Andy Murray stunned by Dimitrov in semis

PRITHA SARKAR
Last updated 07:31 03/07/2014
Novak Djokovic
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Novak Djokovic of Serbia blows kisses to the fans as he celebrates winning the Wimbledon title after beating Roger Federer of Switzerland in the final.
Grigor Dimitrov
Reuters
UPSET CITY: Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov reacts after winning match-point against Andy Murray.

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''Wake up Andy'' - rang out the booming cry of desperation from the crowd.

That plea, and those from 14,999 other centre court fans fell on deaf ears as Andy Murray's 12-month reign as Wimbledon champion was ended by a player who until today had been better known as ''Baby Fed'' or ''Mr Sharapova''.

Grigor Dimitrov stepped out from the shadows of his superstar girlfriend Maria Sharapova as he broke British hearts with a sublime 6-1 7-6(4) 6-2 quarterfinal victory over a rival who had been unbeaten at the All England Club since 2012.

The third seed had confidently marched into the last eight without dropping a set, but his meek abdication early today left the crowd, which included Prince William and his wife the Duchess of Cambridge, stunned into silence.

The Scot, who had sparked wild celebrations around the country a year ago when he became the first home-grown men's champion in 77 years, appeared to sleepwalk through a one-sided first set, raised false hopes of a fightback in the second and was simply outclassed in the third.

''He was the better player from start to finish,'' Murray summed up after Dimitrov ended his 17-match winning steak at the All England Club which included an Olympic gold medal.

Such was the quality of the exquisite winners flying off Dimitrov's racket, Murray might have thought he was on the receiving end of a Roger Federer masterclass.

But whereas Dimitrov once revelled in the comparisons with the seven-times Wimbledon champion, and the ''Baby Fed'' tag, he became his own man today by showcasing a breathtaking arsenal of weapons that left Murray down and out.

NOTHING EXTRAORDINARY

Asked if he was taken aback with the manner of his no-nonsense victory, Dimitrov fired back: ''Why would I have to be surprised? There was nothing extraordinary, if I may say so.''

His excitement at becoming the first Bulgarian man to reach the last four of a grand slam was also rather muted. There were no roars, no falling to the knees, no exaggerated fist pumps in the direction of his coach Roger Rasheed.

He simply tilted his head back and blew a kiss to the heavens above and left a deflated Murray to reflect on a day when nothing went his way.

''Today was a bad day. I made many mistakes, unforced errors, and then started going for too much and taking chances that weren't really there,'' Murray said after failing to reach the last four at Wimbledon for the first time since 2008.

''I think I hit maybe one backhand winner the entire match, which isn't normally what I do, especially on this surface.

''Couldn't seem to get my legs in the right place to hit the right shots.''

The legs certainly appeared to be moving through a vat full of treacle for two agonising hours as a sense of disbelief descended over the All England Club.

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From 1-1 in the first set, the twice grand slam champion lost five games on the trot and his frustrations were compounded as he allowed Dimitrov to string together 13 spell-binding points without even getting a look-in.

When the set was all over in a mere 25 minutes, with Dimitrov swatting away a smash following a 21-stroke rally, the Bulgarian even held up his racket apologetically.

Realising that their man was in trouble, the crowd abandoned usual Wimbledon etiquette and began to wildly applaud Dimitrov's errors in the second set.

Unfortunately for them, and Murray, those errors were few and far between with Dimitrov's only blip in the eighth game when he allowed Murray to break back and level for 4-4.

When Murray surrendered the tiebreak with a lunging effort into the net from a Dimitrov volley, radio silence set in.

Hopes that he could launch a fightback from two sets down - as he did at the same stage 12 months ago against Fernando Verdasco - never looked likely as he dropped his serve with a double fault in the sixth game, after which he faded away.

A day after one excited British observer noted that Murray ''has been playing a little bit like God'', Dimitrov proved that he was a mere mortal.

Asked if his girlfriend, the 2004 champion, had any tips for him going forward, Dimitrov grinned: ''She says 'win it'. I think that's a good tip.''

BRITISH DOWNER

It's not been a good year for British sport. First England exited the World Cup in unseemly haste, and now defending champion Andy Murray has left Wimbledon almost as fast.

Worse, nobody was much surprised. Murray's match lasted just three sets.

The huge video screen watched by thousands at Wimbledon flashed Twitter comments showing local fans and the rest of the world agreed Murray would lose.

''We're huge Murray fans, but he wasn't playing his best,'' Caroline Sugden of Leicester, England, said after the British champ's defeat.

Prince William and and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, watched from the Royal Box on Centre Court, but Sugden and her daughter left their seats on Court No 1 to join the crowd on ''the Hill'', the epicentre of support for British players in the tournament.

''We've sat here many times and watched him, we've eaten Murray Mints and all the rest to help, but at the end of the day I think he was well beaten today,'' Sugden said.

Lee Williams, a DJ from Reading, England, perched on ''the Hill'' with his wife Claire, a pharmacist, noted that the English invented a lot of the sports in which they have suffered recent defeats.

''We had a good couple of years, with the (2012) Olympics, winning gold, and the year after that winning Wimbledon, so we just take off the rest of this year and there'll be next year,'' Williams said.

There was a logic to that. Murray's exit left no British contenders in the final stages of a tournament that was as English as the strawberries and cream and the Pimm's cup aperitif served there in tanker-load quantities.

''It wasn't like we had this big wealth of players and one of them happened to be the winner,'' said Alastair Sewell, who worked in a church in Scotland and had come down for the day.

''We had Murray, who is good, and everyone knows when he's out, Britain's out.''

Which did not come as entirely bad news to two young women seated on a blanket nearby who declined to give their names, but were quick to say - in a low voice - that they preferred Roger Federer to Murray.

''I don't find him exciting as Federer,'' one of them said.

''Like yesterday, when Federer was playing, I was screaming at the screen.''

There may have been a lot more like her in the crowd, ready to switch allegiances to the durable Swiss, a seven-time Wimbledon champ, who was looking in strong form. DJ Williams was among them.

''I'm looking forward to Federer now,'' he said.

''He's like our surrogate son.''

The slope where the crowds assembled to watch the video screen got its original nickname as ''Henman Hill,'' from the years when Tim Henman was Britain's hope at Wimbledon. Then Murray took over, and it was unofficially re-named ''Murray's Mound'' or ''Murray Mount'' - at least until today.

- Reuters

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