Andy Murray does not believe he has played well enough this season “to deserve to stay” in the No1 spot for much longer, the Scot admitted following his five-set defeat to Sam Querrey in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.
It was just the third time in his last 10 Wimbledon appearances that Murray has failed to reach the semi-finals at the All England Club, as he bid farewell to the tournament with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-1 defeat to the 24th-seeded Querrey.
Playing the entire Championships with a sore hip, Murray fought through a difficult fortnight before surrendering to the American. The world No1 has had several tough moments in 2017, and although he won Dubai and reached the Roland Garros semi-finals, his season as a whole has not been up to his standards as he now drops to 25-10 win-loss on the year.
If Novak Djokovic wins the Wimbledon title, the Serb would take back the world No1 ranking from Murray, who had replaced him at the top end of last year.
“It was going to happen at some stage. I don’t think anyone has ever stayed at No1 their whole career. It always comes to an end,” said Murray on Wednesday.
“I haven’t played well enough this year to deserve to stay there for much longer. If it doesn’t happen by the end of this tournament, it will happen by the end of the US Open.
“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, who won Wimbledon last year and in 2013, came into the tournament with a hip problem, that interrupted his preparation. He seemed visibly in pain towards the end of his match with Querrey.
“The whole tournament I’ve been a little bit sore. But I tried my best right to the end. You know, gave everything I had. I’m proud about that,” said the 30-year-old. “But it’s obviously disappointing to lose at Wimbledon. There’s obviously an opportunity there. So I’m sad that it’s over.”
Querrey upped his serving stats in the final set, and dropped just one point on serve, as he sealed a place in the semi-finals, becoming the first American man to reach that stage at a Grand Slam since Andy Roddick in 2009.
Murray did not think of retiring from the match, despite being in pain.
“I knew I wasn’t going to do any major damage (to my hip) by playing. So obviously wanted to try, if possible, find a way at the end,” said the Brit. “Obviously it wasn’t the case.
“Sam served great. The end of the fourth set and fifth set, felt like he hardly missed any first serves. He was acing me pretty much every time. I wasn’t getting enough power on my serve to put him in any bother there. So he was dictating all of the points.”
The three-time major champion will now go back to the drawing board with his team, and work on returning to full fitness before next month’s US Open.
“Now I’ll sit down with my team and look at the next step, look a little bit longer term. The US Open’s, I don’t know, six, seven weeks away maybe, something like that. You know, sit down with my team tomorrow and come up with a plan for what I have to do next,” he said.
“This year has obviously been frustrating at times. It’s not been the easiest. But, you know, I’ll want to obviously come back and try and compete for majors. Yeah, that’s what I’ll try and do.”
Johanna Konta became the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals for 39 years on Tuesday, while five-time champion Venus Williams also made history as the oldest semi-finalist since 1994.
Konta thrilled the patriotic Centre Court crowd with a pulsating 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory that ended second seed Simona Halep’s bid to become the new world number one.
In a potentially classic semi-final on Thursday, Konta faces American star Venus.
Williams had her own landmark moment on Centre Court with a 6-3, 7-5 win over French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko that made her the oldest semi-finalist at the All England Club since Martina Navratilova 23 years ago.
Halep’s defeat means Czech Karolina Pliskova, who lost in the Wimbledon second round, will replace Angelique Kerber on top of the WTA rankings.
Konta, 26, is the first Briton since Virginia Wade in 1978 to make the women’s semi-finals.
Wade, the last British woman to win Wimbledon in 1977, was watching from the Royal Box as Konta reached the second Grand Slam semi-final of her career, the other ending in a 2016 Australian Open defeat against Kerber.
“Right now it’s a little bit surreal just because it’s quite incredible how quickly things go in tennis. I’m definitely digesting things a little bit still,” said Konta, who was ranked outside the top 150 two years ago.
“I knew Simona was not going to give me much for free. I had to be the one to create my own chances. I feel fortunate enough that I took a few of them.”
Born in Australia to Hungarian parents, Konta didn’t move to England until she was 14, switching her allegiance from the country of her birth to Britain when she gained citizenship in 2012.
Adapting to the grass courts of south-west London hadn’t been so easy for Konta, who won just one match in her previous five visits to Wimbledon.
Those failures will seem a lifetime ago to Konta now.
If she wins Wimbledon it will be the first grass-court title of her career, coming just two weeks after she feared her participation in the tournament might be ruined by a back injury suffered in the Eastbourne warm-up event.
