LONDON – 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 and move into the semifinals once again at the All England Club. Big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic also made the final four, beating the Australian teenager who ousted Rafael Nadal.
In women’s play, French Open runner-up Simona Halep and Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard advanced to the semifinals in straight sets.
Dimitrov 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,” 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.
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’s 3-1 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, 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.
“Last year was such a disappointment,” Federer said. “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.”
Federer will first need to tame the big serving of Raonic, who had 39 aces in a 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (4) win over Nick Kyrgios, the 19-year-old wild-card entry who stunned Nadal Tuesday.
Like Dimitrov, Raonic has made a breakthrough run to his first Grand Slam semifinal. He’s also the first Canadian man in more than 100 years to reach the Wimbledon semis.
“It’s another step forward,” said Raonic, who is 0-4 against Federer. “The goal is to be the best player in the world and this is one of those steps that you have to take to keep getting better.”
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.
Halep and Bouchard posted wins over 2013 finalist Sabine Lisicki and Angelique Kerber, respectively, to set up a meeting in the women’s semifinals. Both players are 15-2 in Grand Slam matches this year. The other semifinal is an all-Czech matchup between 2011 champion Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova.