Sad Ending For Murray At Queen’s Club, Retires Against Thompson

Andy Murray (photo: Luke Walker/Getty Images for LTA)

LONDON/WASHINGTON, June 19, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

Tennis can be such a cruel sport to those dedicated souls who have shouldered more than their fair share of injuries. Just ask a great champion like Andy Murray, a five-time titlist of the cinch Championships at the Queen’s Club in West London, what it’s like to have your body betray you.

On Wednesday afternoon, the 37-year-old Murray of Great Britain – in pain and discomfort – retired from his second-round match with No. 43 Jordan Thompson of Australia, trailing 4-1, due to a lower back problem.

The much-anticipated featured match starring the three-time major champion, ended 23 minutes after it began. It happened just a day after Murray celebrated his 1,000th career tour-level match with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over 48th-ranked Australian qualifier Alexei Popyrin.

In their brief encounter, Thompson outpointed Murray 18-8 and converted two of two break points against the two-time Wimbledon champion.

“It’s never the way you want to go through [to the quarterfinals], especially with a great champion like Andy,” Thompson said in a brief on-court interview. “This is a tournament he’s dominated and, you know, he loves the grass. I was actually really looking forward to coming out and playing in front of everyone. Thanks to everybody for coming out. It’s a disappointing way for it to finish.”

After shaking hands with Thompson, the 129th-ranked Murray, who entered this year’s event with a wild card, returned to the court and gave a long wave to the 10,000-strong crowd that filled Centre Court. Then, he walked off to a standing ovation and thunderous applause.

“I was pretty happy with the win yesterday,” Murray said in his post-match news conference, “but, yeah, my back has been a problem for quite a while. It’s been sore in the build-up for the tournament. It was pretty sore in my match yesterday. It was sore through today. Other than that, I was able to manage it. I was not comfortable playing, but I was able to manage it.” 

Murray went on to say because of his lower back problem, he felt a loss of power that extended down to his right leg during warm-ups. The British No. 4 will undergo a scan on Thursday to determine how he goes forward.

Might it have been Murray’s final farewell at the Queen’s Club? Only time will tell, as well as whether he will be fit for the Wimbledon Championships, which begin in less than two weeks on July 1.

Korda earns first Top-10 win of 2024 season

Sebastian Korda of the United States reached his fourth quarterfinal of the 2024 season – and the 21st of his career – with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory over No. 3 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, the 2014 Queen’s Club champion, in an hour and 59 minutes on Centre Court.

The No. 23 Korda, who is playing at a career-high ranking, became the first American to reach the Queen’s Club quarterfinals in back-to-back years since Sam Querrey in 2017-18.

Korda, a finalist last week at the Libéma Open in the Netherlands, outpointed Dimitrov 95-90. He hit 26 winners to 31 unforced errors, won 83 percent of his first-serve points and converted three of 14 break points, including the final game of the match. Dimitrov struck 27 winners but committed 32 unforced errors.

“It was a big struggle. We were both serving really well and holding serve, waiting for our chances and there weren’t many,” Korda said in his on-court interview after securing his 21st victory of the season. “But when they came, I tried to take them. 

“It is incredible playing at Queen’s. It’s definitely one of my favorite tournaments.”

Around The Queen’s Club

• Opening Centre Court play on Wednesday, 98th-ranked Australian qualifier Rinky Hijikata pulled out a 7-6 (0), 7-6 (7) second-round victory over No. 35 Matteo Arnaldi of Italy in their second career meeting. Hijikata reached his fourth tour-level quarterfinal – first above ATP 250 level – by winning on his sixth match point after two hours and six minutes.

“I’ve been looking forward to the grass season for the past few months,” Hijikata said in his on-court interview. “I always love playing on this surface and at a tournament like this. I’m looking forwarding to seeing what I can do the rest of the grass season.”

Hijikata hit 20 winners to 38 for Arnaldi, converted two of nine break points, and outpointed his opponent 97-83.

The loss prevented Arnaldi from advancing to his first quarterfinal on grass to complete a set of ATP Tour quarterfinals on all three surfaces.

• Fourth seed Taylor Fritz of the United States, the only seeded player left in bottom half of the draw, advanced to his first quarterfinal in his third appearance in West London. The 12th-ranked American defeated No. 186 Milos Raonic of Canada, 7-6 (5), 6-4, in an hour and 22 minutes.

Fritz hit 24 winners — including 11 aces — to 10 unforced errors and outpointed Raonic 63-61. He came from 3-5 down in the first-set tie-break to pull out the opening set. Then, Fritz broke his opponent at 4-all in the second set and served out the victory.

Raonic, who fired 47 aces in setting an ATP Tour record for most aces in a three-set match on Monday, hit just nine against Fritz.

“The No. 1 goal was to take care of my serve and not get broken,” Fritz said in his on-court interview. “There’s obviously a lot more to do than just that, but that’s the No. 1 thing I had to make sure of.”

• Top-seeded doubles team Rohan Bopanna of India and Matthew Ebden advanced to the quarterfinals over lucky losers Alexander Erler and Lucas Miedler of Austria, 6-4, 6-4. Other seeded teams to advance include: No. 5 seeds Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Nikola Mektic of Croatia; No. 6 seeds Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France; and No. 7 seeds Neal Skupski of Great Britain and Michael Venus of New Zealand.

Wednesday’s cinch Championships results

Thursday’s cinch Championships order of play

By the numbers

Sebastian Korda earned his first Top-10 win of the season (1-8) on Wednesday and become the first American to reach the quarterfinals at Queen’s Club in back-to-back years since Sam Querrey in 2017-18.

“Quotable …”

“Tennis is a relentless sport. There is not much time to, I suppose, sort of celebrate or reflect on achievements or, you know, have a good time.

“You know, I feel immensely proud of last week. … I know all the hard work I have been putting in for many, many months now, and it’s nice that me and my team can celebrate and get a reward for it. …

“To be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I want to keep on progressing, I want to keep on bettering myself and improving, and having the chance to play in these amazing events.

“So, yeah, I will reflect on it at some point, but for now it’s just full focus on being here and hopefully doing well.”

— New British No. 1 Jack Draper, during his pre-tournament news conference, reflecting on winning the BOSS Open title in Stuttgart on Sunday, then competing in West London two days later. He will face World No. 2 and top seed Carlos Alcaraz on Thursday.