Standing in Konta’s way is world number 11 Williams, who was beaten in this year’s Australian Open final and is chasing a first major title since winning Wimbledon in 2008.
Williams, who reached the last of her eight Wimbledon finals in 2009, has now equalled her sister Serena’s total of 86 main draw match victories at Wimbledon, the most among any active player.
“I love this game. That’s why I put in the effort and the time. It’s a beautiful game. It’s been so good to me,” said Venus, who is bidding to break Serena’s record as Wimbledon’s oldest champion in the Open era.
“The competition keeps you growing. You have to get better if you want to stay relevent. I love the challenge.”
Having stunned the tennis world by becoming the first unseeded player to win the French Open last month, Ostapenko was riding an 11-match winning streak at the majors. But the 20-year-old was the youngest player left in the tournament and Venus has scythed through the draw by dispatching a series of opponents almost half her age.
Twenty years after making her Wimbledon debut, Venus was playing in her 100th singles match at the All England Club, while Ostapenko was in only her eighth.
That gulf in experience was apparent as Venus cruised through in serene fashion.
Garbine Muguruza powered into her second Wimbledon semi-final in the last three years with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Russian seventh seed Kuznetsova.
Since winning her maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open last year, Muguruza has struggled to return to the top and this is her first major semi-final since that Roland Garros triumph.
“I played good. I’m trying not to think a lot, just go for it and play my game. I’m happy it worked out,” Muguruza said.
Muguruza, beaten by Serena in the 2015 Wimbledon final, faces Slovakian world number 87 Magdalena Rybarikova in the last four.
Rybarikova became the lowest ranked woman to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals for nine years as she shocked American 24th seed Coco Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-3. The 28-year-old, who had lost in the first round in eight of her previous nine visits to Wimbledon, said: “I would never ever believe I could be in the semi-final before this tournament.
“I’m really speechless. I’m so happy and grateful.”
Simona Halep has branded Karolina Pliskova a worthy world No1 after the Romanian lost her Wimbledon quarter-final to Johanna Konta, missing out on a chance to ascend to the top spot herself.
Halep was one win away from the summit of the rankings but fell 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-4 to home favourite Konta in a 2hr 38min battle on Tuesday.
The No2 seed also had the opportunity to get to No1 had she won her French Open final last month but ended up losing to an inspired Jelena Ostapenko, despite leading by a set and a break.
Asked about Pliskova’s imminent rise to No1 when the new rankings are released on Monday, Halep said: “She’s playing really well. This year she already has few titles won. I feel she deserves to be there. She has the best serve, I think, after Serena. So well done to her. She played really well this year. I think she’s happy now.”
Halep and Konta produced a high-quality affair, playing under the Centre Court roof, on a rainy day at SW19.
The match ended on a sour note as a spectator screamed mid-rally, thinking Halep had hit a long ball, and it distracted the Romanian, who then committed an error and lost the match.
Umpire Kader Nouni would not replay the point.
“I thought he’s going to repeat the point. I think it’s normal to repeat the point when someone is screaming like that,” Halep calmly said after the match when asked about the incident.
Asked why she didn’t protest longer, she added: “Because he said, ‘We cannot replay’. I cannot change anything. So why I should fight?”
The 25-year-old admits it was a frustrating defeat, but “not more than the final in French Open”.
She hit 26 winners against just nine unforced errors through the match and saved six of eight break points she faced.
“I think was close to the best, maybe the best (match I played on grass),” said Halep. “I thought my level was pretty high also hitting the balls, serves, how I served, and also the moving. Maybe I should stay a little bit more closer to the line. But she was hitting pretty strong. I think was a great match. I take the positives.”
Halep continues to suffer near-misses on the grand stage but she remains proud of her performances this fortnight.
Asked what positives she takes from Wimbledon, she said: “That I played so well after disappointing moment in French Open. I was able again to fight till the end. I played well, so my game is there. I’ve been okay.
“These are the positives. I cannot complain about anything because she played well today, and she got the match, she won the match.”
And on the disappointment of once again missing out on getting to No1, she said: “It’s nice to be in the top 10 for so long time. I’m really pleased with my performance. Of course, one of my goals is to get to No1. But I had another chance here. I was close, I could say. But doesn’t affect me that much because I think I have many years ahead. So maybe I will have more chances. I’m close, so I have just to keep working.”