Sam Querrey stunned Centre Court on Wednesday, as he came from behind twice to beat defending champion and top seed Andy Murray 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-1 in their Wimbledon quarter-final.
At points, Murray looked to be in total control of the contest and was expected to hammer home the advantages he had crafted. But Querrey, seeded 24th, roared back in the final two sets and overpowered the Scotsman, who was evidently feeling the effects of an injury.
Next up for the man from the United States will be the winner of the clash between Marin Cilic and Gilles Muller.
Murray started the match quickly by holding serve routinely in the opening game. His opponent, by contrast, began with the ball in hand with a double fault and set the tempo for the first set.
Querrey was unable to hold serve at the first time of asking and Murray zoomed into a 3-0 lead. From there, it was a challenge for the American to get back in contention, as the home favourite seized the set.
As noted by the Eurosport UK Twitter feed, it didn’t take the top seed long to edge in front:
Eurosport UK @Eurosport_UK
Bish, bash, bosh! Murray takes the opening set 6/3 in just 28 minutes LIVE: https://t.co/wyWfBkz7kT #Wimbledon https://t.co/rtInj7x6Hl2017-7-12 12:40:09
The second set seemed poised to follow a similar pattern, with Murray again capitalising on some sloppy serving to break and go 4-3 ahead.
But to his credit, Querrey showed the kind of big-hitting that has taken him so far at Wimbledon by finding better angles with his groundstrokes and making smarter decisions at the net. He broke back to make it 4-4 and then held serve to move in front.
From that point on in the set, it was Murray who looked ragged, with errors creeping into his game at a decisive stage. Querrey was emboldened and whipped away a backhand to take the second set.
Dan Kilpatrick of ESPN FC picked up on the drop-off in standards from the defending champion:
Dan Kilpatrick @Dan_KP
#Wimbledon Murray so sloppy after breaking Querrey. 3 or 4 unforced errors and it's all square at 1-set all.2017-7-12 13:17:54
Remarkably, with momentum behind him at the start of the third set, Querrey put together a rotten service game, which allowed Murray to immediately get a break with a beautifully angled drop shot.
The set seemed routine for Murray from that point, as each man held his serve, which handed the top seed a chance to serve for a 2-1 lead. Yet once again, uncharacteristically, the Scot wobbled under pressure.
It allowed Querrey to find a foothold and eventually send the third stanza to a tiebreak. The American wasn’t able to assert himself in the breaker, though, as Murray blitzed into a 6-1 lead and eventually took it 7-4.
As noted by Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times, while the champion wasn’t at his best, Querrey was not making the most of his chances:
Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg
Murray looking limpy and gimpy bailed out by a horrendous start to the tiebreak from Querrey. Sir Andy might just survive this. #Wimbledon2017-7-12 14:04:34
In the fourth set he did. A sloppy second service game from Murray allowed Querrey an early advantage and this time, the American was relentless in pursuing more points and broke the champion for a second time and then a third on the way to a 6-1 set win.
Although the underdog had clearly stepped up a gear, all was not well with the champion, who was struggling to chase down balls. Thoughts quickly turned to the hip problems that had hampered him pre-tournament.
Murray’s chin was buried in his chest at the changeover and as noted by the tournament’s official Twitter feed, there was no halting Querrey at the start of the deciding set:
Querrey on the verge? He wins a *ninth* game in a row to take a 3-0 lead in the decider... #Wimbledon https://t.co/JkU8dozwCZ2017-7-12 14:36:03
Although Murray was able to finally stop the rot and make it 3-1, it was obvious he was suffering with some sort of fitness issue, with his mobility limited. At times, he could only watch gettable balls fly past him.
Querrey, taking no chances, continued to apply pressure with thunderous serving. With his opponent a sitting duck on the other side, Querrey coasted to the biggest win of his career.