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American Querrey stuns defending Wimbledon champion Murray

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LONDON — Limping between points and fading down the stretch, defending champion Andy Murray was stunned by 24th-seeded Sam Querrey of the U.S. 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-1 in the Wimbledon quarterfinals Wednesday.

The No. 1-seeded Murray came into the tournament dealing with a sore left hip and it clearly impeded him at Centre Court. He grimaced as he stumbled or landed awkwardly while attempting shots.

Querrey took full advantage to reach the first Grand Slam semifinal of his career – and the first for any American man anywhere since Andy Roddick was the runner-up at Wimbledon in 2009.

“I am still in a little bit of shock myself,” Querrey said.

Murray is normally a terrific returner, but Querrey hit 27 aces, including on six of the last nine points he served to finish with a flourish. Querrey was impeccable for portions of the match, finishing with 70 winners and only 30 unforced errors.

From 1-all in the fourth, Querrey grabbed eight games in a row to take that set and lead 3-0 in the last.

“I didn’t start my best, but I just kept with it. Kept swinging away and then really found a groove in the fourth and fifth set,” Querrey said. “And everything kind of seemed to be falling my way then.”

It is the second year in a row that the 29-year-old Californian upset the defending champion and top-seeded man at the All England Club. In 2016, he beat Novak Djokovic in the third round en route to the only major quarterfinal of Querrey’s career before Wednesday.

That snapped Djokovic’s 30-match winning streak at the majors. Murray didn’t have that sort of recent dominance, but he is a three-time major champion and had been to at least the semifinals at the All England Club in seven of the past eight years.

The hip, though, was a problem. Murray had to skip some practice sessions and pull out of a couple of planned exhibition matches in the leadup to Wimbledon. Even though he kept insisting once the tournament began that he was OK, he was not nearly capable of his best on this afternoon.

Murray’s serve speeds slowed, and his backhand, in particular, didn’t have its usual verve, either. One key to his success is his court coverage, which allows him to play defense as well as anyone. That was not the case in the latter stages against Querrey.

In Friday’s semifinals, Querrey will face either 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic or 16th-seeded Gilles Muller, who beat Rafael Nadal in the fourth round.

The other quarterfinals, scheduled for later Wednesday are Roger Federer vs. Milos Raonic and Novak Djokovic vs. Tomas Berdych.

Querrey is the lowest-ranked player to ever beat two-time Wimbledon champion Murray in his 12 appearances at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament.

For Murray, this was the fourth five-set match he’s lost in a row. Querrey is headed in the opposite direction: Merely 4-10 in fifth sets for his career until last week, he has won each of his last three matches by going the distance: against 12th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round, Kevin Anderson in the fourth, and now Murray.

Querrey always has had an intimidating serve, but he’s never managed to put together his overall game for enough matches to play on the final weekend at a major.

Indeed, until last year’s win over Djokovic, he might have been best known for some of his unusual off-court episodes. In Thailand for a 2009 tournament, he cut two muscles in his right arm when he sat on a glass table that shattered. Two years ago, he appeared on the reality TV show “The Millionaire Matchmaker.” There’s a popular video clip on social media of Querrey – sunglasses and hat on, shirt unbuttoned – dancing with friends wearing horse-head masks.

Now Querrey’s on-court accomplishment Wednesday will make headlines. Win two more matches, and he’ll be the Wimbledon champion.

 

Tsonga levels for France in Davis Cup final against Belgium

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LILLE, France (AP) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga swept past Steve Darcis 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 to put France level with Belgium on the opening day of the Davis Cup final on Friday.

Tsonga’s comfortable win over the 76th-ranked Darcis evened the tie at 1-1 ahead after Belgium’s top player David Goffin had dispatched Lucas Pouille in straight sets.

Tsonga missed several chances to move ahead early in the first set but finally broke for a 5-3 lead with a deep forehand attack on his fourth break point. The Frenchman then claimed five consecutive games and served out the second set at love with a drop shot that hit the net cord and dribbled over for a winner.

Tsonga continued to play consistent and occasionally brilliant tennis in the third, including a series of reflex volleys.

Dimitrov defeats Goffin to win ATP Finals title

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LONDON — Grigor Dimitrov claimed the biggest title of his career at the season-ending ATP Finals on Sunday, prevailing on his fifth match point to beat David Goffin of Belgium 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

“It’s such an honor to play here,” Dimitrov said. “This week has been one of the best I’ve ever had.”

The sixth-seeded Bulgarian won in 2 hours, 30 minutes, 15 seconds for the longest final since the tournament returned to a three-set format in 2008.

Dimitrov won all five of his matches at the O2 Arena to become the first player to win the elite tournament on debut since 1998, when Alex Corretja of Spain triumphed in Hanover.

Goffin saved three match points on his own serve, but Dimitrov kept his cool, taking the second opportunity on his own delivery to close it out.

By reaching the final, Dimitrov had already secured a career-high No. 3-ranking to end the year. Goffin also moves up to a career-best No. 7.

The final lasted more than 11 minutes longer than Roger Federer took to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2011. It was a nervous start as both players failed to hold serve in the opening three games before Goffin settled down to control the opener as Dimitrov struggled with his timing.

However, Dimitrov fought his way back into the set. He leveled in the eighth game before breaking once more in the 12th to snatch the set in which Goffin hit eight more winners.

Dimitrov’s confidence carried into the second set, where he brought up the first break point in the sixth game, only for Goffin to produce a stunning cross-court backhand winner to save it. The momentum back with him, Goffin broke the following game for a 4-3 lead and calmly closed out the set.

Having come from behind to beat Federer in Saturday’s semifinal, Goffin had every reason to be confident and could have gone ahead. But he wasted four break points in the opening game – they would turn out to be his only chances in the decider.

Dimitrov was more clinical, striking in the sixth game to take control. Goffin tested Dimitrov’s nerve by saving three match points on his own serve, before saving one on Dimitrov’s. However the Belgian’s resistance came to an end as he netted a backhand volley, leaving Dimitrov in tears.

(This story has been corrected to show it was the longest three-set final since the tournament returned to a three-set format in 2008, not longest three-set final ever.)