Defending champion Andy Murray failed in his bid to defend his title, as he went down to the prodigiously talented Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets. Many had predicted that the match would be by far the biggest test of the Scot’s credentials, and so it proved. The Bulgarian wasted no time in stamping his authority on proceedings, hitting without fear. Murray, by contrast, seemed subdued and tentative and reverted back to the passive, reactive style that had been far more evident before the appointment of former coach Ivan Lendl. Dimitrov has long been touted as a future world no.1, and he showed why in the early exchanges. He matched outmanoeuvred Murray in some long baseline rallies (usually Murray’s forte) and more often than not forced his more experienced opponent into errors while hitting many winners of his own, using his elegant forehand and single-handed backhand to devastating effect. You would not have known that the 23 year-old was making his first quarter-final appearance, such was his aggression, composure and flamboyance, while Murray seemed uncharacteristically listless under the watch of new coach, former Wimbledon Champion Amelie Mauresmo.
- Dimitrov delivered arguably the greatest performance of his career
- Image: www.zimbio.com
After a first set that finished in double-quick time, Murray began to use his serve far more effectively and did not allow Dimitrov to dictate to such an extent. Even so, the thirteenth seed secured a break in the seventh game of the second set. However, his focus dropped momentarily and Murray closed the deficit immediately. Both players then held serve twice and a tiebreak ensued. It was neck-and-neck until 4-4, when Dimitrov suddenly raised his game. Murray tried to chip and charge, but Dimitrov picked him off with a superb backhand pass and the next point then showcased the full range of Dimitrov’s talents. His punchy groundstrokes forced Murray from side to side and when the Scot could only block the ball back into play, Dimitrov gleefully raced to the net to dispatch a perfectly-weighted drop-volley. Dimitrov then forced Murray into a forehand error to wrap up the second set, leading to his entourage rising to their feet in delight, including coach Roger Rasheed, who has helped dramtically improve the fitness and consistency of his charge. Murray came from two sets behind to beat Fernando Verdasco at the same stage last year, but he was up against a different animal this time around. Dimitrov continued to boss the rallies and another exquisite volley illustrated the Bulgarian’s dominance. A double-fault by the Briton led to a break of serve and 4-2 to Dimitrov, who then closed out the match. The result caps an extraordinary few days in SW19, which have seen Murray, Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova fall to defeat.
Murray fans will hope this is a temporary blip rather than an indication that a changing of the guard is imminent. It also leaves the long-term future of Mauresmo in doubt, and Murray will need to up his game over the next few months to prove that he made the right decision in appointing her.
Featured image: The Guardian