Murray was well beaten 7-6, 6-2 by Jordan Thompson, the world No 90 from Australia. It means that the Scot will now go to Wimbledon to begin the defence of his title there having played only one competitive grass court match.
He has lost his opening match before at Queen’s – in 2006 and 2012 – and five years ago he did go on to reach the Wimbledon final. But the two times Murray has triumphed in SW19, he has gone there riding a wave of confidence having lifted the huge Queen’s Club trophy in the build-up.
“It’s a big blow, for sure. 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,” Murray said.
“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. And, yeah, hopefully I get enough time on the court these next couple of weeks and work on some things, because I’m going to need to. If I play like that, I certainly won’t win Wimbledon. But I can play better than that.”
Murray’s year has stuttered and spluttered since the start of January and every promising improvement seems to have been met with a swift disappointment. Reaching the semi-finals of the French Open less than two weeks ago gave cause for optimism. That was dashed with yesterday’s defeat.
“I said before this tournament there was still a lot of work to be done,” he said. “After the French Open, I knew that I was still quite far from where I needed to be. So that’s why I got back on the practice court quite soon afterwards, but I was certainly feeling better in the build-up here than I was going into the French. I certainly would have expected to have played and done a bit better.”
Murray will sit down with his team and try to formulate a plan of action. There are plenty of exhibition events scattered around London and the Home Counties and they will be falling over themselves to try to attract his attention. But exhibition matches bear no resemblance to match play – and Murray needs to sharpen every weapon in his armoury to be ready for Wimbledon.
“I haven’t been in this position loads,” he said. “Over the years it’s happened a couple of times, but I will speak to the team, see what I do. It’s not ideal obviously, 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 are no guarantees that I won’t do well at Wimbledon, but it certainly would have helped to have had more matches. That’s always been the case for me. At this event when I’ve got matches, it’s certainly helped at Wimbledon.”