LONDON (THE GUARDIAN, AFP) - The end when it came for a hobbling Andy Murray was drawn-out, painful and not entirely unexpected.
His quest for a third Wimbledon title evaporated on Centre Court on Wednesday (July 12) when his aching hip finally gave up on him.
Sam Querrey took full advantage to win their quarter-final 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-1 to become the first American to enter the men's semi-finals since Andy Roddick in 2009.
He will face Marin Cilic, who triumphed 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 7-5, 5-7, 6-1 against Gilles Muller.
"I'm still in a bit of shock. I didn't start my best. I kept swinging away. But everything seemed to be falling my way. It feels great," said Querrey, who reached his first Grand Slam semi-final.
"That last point, I was so happy to get the serve in. I didn't start my best but found my groove in the fourth and five set. I'm going to enjoy this one a little bit and have an easy day tomorrow."
Defending champion Murray moved gingerly in the 2hr 41min it lasted. In the two short closing sets, he was powerless to change the direction or mood of the contest, so hobbled was he by his hip.
He was also bidding to retain his world No. 1 ranking and to join Johanna Konta in the semi-finals. They are the first pair of British players to go this deep here in the Open era in the men's and women's draws.
Now the top spot is up for grabs, and Konta shoulders the nation's hopes alone.
"I think I had chances in the first three sets. The second set, I was up 4-3 and then got broken twice there. That obviously turned out to be an important part of the match," Murray said.
"Sam served extremely well at the end of the match and loosened up and was going for his shots.
"The whole tournament I've been a little bit sore but I tried my best right to the end. I'm proud about that, but I'm sad it's over."
He had said after beating Frenchman Benoit Paire in the fourth round: "If I'm struggling and not moving well, it affects my performance maybe more than other guys who don't rely on their movement as much."
That prognosis told the story of this quarter-final. It was not so much that Querrey played out of his skin, but that Murray was rooted to the turf going sideways, hitting a lot of shots off one leg and serving way below his best.
He fought all the way to the end, as he always does, but there could be no denying that his hip was the problem as much as his tennis.
The sun was shining, but there was a growing sense of gloom in the crowd. Murray did not look at his energetic best.
And the world No. 28 Querrey - who put Novak Djokovic out in the fourth round last year, and this season beat David Goffin, Dominic Thiem, Nick Kyrgios and Rafael Nadal in one magical week in Acapulco - was inclined to hang around.
Querrey unexpectedly reeled off three straight games in the second set, firing 16 winners, twice as many as the top seed.
The Scot then restored his lead after Querrey played a sloppy tie-break in the third set.
However, Murray's afternoon began to unravel as his movement became increasingly limited. Limping badly off his right leg, he was being run ragged and was broken three times in a 22-minute fourth set.
The fifth set also followed a similar plot line, lasting just 27 minutes as Murray won only a solitary point off the American's big serve.
Querrey, one of the most affable and popular players on the Tour, steeled himself for the kill, finishing it with a 190kmh ace beyond Murray's right arm, which hung motionless by his side.
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