Andy Murray has promised to work “harder than ever” after suffering his worst defeat at Wimbledon for eight years. “I need to go away and make a lot of improvements in my game,” Murray said after his 6-1, 7-6, 6-2 mauling by Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals ended the defence of his title. “I need to have a think about what are the things I need to improve and get myself in better shape and work even harder, because everyone’s starting to get better.”
Dimitrov, the world No 13, became the first player ranked outside the top 10 to beat Murray at his home Grand Slam tournament since the Scot lost to Marcos Baghdatis in the fourth round on only his second appearance at the All England Club in 2006. The defeat ended Murray’s run of five successive appearances in the Wimbledon semi-finals and could mean he falls to as low as No 10 in the world rankings next week.
Murray, who had not dropped a set in his first four matches, played poorly throughout as Dimitrov reached his first Grand Slam semi-final. On Friday the 23-year-old Bulgarian will face Novak Djokovic, who beat Marin Cilic in five sets.
The defeat also ended Murray’s 17-match winning streak at the All England Club. During that run he became the first Briton to win an Olympic gold medal in tennis for 104 years and ended the country’s 77-year wait for a Wimbledon men’s singles champion.
Video: Murray crashes out of Wimbledon
At least Murray is in good company after failing to defend his crown here. Since Boris Becker successfully defended his first Wimbledon title 28 years ago, only Pete Sampras and Roger Federer have made winning returns to the All England Club 12 months after their maiden victories. Those who have failed include Stefan Edberg, Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt and Djokovic.
Murray, nevertheless, did not blame the pressure of returning as the defending champion. He said the weight of expectation had been no different to other years. “To be honest, I handled the pressure fine,” he said. “I started the tournament well. I was playing good tennis. Today was a bad day from my side.”
He added: “It’s an incredibly difficult tournament to win. Quite a lot of the players that have won have come back and won the tournament in the future, but to win any tournament back to back, never mind a Grand Slam on a surface like this which sometimes rests on a few points in a set, it’s not always going to go your way. So I would say grass is a tough surface to do it on. But I didn’t feel like that had any bearing on the outcome of my tournament.”
Murray said he would sit down in the next few days with Amélie Mauresmo, his coach, to discuss their future. The Frenchwoman was initially appointed as his coach on a trial basis for the grass-court season. “It has to come from both sides,” Murray said. “I’ve really enjoyed the last couple of weeks. I’ve found it good fun. I found it calming. Tactically, I feel like the chats have been good – and the direction that I would like my tennis to go in.”
Rafael Nadal said after his defeat on Tuesday that he was looking forward to spending time on the beach. Murray said he would take a few days off but needed to get back on the practice court soon. “There’s time before the next bunch of tournaments to do that, to make improvements,” he said. “It’s not often in the year you get that much time.’
Asked if it was any comfort to know that he had one Wimbledon title in the bag, Murray said: “I still want to try to win more. I don’t want to think so much about that right now. I need to think forward and not backwards, and get motivation from somewhere to try to get back to the top of my game.”
Federer, who is attempting to become the first man ever to win eight Wimbledon singles titles, beat Stan Wawrinka, his friend and fellow Swiss, to reach the semi-finals. Federer won 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 and now plays Milos Raonic, who beat Nick Kyrgios.
In the women’s tournament Romania’s Simona Halep and Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard both won to set up a semi-final meeting this afternoon. Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova, meet in the other semi-final.