ANDY MURRAY hobbled out of Wimbledon just as he had hobbled into it.
In a stunning quarter-final defeat, the reigning champion’s injury to his left hip finally caught up with him and Sam Querrey took full advantage to reach his first Grand Slam semi final.
Murray could have won the match in straight sets, having led by a break in the first three.
And when he claimed the third on a tiebreak, victory still seemed likely.
But the Scot’s service speeds had been dropping all match, suggesting a problem with pushing off on the left hip.
And in the fourth set, he was unable to stay in the rallies as he struggled with his movement, particularly from right to left.
Murray lost four service games in a row from 1-1 in the fourth to find himself 3-0 down in the decider.
He finally stopped the rot but could not prevent Querrey, the No 24 seed, from completing a 3-6 6-4 6-7 6-1 6-1 victory.
The defeat was all the more shocking given the way Murray had begun the match.
The first set could hardly have gone better for the defending champion.
Querrey sent down five first serves in the second game, but won the point just once and found himself down a break which he never looked like retrieving.
Murray made just two unforced errors in nine games and 28 minutes of calm superiority.
The second set was heading the same way when Murray broke the Querrey serve in the seventh game.
But then, out of nowhere, the No24 seed won three points on the Murray serve for the first time in the match and took his first break point opportunity with confidence: 4-4.
And as the Scot lost his way badly for a few key minutes, Querrey seized the day and converted his second set point to level the match.
Murray seemed to have checked the American’s momentum by breaking serve at the start of the third, but his own serve speeds were dropping badly.
He was able to live off his wits for a while, finding little bits of magic when required while Querrey held serve with ease.
But when the Scot served for the set, Querrey broke him to 15 and then ensured the best Murray could hope for was a tiebreak.
In the breaker, though, Querrey faltered. A trademark Murray chasedown left the American with a routine smash but he buried it in the net.
Murray went on to take a 6-1 lead before finally clinching the set at the fourth time of asking, 7-4.
Murray’s first serve speed had regularly fallen below 100mph but now his whole game was starting to fall apart.
The Brit dropped his serve to love in the third game of the fourth set and twice more in a shocking few moments for the home crowd. .
By now it was clear that something was badly wrong with the defending champion and all the momentum was with Querrey.
Murray, as ever, fought until the bitter end. But for once it was not enough.
The point of the match ended with Querrey breaking for a 5-1 lead and the big server sealed the biggest win of his career with an ace.