There’s only one Andy Murray, shouted a member of the crowd.
Not true, because the Andy Murray that lost his Wimbledon quarter-final in straight sets yesterday bore no resemblance to the player that dominated his first four opponents at the All England Club.
They looked the same and spoke the same, but played like they were from different planets.
Murray had not dropped a set in four matches, but looked way off his best against last eight opponent Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian took just over two hours to progress, sending the defending champion spinning out 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-2 – his first straight sets defeat at Wimbledon since losing to Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals four years ago.
Murray had been on a 17-match winning streak on these manicured lawns, an imperious run stretching back to the London Olympics, and was looking to reach his sixth consecutive semi-final.
But his game was too easily dismantled by the rising star Bulgarian, whose big serve and variety of shots have marked him out as a dangerous prospect, especially on grass.
The number three seed made 37 unforced errors, compared to a combined 52 for his first four games, the post-match statistics making grim reading for his coach Amelie Mauresmo.
However, he insisted the pressure of his title defence was not to blame for his suddenly lacklustre performance.
“I handled the pressure fine,” said Murray. “I started the tournament well and I was playing good tennis. This was just a bad day. I made many mistakes and too many unforced errors and then started going for too much and taking chances that weren’t really there.
“I started the match badly and I think that gave him confidence. He was the better player from start to finish. It was just a very tough day all around.”
However, Murray insisted he wouldn’t be taking too long off before returning to the practice court, though whether he continues his fledgling relationship with Mauresmo remains open to debate.
After his exit world No.1, Nadal insisted he was heading for the beach, but the Scot isn’t the sort to laze around.
“I need to go away and make a lot of improvements in my game,” he said.
“I’ve lost a couple of matches in the last few slams where I’ve gone down in straight sets and played poorly.
“I need to have a think about things and get myself in better shape and work even harder. Everyone’s starting to get better. The younger guys are now obviously becoming more mature and improving all the time
“If I’m going to play better tennis than I am just now, the only way to do that is by working even harder than I have before. Getting in the gym, getting stronger, becoming physically better.
“The only way that I can improve is by getting myself on the practice court and working harder than I have done in the last 12 months. Hopefully that will help.”
Murray insisted he has enjoyed working with Mauresmo, who only initially joined his coaching team for the grass court season.
The two certainly appear to have gelled, even though it’s been a very public start to their relationship, with cameras present at every practice session here in SW19.
On their future, Murray said: “We’ll sit down and have a chat in the next few days – it has to come from both sides.”
“I’ve really enjoyed the last couple of weeks. I’ve found it good fun and I’ve found it calming. Tactically, I feel like the chats have been good and it’s the direction I want to take my tennis towards.
“I’m disappointed to lose, but I’m not going to overanalyse things and study everything in too much detail. It was just a bad day at the office.”
Dimitrov’s opponent in the semi-finals will be Novak Djokovic after the Serbian came through a topsy-turvy match with Marin Cilic, prevailing 6-1, 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-2.
The other men’s semi is between Milos Raonic and Roger Federer. Raonic saw off Nick Kyrgios 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(4), while Federer overcame his Swiss counterpart Stan Wawrinka 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-4.
The women’s semis – Eugenie Bouchard v Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova v Lucie Safarova – were due to be played this afternoon.