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Andy Murray admits early Queen’s Club exit is ‘big blow’ to Wimbledon hopes

The Guardian logo The Guardian 21-06-2017 Kevin Mitchell at Queen's Club
Andy Murray leaves the court at Queen’s Club after losing 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 to Australia’s Jordan Thompson in the first round. © Getty Images Andy Murray leaves the court at Queen’s Club after losing 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 to Australia’s Jordan Thompson in the first round.

Andy Murray, as candid in defeat as he is humble in victory, admitted he has little chance of retaining his Wimbledon title next month, if he plays the way he did in losing to world No90 Jordan Thompson in the first round of the Aegon Championships. The five-times Queen’s Club champion admitted the shock defeat was “a big blow” so close to Wimbledon.

The world No1 said: “This tournament has given me great preparation in the past. When I have done well here, Wimbledon has tended to go pretty well, too. But, if I play like that, I certainly won’t win Wimbledon. I can play better than that.”

The 23-year-old Australian, who has been on the Tour for less than four years, was drafted in as a late lucky loser after Aljaz Bedene withdrew in the morning with an injured wrist and was, Murray conceded, a worthy 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 winner in an hour and 43 minutes. It was arguably Murray’s worst setback on grass since losing to Mardy Fish at Queen’s in 2010.

Defeat has not wrecked Murray’s preparations to begin the defence of his Wimbledon title on Monday week but it has put a totally unexpected hole in them. Murray said he will consider playing in a grass-court exhibition event, either at Boodles or Hurlingham, to get some precious match time.

Murray was calm enough later, although obviously concerned by his early exit. There were no excuses.

“I have had more than enough time to get used to the conditions,” he said. “I have been practising for the last seven, eight days.” He said he was not unsettled by the late change of opponent, having seen Thompson play several times.

Murray had pledged his purse to the Grenfell Tower victims’ appeal but could not have anticipated it being a first-round loser’s cheque for £12,000.

“I would have liked to have done well here for a number of reasons, that being a very good one,” he said. “It’s unfortunate I couldn’t have done better for that reason.”

He bridled at the suggestion he might have been preoccupied by the dreadful events in the UK in recent months. “I don’t think it’s fair to place blame anywhere like that. Obviously it’s been a tough few months but when I’m playing I am just trying to concentrate on my tennis, and when I’m away from the court I’m just trying to spend time with my family and the people that mean a lot or are important to me. I wouldn’t want to place any blame there, that would not be fair.”

There was perhaps some minor comfort for Murray in the woes of other big names. Stan Wawrinka, who beat him in the semi-finals at Roland Garros before losing to Rafael Nadal in the final, also went out in the first round at Queen’s, losing in two sets to the world No32 Feliciano López. In doing so, he bumped Novak Djokovic back up to No2 in the world rankings, thus making the Serb the second seed at Wimbledon. That puts Djokovic at the other end of the draw from Murray, with a final between the pair the potential outcome based on seeding, although Djokovic’s form has been equally erratic.

The third seed Milos Raonic was the first big name to fall at Queen’s on Tuesday – also losing to an Australian outsider, Thanasi Kokkinakis. Returning after 18 months out through injury, Kokkinakis beat Raonic, the runner-up to Murray at Queen’s and Wimbledon last year, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (10-8).

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