|Venue: All England Club Dates: 3-16 July
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Andy Murray’s hopes of a fine Wimbledon victory on the 10th anniversary of his 2013 title win were ended by fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in round two.
Stalled by Wimbledon’s 11pm curfew on Thursday, the Briton lost 7-6 (7-3) 6-7 (2-7) 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 on Friday.
Murray had not beaten a SW19 opponent ranked as high as the Greek since his iconic win over Novak Djokovic in 2013.
Shortly before Murray’s loss, British number one Cameron Norrie fell 3-6 6-3 2-6 6-7 (3-7) to Christopher Eubanks.
Murray, 36, and Norrie, 27, were considered the nation’s best hopes of success in the men’s singles and their defeats dampened the spirits of the home fans at the All England Club.
Their exits leave British number five Liam Broady, who is playing Canadian 26th seed Denis Shapovalov in the third round, as the sole home representative in the men’s singles.
On Saturday, British women’s number one Katie Boulter also has the chance to reach the fourth round when she plays defending champion Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan.
Murray pushes one of the best but falls agonisingly short
Murray is a two-time champion at Wimbledon, having also won in 2016, and had talked positively about his chances of going deep in the draw this fortnight.
A poor performance at Queen’s in the build-up to the tournament saw him miss out on a seeding, leaving him vulnerable to a tough test early on.
Even after the draw threw up the possibility of facing 24-year-old Tsitsipas, Murray insisted he had the ability and nous to cause anybody problems on the SW19 grass.
Against one of the top players in the men’s game, he proved correct.
On Thursday, Murray grew into a contest played indoors under the floodlights and moved ahead just before the match was halted at 22:39 BST.
Unlike the other Grand Slams, Wimbledon has a 23:00 curfew which has been imposed by the local council.
The end of the set felt like the natural moment to pause, coming at a time which seemed to suit both players.
When they returned, now playing outdoors on a hot summer afternoon, the pair continued to dominate on serve and there was a sense of inevitability that the fourth set would head to a tie-break.
Tsitsipas played superbly to level and, underneath bright skies, the mood further darkened among the home fans at the start of the decider.
Murray’s serve came under severe pressure in the third game. A slice from the Scot into the net was followed by a beautifully-judged lob from Tsitsipas, before a double fault created three break points.
Murray was able to save two of them, but a forehand into the net handed over an advantage from which he could not recover.
The level Tsitsipas was forced to find in order to advance – and register by far his best win of the grass-court season on a tricky surface – was testament to Murray’s challenge.
Murray waved goodbye as he received a standing ovation from Centre Court and, though he knows there will not be many opportunities to play there again in the future, he showed he is far from done..
Overnight break ‘didn’t help’ Tsitsipas
Who the break benefitted – Murray after a painful looking fall, or Tsitsipas after momentum swung away from him – was debatable.
The delay did provide the opportunity for the romantics to dream.
Murray returned on Friday aiming to earn his biggest win by ranking since the 2013 final, 10 years to the day and at the scene of the defining moment of his career.
The realists felt the rest might suit Tsitsipas better – and were vindicated.
The 2021 French Open finalist and 2023 Australian Open runner-up produced another serving masterclass, like he did in the first two sets on Thursday, and did not face a break point as he turned around the deficit.
Asked if the 18-hour gap benefitted him, Tsitsipas said: “It did not help me that much. You are dealing with a lot of things.
“You are dealing with Andy Murray at the other side of the net. He can make it a marathon and I had to work extra hard.
“My legs are sore – he made me run left and right, up and down for how many hours.”