Andy Murray’s reign as Wimbledon champion ended Wednesday with a straight-set loss in the quarterfinals to Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, who is making his breakthrough after years of being touted as the game’s next top player.
Two other former champions, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, came from behind to win in four sets and move into the semifinals once again at the All England Club.
In women’s play, French Open runner-up Simona Halep and Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard advanced to the semifinals in straight sets.
Dimitrov completely outplayed Murray on Centre Court, winning 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-2 to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.
The 11th-seeded Dimitrov broke Murray five times – including in the final game – to become the first Bulgarian man to advance to the final four of a major. It was his first victory over a top 10 player at a Grand Slam.
“He was the better player start to finish,” Murray said.
Murray last year became the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years. He came into the quarterfinals riding a 17-match winning streak at the All England Club, had not dropped a set this tournament and was bidding to become the first British player to retain the title since 1936.
“To win any tournament back-to-back, let alone back-to-back on a surface like this which sometimes rests on a few points in a set, it’s not always going to go your way,” Murray said.
With Prince William and his wife Kate watching from the Royal Box, Dimitrov lived up to his promise on the biggest stage in the game.
Dimitrov’s win marked a huge step forward for a player nicknamed “Baby Fed” because of a style of play – especially the one-handed backhand – resembling that of Federer. The 23-year-old Dimitrov is also well-known for being the boyfriend of Maria Sharapova.
Dimitrov served 10 aces and had 32 winners and 18 unforced errors. Murray served as many double faults (5) as aces and had more unforced errors (37) than winners (24).
“Today was a bad day,” Murray said. “I made many mistakes. I think I had one backhand winner the entire match which isn’t normally what I do, especially on this surface.”
Dimitrov will next face top-seeded Djokovic, who came from two-sets-to-one down to beat 26th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-2 and reach the Wimbledon semifinals for the fifth consecutive year.
Djokovic, the 2011 champion and 2013 runner-up, extended his perfect record against Cilic to 10-0. He has reached at least the semifinals at 16 of his past 17 Grand Slams.
Djokovic is 3-1 in matches against Dimitrov, who won the Wimbledon warm-up tournament at Queen’s Club.
“He hasn’t lost a match on grass courts this year,” Djokovic said. “He’s the player to beat. `’
Federer, chasing a record eighth Wimbledon title, advanced to his 35th Grand Slam semifinal with a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4 win over fellow Swiss player and Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka.
Federer was broken for the first time in the tournament and lost a set for the first time in five matches, but lifted his game on his favorite court to run his career record against Wawrinka to 14-2.
Federer, who lost in the second round here last year, is through to the semis for the ninth time at Wimbledon. He’s gone on to win the title in all those years except for 2008, when he lost to Nadal in the final.
“I’m just really pleased that I’m back strong this year at Wimbledon,” Federer said. “Last year was such a disappointment … I was very deflated leaving Wimbledon on that note. It’s good to be back in the semis and having a chance to go a step or two further.”
It’s the ninth year in a row that at least two of the so-called “Big Four” in men’s tennis – Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray – have made it to the Wimbledon semifinals.
Earlier, Halep and Bouchard won easily to set up a meeting in the women’s semifinals. Both players are 15-2 in Grand Slam matches this year.
No. 3 Halep won the last 11 games to beat 2013 finalist Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-4, 6-0.
The 13th-seeded Bouchard defeated No. 9 Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-3, 6-4 to reach the semifinals at a third consecutive Grand Slam.
The other semifinal Thursday is an all-Czech matchup between 2011 champion Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova.
Updated July 2, 2014