Andy Murray’s defence of his Wimbledon crown is over after he was beaten in straight sets by Grigor Dimitrov.
The Scot had not lost a single set in this year’s tournament, but was seen cursing as he plummeted out at the quarter-final stage in undignified fashion.
With the pressure off, having ended Britain’s woeful record of 37 years without a trophy in SW19 (Virginia Wade was the last Brit to be victorious there), Murray looked to be enjoying his game more than ever as he cruised through the early rounds.
However, he will have enjoyed little about his contest with the brilliant Bulgarian and close personal friend Dimitrov, who was contrastingly overjoyed to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final.
In the absence of his avid supporter, Sir Alex Ferguson, who was surprisingly not in attendance, Murray toiled. He had admittedly not been tipped to retain his title, particularly once he was beaten in straight sets by one-time nemesis Rafael Nadal in the French Open in early June.
Rather, world number-one Novak Djokovic remains on course to satisfy the bookmakers with another expected triumph. Djokovic did not make light work of beating Marin Cilic, though, and came close to suffering the same kind of giant-culling that has already got the better of Nadal, Murray and Maria Sharapova.
Cilic took the first two sets, but was then pegged back; once Djokovic had settled, he ended up playing some beautiful tennis and rarely broke his serve to allow Cilic back into the game. The Croat will be heartened at having forced the game to the final set, but by then the momentum was with last year’s runner-up.
Djokovic will play Dimitrov in the first semi-final, while Roger Federer and Milos Raonic will contest the other.
Federer beat Stanislas Wawrinka, who was struggling with bouts of sickness, but was also forced to come from behind. Though the two were evenly matched for much of the game, glimpses of Federer’s magic shone through, and would eventually be the deciding factor as he won by two sets to one. Warwinka will undoubtedly be delighted with his progress nonetheless, as this was the first time he has made it past the last 16 of the competition, and exited in the first round in each of the last two years.
Raonic, meanwhile, made the last four with victory over the hugely popular Nick Kyrgios, the Australian teenager who sealed Nadal’s exit. The All England Club were raucously behind the youngster, but Raonic’s quality could not be contained.
The semi-finals will take place on Friday.