LONDON • Andy Murray admitted he has little chance of retaining his Wimbledon title next month, if he plays the way he did in losing to world No. 90 Jordan Thompson in the first round of the Queen's Club Championships .
The five-time tournament winner admitted the shock 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 defeat was "a big blow" so close to Wimbledon.
The world No. 1 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."
Thompson, who has been on the Tour for less than four years and had never won a Tour-level grass-court match before Tuesday, was drafted in as a late lucky loser after Aljaz Bedene withdrew in the morning with an injured wrist.
Murray conceded that the the 23-year-old Australian was a worthy winner in an hour and 43 minutes. It was arguably one of the most embarrassing defeats of his career and worst setback on grass since losing to Mardy Fish at the same event in 2010.
He will now consider playing in a grass-court exhibition event, either at Boodles or Hurlingham, to get some precious match time ahead of Wimbledon.
"I have had more than enough time to get used to the conditions," said the Scot, who 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 (S$21,000).
"I have been practising for the last seven, eight days."
There was perhaps some minor comfort for Murray in the woes of other big names.
Swiss Stan Wawrinka also went out in the first round at Queen's, losing in straight sets to Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.
Djokovic's form has been equally erratic, and such is the Serb's desire to rediscover some form before heading for the All England club that he has broken with tradition and taken a wildcard into the Aegon International at Eastbourne next week.
Djokovic has not played a grasscourt warmup tournament ahead of Wimbledon since 2010.
Since then he has triumphed three times at the All England Club.
"This will be my first trip to Eastbourne, I have heard great things about the tournament," Djokovic, who will be the tournament's top seed, said in a statement yesterday.
"I am looking forward to fine-tuning my grass-court game there ahead of Wimbledon."
The seeds continued to fall at Queen's yesterday, with 2011 finalist and fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France sent packing 6-4, 6-4 in 69 minutes by Luxembourg's Gilles Muller.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS