majority his Querrey demise – and downturn in form, the 30-year-old admits relegation from his stature as the planet’s best in inevitable.
“I haven’t played well enough this year to deserve to stay there for much longer,” said Murray, speaking ahead of Djokovic’s retirement. “If it doesn’t happen by the end of this tournament, it will happen by the end of the US Open.
“I don’t think anyone has ever stayed at No1 their whole career. It always comes to an end. That’s fine. Obviously, I would rather be ranked No1 than 2, 3 or 4. I go away now and try and find a way to get back there. Hopefully I can do that.”
Murray had appeared on course for victory after nonchalantly taking the first set and finding himself a break up in the second, only for Querrey, who by that stage had shown mere fleeting moments of dynamism, to hit back.
Successive breaks of serve gave the 29-year-old the second set, and while Murray sealed the third in a tie-break, Querrey blitzed his rival in the fourth and fifth. In the final throes of defeat, three-time grand slam winner Murray appeared completely bereft of flow and rhythm due to his troublesome hip injury, losing 12 of the last 14 games.
Querrey, meanwhile, who hit 70 winners, became the first male American to reach the semi-finals of Wimbledon since Andy Roddick in 2009. Cilic will be his semi-final opponent after the Croatian beat Gilles Muller, the conqueror of Rafael Nadal, in five sets.
The other last-four encounter is between seven-time winner Roger Federer, who beat Milos Raonic in straight sets, and Berdych following former world No1 Djokovic’s enforced withdrawal due to an elbow injury. Djokovic said: “It’s the elbow that has kept bothering me for over a year and a half. I haven’t felt his much pain since I’ve had this injury.”