There will be no repeat men's singles champion at Wimbledon this year. Rising star Grigor Dimitrov shocked third-seeded Andy Murray 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-2 in straight sets in the quarterfinals Wednesday.
The win is a massive one for Dimitrov, primarily because this represents the deepest he has ever advanced at a Grand Slam event, per ESPN.com's Steve Tignor:
The shockingly dominant performance ensures that Dimitrov will be ranked higher than Murray once Wimbledon concludes, according to Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times:
Dimitrov technically pulled off an upset by beating Murray in the quarters, but achieving similar feats in the future may no longer be viewed in the same light.
Murray entered the match with plenty of hype surrounding him as the defending Wimbledon champion. With that said, Dimitrov was in excellent form, and Murray knew that the match wouldn't be a walk in the park by any means, per ATPWorldTour.com.
Now he's starting to come into his prime. He's won a lot of matches this year. He's a tough player. Will be a hard match for me. It's a big opportunity for him as well, playing on the Centre Court at Wimbledon for the first time. It's a great opportunity for him. Hopefully we can play a good match.
In many ways, the disparity between Murray as a No. 3 seed and Dimitrov as a No. 11 was fool's gold. Murray is unquestionably the more accomplished player overall, but Dimitrov had a victory over Murray in 2014 prior to Wednesday's meeting, according to Wimbledon's official Twitter account:
That meant Dimitrov had the knowledge and belief necessary to beat Murray, even on Murray's home turf. The fact that the London crowd was firmly behind Murray certainly didn't seem to bother Dimitrov in the early going.
The Bulgarian upstart was all over the defending Wimbledon champion in the first set, breaking him twice and taking the opener 6-1 in just 25 minutes. Murray had been rolling through the competition at Wimbledon until that point, having not dropped a set through the first four rounds of the tournament, per SI Tennis:
While the outcome of the first set seemed to shock many of those in attendance, perhaps it shouldn't have. Based purely on results, Dimitrov has simply been the better player this year, according to Neil Harman of The Times:
Some might have expected Dimitrov's level of play to drop off in the second set, but that wasn't the case. Murray certainly played better as he protected his serve, but it became quite clear that Dimitrov didn't intend to back down.
With the two competitors playing to a stalemate, the second set had to be decided in a tiebreak. Murray initially looked to be rounding into form, as he held an early advantage in the tiebreak. His serve in particular seemed to be getting Dimitrov off balance, per ESPN Tennis:
That was short lived, however, as Dimitrov battled back from the minor deficit and ultimately took the tiebreak 7-4 largely because he remained on the aggressive. After Murray went down two sets to love, Dan King of The Sun believed the odds of a comeback looked bleak.
The body language of both men told that story as well. While Dimitrov was elated to take a 2-0 lead in sets, Murray didn't appear to be in an ideal state of mind, per Craig O'Shannessy of The New York Times:
Murray needed to dig deep and find some inspiration in the third, but he was never able to. He and Dimitrov traded holds for the first half of the set before Dimitrov was finally able to get to him. Murray surrendered a break to go down 4-2, and he had nobody to blame but himself:
That hole proved too deep for Murray to dig out of. A calm and comfortable Dimitrov held steady for the remainder of the set and pulled off the upset in fairly routine fashion.
This marks what is undoubtedly the biggest win of Dimitrov's career. He is viewed as a potential multi-time Grand Slam winner and seems well on his way to reaching that immense potential.
Dimitrov already finds himself in the semifinal at Wimbledon, where he will face the winner of the match between Novak Djokovic and Marin Cilic. There is little doubt that Dimitrov's preference would be to face Cilic since Djoker is arguably the world's best player, but Dimitrov may be able to beat anyone in his current form.
Djokovic hasn't been perfect this year by any means, and Dimitrov's confidence has to be through the roof after beating the defending Wimbledon champion.
Conversely, Wednesday's loss figures to be demoralizing for Murray. So much was expected of him this year after breaking the British curse at Wimbledon in 2013, but he didn't come through. Things have been challenging for Murray since that triumph as he has dealt with injuries and inconsistent play, and his loss to Dimitrov is a microcosm of that.
Murray is still one of the best and most talented players in the world, but the gap is starting to close with guys like Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios coming into their own. If nothing else, this year's edition of Wimbledon has proven that the days of the "Big Four" in men's tennis may be nearing a conclusion.
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