Andy Murray’s wild journey ends with thumping from Denis Shapovalov | Wimbledon

The past five days at Wimbledon have been a wild, joyous and timely reminder of the meaning of Andy Murray , both to his long-suffering f...


The past five days at Wimbledon have been a wild, joyous and timely reminder of the meaning of Andy Murray, both to his long-suffering fans and to the player himself who has toiled so hard without experiencing joyful moments on the court for so long. But everything eventually ends and on Friday night, Murray’s unexpected journey at this year’s Wimbledon came to a logical close as he was comprehensively beaten 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 by Denis Shapovalov, the 10th seed, in the third round.

Unlike the raucous evenings on Centre Court earlier in the week, this time Murray was subdued and unable to summon anything close to a sufficient level of play required to properly compete and he was outclassed by a top player with everything to prove on one of the bigger stages of his career. The eight games Murray managed to win marks his worst defeat after 16 years of competing at Wimbledon.

Still, after years of constant questions and criticism about his continued presence in the game, the wildcards he has taken and his perceived delusion that he could possibly make any kind of career out of the rest of his time as a professional, Murray will leave Wimbledon this year vindicated in his efforts over the past four years and emboldened to aim for more.

Despite the nine tense sets of tennis in Murray’s underused legs, problematic groin and metal hip, any uncertainty about his physical condition was calmed early on as his body seemed to have rebounded well from the heaviest load it has been under in four years. He moved sharply in the opening exchanges, retrieving Shapovalov’s early blows and even slipping in a smooth backhand slice passing shot winner during his opening return game.

The first 20 minutes, however, demonstrated the clearest obstacle before Murray – the quality of opposition across the net. While his victories over Nikoloz Basilashvili, the 24th seed, and qualifier Oscar Otte were thrilling, positive steps in their own right, Shapovalov is simply a far better tennis player than Murray’s other two opponents at Wimbledon.

Denis Shapovalov demonstrated his all-court game and excellent athleticism in his straight sets victory over Andy Murray.
Denis Shapovalov demonstrated his all-court game and excellent athleticism in his straight sets victory over Andy Murray. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

There is a good reason why hype has surrounded Shapovalov since his emergence on the ATP. He is a languid, explosive ballstriker with an instinctive all-court game and excellent athleticism despite not yet demonstrating the patience or mental fortitude to match his considerable physical talents. This was also an enormous moment for him – his Centre Court debut against a hometown legend – having never previously passed the second round of Wimbledon.

Shapovalov demonstrated the difference in quality immediately, breaking serve for a 2-1 lead with a brilliantly constructed point on his first break point. He patiently prodded the Murray defence before unloading on a supreme angled backhand winner. It would set the tone for the rest of the match as Shapovalov overwhelmed an unsettled Murray with his consistent pace and depth of shot, constantly unloading on his backhand.

Murray found his way into the match by going back to basics. Down 2-5, he pieced together a strong return game filled with consistently deep returns and between 1-5, 30-30 and 4-5, Murray won 11 points in a row as he narrowed the deficit to one break of serve. He fought back all the way to break point, asking Shapovalov if he had the wherewithal to close out the set. He did. Shapovalov saved the first with a winning overhead, the second with a spectacular drop volley and he eventually held to take the first set in style.

The resurgence late in the first set did not last particularly long. A steady variety of unforced errors returned to Murray’s game immediately as he struggled from his opening service game. Murray dropped his opening service game to 15 with a double fault, which turned out to be only the third worst ending to a game in that set. On the final point of both games at 0-2 and 0-3, Shapovalov fell to the ground in both points and both times Murray responded by dumpling a drop shot into the net. He swiftly moved up two sets.

After the first two sets, the roof was erected due to bad light, an event that has previously sparked a fightback from Murray. But there was to be none this time as he continued to haemorrhage unforced errors and games alike. Shapovalov soon closed out a clean, focused performance with clean and nerveless hold.

Although it was at times difficult to watch and a dispiriting way to depart, with so few matches under his belt, Murray was able to beat a top 30 player and win multiple rounds over best of five sets. His next steps are quite clear and remain identical to how he started the event. He must hope that this Wimbledon is the beginning and that he will finally be physically capable of stringing together tournaments and building his level. Time will tell.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Andy Murray’s wild journey ends with thumping from Denis Shapovalov | Wimbledon
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