Andy Murray caught in controversial ball boy incident at Wimbledon

Andy Murray, pictured here in action at Wimbledon.
Andy Murray was lucky the ball boy incident didn't cost him. Image: BBC/Getty

Andy Murray was at the centre of a rules controversy at Wimbledon on Wednesday when a ball boy nearly cost him on set point.

Murray was up 6-3 in the third-set tiebreak against John Isner when the big-hitting American hit a backhand return that looked destined to go out.

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Murray began celebrating before the ball even landed and jogged to his court-side chair as the home crowd rose to its feet to cheer on the Scottish former champion.

But what Murray might not have seen was that a ball boy actually caught the ball out of the air before it hit the ground.

There was no doubt that the ball would have been out, but under tennis rules the point should have been called a 'let' and the point replayed.

Inexplicably, the chair umpire awarded the point and ultimately the set to Murray, while Isner was happy to concede it as well.

The International Tennis Federation rules state: "If the ball in play touches a permanent fixture before it hits the ground, the player who hit the ball loses the point".

But given that a ball boy is not considered a "permanent fixture", most pundits said the point should have been replayed.

The ball boy, pictured here catching the ball before it bounced during Andy Murray's clash with John Isner.
The ball boy caught the ball before it bounced during Andy Murray's clash with John Isner. Image: BBC

“I think they should replay that final point because the ball never bounced," BBC commentator Andrew Castle said.

"The ball boy caught the ball, took a very good catch, but..."

Co-commentator Tim Henman added: “In normal circumstances the ball should have hit the ground but we all knew it was going wide.”

While Isner didn't take issue with the rules breach, it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if the score was a little closer at the time.

Andy Murray suffers earliest exit at Wimbledon ever

Murray finally succumbed to Isner's immense serving power under the centre court roof, going down 6-4 7-6 (4) 6-7 (3) 6-4 after being buried by an avalanche of 36 aces.

Isner said he might have produced his greatest performance at SW19 to spoil the 'home favourite with metal hip wins Wimbledon' storyline after nearly three-and-a-half hours.

"It is no secret I am not a better player than Andy Murray - I may have just been a little better than him today. It was an incredible honour to play him," said Isner, who finally beat him at the ninth attempt.

"I need to relish these moments, this was one of the biggest wins of my career. To play as well as I did against one of the greatest players ever is a huge accomplishment for me.

"He is a massive inspiration for us in the locker room and we are lucky to still have him around. I had an incredible serving day - and I needed every bit of it to beat him."

Andy Murray and John Isner, pictured here shaking hands after their clash at Wimbledon.
Andy Murray and John Isner shake hands after their clash at Wimbledon. (Photo by Shi Tang/Getty Images)

Isner even put the win ahead of his epic 11-hour, five-set win over Nicolas Mahut in 2010.

The loss marked Murray's earliest exit at Wimbledon ever, which was previously the third round.

Now ranked World No.52, the two-time Wimbledon champion failed to break Isner's serve once.

"He didn't give me lots of chances," said former World No.1 Murray.

"My game was in a good place. I felt good on the court, just couldn't get the win."

with agencies

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