By Paul Lagan on Centre Court, Wimbledon
Andy Murray v John Isner
4-6, 6-7, 7-6, 4-6
Andy Murray crashed out of Wimbledon in the second round losing to American John Isner in a pulsating four setter on the Centre Court tonight which lasted three hours and 23 minutes.
The Scot had one objective and that was to break the big-server at least once in a set or take it to the tie-break and hope for the best.
He couldn’t do it in the first set, couldn’t do it in the second, but took it to a tie-break, but lost it, couldn’t do it in the third, but this time, won the tie break. He failed to do it in the fourth, losing his own once.
it was enough and Murray follows Emma Raducanu out of SW19.
Unlike the girl from Bromley who will be back next year and a few after that, this could well be the end of Murray at the Championships.
A prime Murray would have managed to get to Isner’s serve. The American who has now hit 90 aces, more than double the next player Jim Vesely needed to just play his normal game.
That would not have beaten Murray in the past, but it was sufficient this time out.
Murray had never lost to Isner in eight attempts. But that was way before Murray had hip surgery and bits of metal inserted inside his leg.
The need to outrun and close down the serve which even on second serve was close to 120Mph was essential.
In the first set, Murray simply could not do it and Isner ran out 6-4 winner.
The second echoed the first, with Murray playing catch-up when it came to returning shots.
Isner seeded 20, is not the most mobile but his power play more than made up for it.
As the second set progressed, Murray smelt a chance of a break at 3-4 on Isner’s serve. But nothing ultimately came of it and the game went with serve.
Soon it was 5-5.
An excellent service game win to 15 by Murray saw Isner needing to hold his serve to take the set to a tie-break.
Murray lost his serve handing the initiative to Isner, but in the third point the American hit the ball long.
Murray had his chance to get a mini-break back at 4-2 but smacked the ball into the net.
He won both his serves to leave Isner serving at 5-4. It was soon 6-4 and Murray facing a lost set.
The third set followed serve with neither player looking particularly threatened – Isner’s potent strikes still biting hard – cutting deep into Murray’s resolve.
With the Scot playing catch-up, any mistake by Murray could prove fatal.
Murray was now encouraging the crowd to shout for him, and at 3-3 he hoped it would have an affect on Isner – it didn’t and he won it easily.
At 4-5 Murray was serving to stay in the tournament.
He responded superbly taking the game to love.
Murray produced a game to love himself, with the added delight of a crisp, backward-spinning drop shot.
It took the game to another tie-breaker, one Murray had to win.
A brilliant return set Murray up for a mini-break, but could he take advantage?
He managed to hold both his serves to make it 3-0.
Isner responded with serve and volley winner and an ace to make it 3-2 to Murray.
Would a change of ends at 4-2 make a difference to either player?
Murray won again to make it 5-2. Another serve and volley winner by Isner made it 5-3, but then Isner choked, hitting the ball into the net, giving Murray the point and set point, which he won, much to the delight of the crowd.
Murray took the first game of the fourth set.
Games continued with serve with Murray’s variety of shot the more appealing. But Isner’s metronomic powerhouse serving, while not for the purists, certainly was effective.
Suddenly at 2-2, Murray found himself at a point from being broken, but his indomitable spirit rose to the occasion and he forced the game back to deuce.
He then smacked a simple volley into the net to set Isner up again. And a fine return of serve by the American saw Murray crash his shot into the net to give Isner the break to make it 3-2.
Isner, unbroken all match, didn’t look like giving that record away as he raced to a 4-2 lead with the light turning slowing into night.
Murray complained that he couldn’t see the ball as it wizzed past him for yet another ace.
With the game won making it 4-2 to Isner, the roof was finally closed and the lights on.
Play resumed directly and Murray served to keep a foothold in the match.
And he did, wining it to,15 with some fierce first serves which suggested a renewed sense of energy.
How would Isner, who hadn’t lost his serve all match make of it?
At love 30, Isner responded with three aces, Murray could do nothing.
Provided his first serve was in, it was almost a certain point.
Isner duly won the game taking the match to 5-3 meaning Murray had to win his serve to stay in the tournament.
A delicate drop shot by Isner secured his first point. A long return made it 15 all.
A wide return by Isner gave Murray 30 15, while another sensational drop shot by the Scot made it 40-15.
A double fault brought it to 40 30. A miss-hit long return gave Murray the game.
And so it came down to what could be the final game.
Murray had to do something he hadn’t done at all – break Isner’s serve.
Would Isner finally crack?
A long return from a Isner second serve gave the USA man the first point, an ace made it 30 love, another ace set up three match points.
The crowd by now excited were resigned to overseeing Murray exit Wimbledon.
And so it proved.
Top picture Andy Murray v John Isner Picture: Paul Lagan
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.