Warming up for Wimbledon came crashing to a halt for Andy Murray as the number one ranked British tennis star was defeated at the Aegon Championships Jordan Thompson in the first round.
Top-ranked Andy Murray headed a list of high-profile departures in the first round at Queen’s on Tuesday, with the Wimbledon champion losing to a player who found out he was competing only on the morning of the match.
Murray put in a sloppy and error-prone display in losing to 90th-ranked Jordan Thompson 7-6 (4), 6-2, joining Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic in getting eliminated on a day of shocks at the Wimbledon warmup event. They were the top three seeds.
Thompson, who lost in the final round of qualifying on Sunday, stepped up to play Murray following the withdrawal early Tuesday of Aljaz Bedene because of a wrist injury. Thompson played the match of his life – but was given a helping hand by the erratic Murray, the defending and five-time champion in west London.
The Australian sealed victory with an ace down the middle.
“Definitely the biggest win of my career,” Thompson said. “I took each point at a time. I definitely didn’t expect to be winning here in straight sets. I just wanted to enjoy myself.”
“Yesterday, I was sitting around, hoping to be able to get a game,” he added, “but there weren’t too many matches yesterday. I was always coming in, trying to sign in, and here I am in the draw. I’m so lucky.”
It is a blow to Murray’s preparation for Wimbledon, which starts on July 3.
Murray, a record five-time champion at Queen’s, must now recover confidence and rhythm if he is to avoid a similarly disappointing defence of his Wimbledon crown in two week’s time.
This was the world number one’s ninth defeat already in 2017 and sixth against an opponent ranked outside the top 20.
It is his second worst result by ranking since he lost to world number 92 Guillermo Garcia Lopez at Indian Wells in March 2012.
There were signs of a return to form when Murray reached the semi-finals at the French Open earlier this month but this represents a significant step back, his serve again unreliable and forehand particularly wayward.
Thompson had lost in the second round of qualifying on Sunday to Frenchman Jeremy Chardy but he was thrust back into the main draw after Bedene, the British number four, pulled out with a wrist problem on Tuesday morning.
For all Murray’s inadequacies, the Australian 23-year-old played brilliantly, dictating the points with his rasping forehand and showing an aggressive approach that his more established opponent was simply unable to match.
Thompson had beaten David Ferrer in Brisbane in January and world number 15 Jack Sock in the Davis Cup in April, but this was his first Tour win against a player in the top 20 and by the far the biggest of his career.
He set the tone early on when Murray had to save two break points in his opening service game, and while the Briton changed his racket he could never really turn the tide.
Into the first-set tie-break and Murray double-faulted to hand back a mini-break before a missed volley helped Thompson move 6-3 clear.
Murray saved one set point but not the next as another backhand volley dropped into the bottom of the net and the underdog took the frame.
The second set grew even worse for Murray, whose backhand lob – usually a trademark shot – dropped long to give Thompson the break and a 3-2 lead.
The two-time Wimbledon champion has proven himself one of the greatest scrappers but even he could not escape this time as a forehand blown wide conceded a second break, and Thompson duly served out after an hour and 43 minutes.
The second-seeded Wawrinka was beaten by big-serving Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (5), 7-5, with the Spanish player sealing victory off a net cord from a sliced backhand return.
Wawrinka, the runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the French Open, appeared to be struggling with a left knee injury in the second set.
While Wawrinka’s exit wasn’t too much of a surprise, given Lopez’s recent form and liking for grass, the early departure of third-seeded Raonic in the first match on Centre Court certainly was.
Last year’s runner-up at Queen’s and Wimbledon – both times to Murray – lost 7-6 (5), 7-6 (8) to No. 698-ranked Thanasi Kokkinakis, who was playing only his sixth singles since November 2015 because of injury problems.
It was the first win over a top-10 opponent for the Australian, who trailed 6-3 in the second-set tiebreaker but won on his third match point with a backhand winner into the corner.
“It’s a big frustration,” said Raonic, who failed to convert any of his nine break-point opportunities. “Obviously it would have been a lot easier scheduling everything if I was to be here and have many more matches ahead of me.”
Kokkinakis played only one match in 2016 because of a shoulder problem, and missed most of this year because of an abdominal injury. He returned to action in May and played three events before Queen’s, with his ranking as low as No. 993 only last week.
“It’s everything. It’s huge for me,” Kokkinakis said. “I’ve been out for so long.”
French player Julien Benneteau advanced to the last 16 by beating Britain’s James Ward 6-2, 6-2.
Roger Federer added another milestone to his historic career on Tuesday, celebrating his 1,100th match win to start his Gerry Weber Open campaign in Halle. The eight-time champion breezed past lucky loser Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-3, 6-1 in 52 minutes to move into the second round at the ATP World Tour 500 event.
The 35-year-old Federer rebounded nicely from his early exit last week at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart. Federer led by a set and a break and had a match point against longtime friend Tommy Haas but fell to the German 2-6, 7-6(8), 6-4.
Against Sugita, Federer started smoothly and stayed aggressive. He hit his fourth ace to claim the opener in only 21 minutes. For the match, Federer won 90 per cent of his first-serve points (26/29).
The top seed improved to 20-2 on the season. He will next face the serve-and-volleying Mischa Zverev, who dismissed Slovakian qualifier Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-4.
Zverev’s younger brother, #NextGenATP German Alexander Zverev, also cruised in his Halle opener. The World No. 12 saved all three break points faced and needed only 59 minutes to beat Italian Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 6-2. Zverev reached the semi-finals at the Ricoh Open last week before losing to eventual titlist Gilles Muller.
Zverev will meet compatriot Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round. The 33-year-old Kohlschreiber leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-0.