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Murray pain as loss dents Wimbledon preparations

 

By Tom Allnutt

Andy Murray admits his Wimbledon chances suffered a heavy blow after the World No.1 lost to lucky loser Jordan Thompson in the first round of the Aegon Championships.

But Murray is adamant he still can turn his stuttering form around at the All England Club, where his bid to win a fourth Grand Slam title begins in less than a fortnight's time.

Thompson, ranked 90th in the world, was only entered into the main draw at Queen's four hours before, after Aljaz Bedene withdrew injured, but the Australian played the match of his life to win 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.

The defeat is Murray's ninth already in 2017, and sixth against a player rated outside the top 20. It is the Scot's second worst result by ranking since March 2012.

More concerning for Murray is not only the continuation of his poor form, but the fact he has lost potentially a week's worth of competitive matches on grass, with Wimbledon fast approaching.

It is perhaps no coincidence that both his Wimbledon triumphs in 2013 and 2016 came after he also won the title at Queen's.

"It's a big blow, for sure," Murray said.

"Obviously this tournament has given me great preparation in the past and when I have done well here, Wimbledon has tended to go pretty well too.

"It's not ideal, but guys have in the past also gone in to Wimbledon having not won lots of matches.

"Novak (Djokovic) a number of times hasn't played any warm-up tournaments and played very well there. There is no guarantees that I won't do well at Wimbledon but it would have helped to have had more matches."

Murray, however, can draw encouragement from his last first round exit at Queen's in 2012, when he went on to reach the Wimbledon final, while Djokovic has regularly warmed up for SW19 by attending only exhibition matches the week before.

The British No.1 said he might yet explore the option of exhibition events next week, but insists there is no reason to panic.

"I do think that a lot can change in a short period of time. Everything was a lot better in practice. Today's match was not good but I was much better in practice," Murray said.

"If I play like that I certainly won't win Wimbledon, but I can play better than that."

Thompson had lost to Frenchman Jeremy Chardy on Sunday in the second round of qualifying but was handed a lifeline after Bedene pulled out with a wrist injury.

Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka both made losing starts to their grass-court seasons by crashing out in the first round at Queen's.

Wawrinka, who reached the French Open final earlier this month but lost to Rafael Nadal, was beaten 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 by Feliciano Lopez after Raonic endured a 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (10-8) defeat to Australian wild card Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Johanna Konta's competitive instincts helped her overcome a second-set wobble in her opening-round clash against Lesia Tsurenko at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham.

The British No.1 had little time to adjust to the courts at the Edgbaston Priory Club after reaching the final of the Nottingham Open on Sunday.

There she suffered a shock loss to Donna Vekic, and the World No.7 was in trouble again when she trailed 5-2 against Ukraine's Tsurenko in the second set.

But Konta managed to win three games in a row, and then took her third match point in the tie-break to win 6-3 7-6 (8-6).

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