Andy Murray questions his future after a tough loss at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON, England – After a year in which Wimbledon was called off for the first time since World War II, the brief hiatus on center court on Friday afternoon was relatively sparkling.

As 2017 champion Garbiñe Muguruza tossed the ball into the air for her serve in the last game of the first set, a loud pop broke the silence. A spectator in the stands had uncorked a bottle of champagne.

Muguruza regrouped and the crowd chuckled, an appropriate reaction in a tournament where the outlook was decidedly cheerful, although the aging star players wondered how many sips they could give them.

Although the skies were sunny only intermittently and the slippery grass tripped many athletes in the early days, the first week of Wimbledon saw a sport and a country emerge for its favorite garden party. However, in response to the pandemic that led to last year’s cancellation, hand sanitizer pumps are hidden among the hydrangeas.

Many of the usual Wimbledon sights were on display on Friday. The Duchess of Cambridge, one of the British royal family’s biggest tennis fans, was seated in the front row. The strawberries were ripe, and the crowd was their usual patchwork of pastel summer suits, summer dresses, and smiling faces.

There is no compulsory mask for supporters seated in the stands. To enter the field, a spectator must present either proof of double Covid-19 vaccination or a recent negative test result.

Pitches have been limited to half the usual capacity, and center court is expected to be full for the men’s and women’s finals next weekend.

“It’s great to feel normal,” said 23rd seed Madison Keys, who beat 13th seed Elise Mertens, 7-5, 6-3. Keys, however, added that his Wimbledon experience off the pitch was significantly different from the usual as the players are confined to a hotel.

Perhaps adding to the sense of normalcy here, the British players suffered disappointing back-to-back losses on center court on Friday.

22nd seed Daniel Evans, the highest ranked British singles player, lost 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to American Sebastian Korda, who made his Center Court debut just three days before his 21st birthday.

Then came Andy Murray, the two-time Wimbledon champion who ended a 77-year famine for his homeland by winning the title in 2013.

Murray played in front of a boisterous center-court crowd for his first two games this year, especially his five-set second-round victory over Oscar Otte, after which Murray was so thrilled that he started giving fans various articles from the runs that haven’t. belong to him, like an umbrella used by ball collectors.

But on Friday night, Murray was as flat as champagne for a day. He was routed, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, by 10th seed Denis Shapovalov in the most unbalanced loss of his 70 appearances at Wimbledon.

“It was great to play in front of the crowd again,” said Murray. “I have received incredible support here. Yeah, I’m so thankful for that, something that I missed. Yeah, that reminds you too, yeah, why you do all the work and stuff. “

By the end of his post-game press conference, Murray’s appreciation for the frame waned.

After noting that he was grateful he hadn’t injured himself again after years of struggling with persistent hip injuries, Murray, 34, looked into the bitterest feelings and questions that the decisive loss had raised.

“There’s a part of me that feels like I’ve worked so hard over the past three months and ultimately not playing how I would like and what I expected,” he said. he declares. “And, it’s like, is it worth it?” Does all that training and everything you do in the gym – unless you can practice and improve your game and get matches and a series of tournaments, like, is it worth all the work you are doing ? “

Murray then weighed the two possible answers.

“There is a part of me that feels, yes it’s true, because I had good memories and stuff from that event and I played in a brilliant atmosphere,” he said. -he declares. “But then, too, I finished the game tonight and I say to my team, ‘Yeah, I’m just not happy with the way I played.'”

Murray seemed to set an ultimatum for his career.

“Unless my team and I can find a way to keep myself on the pitch for a consistent period of time and allow myself to train the way I need to compete with these guys, then, yeah, so that’s where the discussions about what i do next will come in, ”he said. “Because I’ve really invested a lot to get there, but I’m not able to train and prepare for what I need to perform the way I want to at these events.”

Murray then made it clear that he did not expect to overtake Shapovalov.

“He’s a brilliant player,” said Murray. “But I feel like I can do a lot better than what I did tonight.”

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