Created on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 Written by STEPHEN WILSON, AP Sports Writer
LONDON (AP) — 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.
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.
Dimitrov will next face top-seeded Novak 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. "
In the other men's quarterfinals, seven-time champion Roger Federer faced fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka, and Milos Raonic was up against Nick Kyrgios.
In women's play, French Open runner-up Simona Halep and Canada's Eugenie Bouchard advanced to the semifinals in straight sets.
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.
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.
"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.
He took the initiative right from the start against Murray and never looked back.
"As soon as we started warming up I sensed that his game was not at the highest level but at the same time I was feeling pretty confident," Dimitrov said. "The first set really helped me get into a good rhythm and then I was just holding my ground throughout the whole match."
The statistics told the story: 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."
After Dimitrov went up a set and a break, Murray made a run in the second set, breaking to make it 4-4. But, at 4-4 in the tiebreaker, Dimitrov took charge by winning the next three points on a cross-court backhand pass, a backhand drop volley and a backhand volley.
"The second-set tiebreak was a key moment for me," Dimitrov said. "And coming into that third set I knew I had a lot of things under control."
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.
The other semifinal is an all-Czech matchup between 2011 champion Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova.
The third-seeded Halep, down 4-1 in the first set, won 11 games in a row to beat 2013 finalist Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-4, 6-0 in 57 minutes on Centre Court.
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.
Halep is the first Romanian woman to get this far at the All England Club since the Open era began in 1968. Bouchard, who hasn't dropped a set in five matches, is the first Canadian woman to reach the Wimbledon semifinals.