Andy Murray suffered his earliest exit at Wimbledon as he was beaten in the second round in four sets by John Isner on Centre Court.
Two-time champion Murray had never previously lost before the third round at the All England Club in 13 attempts, but couldn’t overcome a dominant serving display from Isner, who won 6-4 7-6(4) 6-7(3) 6-4.
Isner finished with 36 aces and made 73 per cent of his first serves. He also converted two of his three break-point chances while Murray passed up both of his.
On such margins the match was decided after an impressive showing from Isner, who will face Italian rising star Jannik Sinner in the third round.
“It is no secret I am not a better player than Murray, I may have just been a little better than him today,” said Isner in his on-court interview.
“I need to relish these moments, this was one of the biggest wins of my career. To play as well as I did against one of the greatest players ever is a huge accomplishment for me.
“He is a massive inspiration for us in the locker room and we are lucky to still have him around. I had an incredible serving day and I needed every bit of it to beat him.
“This will be at the very top for me.”
Although Isner made a Wimbledon semi-final in 2018 and has one of the biggest serves around, this was expected to a match that Murray would win. He hadn’t lost in eight previous meetings with Isner and, as one of the game’s great returners, has usually been able to blunt his serve.
But Isner set the tone from the start, earning the first break of the match in the third game as he looked to attack Murray’s serve and forced the decisive error with a strong return.
Murray spurned two chances to hit straight back as Isner got out of trouble with a neat drop volley and an ace. From then on there were few inroads for Murray against the serve as Isner fired down successive love holds before another strong game to win the set.
Murray continued to struggle to impact Isner’s impressive serving in the second set.
Although Murray wasn’t overly tested on his own serve either, he crucially dropped the first point against serve in the tie-break to hand Isner the initiative.
The former Wimbledon semi-finalist didn’t pass up the chance, taking the set to extend his advantage as Murray vented his frustration at his box.
Isner’s first-serve percentage was at 77 after the first two sets and there was no let up.
The Centre Court crowd tried to urge Murray on and he delivered with a nerveless tie-break, winning the first three points and then jumping into the air in delight and yelling as he took the set.
It looked as though Murray might carry the momentum into the fourth set as he started to win a few more points against the serve.
But the outcome of the match was ultimately decided in the fifth game.
Murray slammed his racquet down in frustration as he failed to pass Isner at 30-30 and although he saved the break point with a good passing shot, he followed up with two bad misses in a row to hand Isner the game.
Even a short break to close the roof due to the fading light couldn’t throw off Isner, who sealed the win in impressive fashion, serving well and then sticking away a volley on match point.
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