Defending champion Andy Murray joined Rafael Nadal at the Wimbledon exit door on Wednesday when he was sent crashing by Grigor Dimitrov, who stormed into a semi-final clash with top seed Novak Djokovic.
Dimitrov, the 11th seed, clinched a sensational 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 victory on Centre Court just 24 hours after world No 1 and two-time champion Nadal had been knocked out in the fourth round by Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios.
Seven-time champion Roger Federer reached his ninth All England Club semi-final with a 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-4 victory over compatriot Stan Wawrinka, his 14th win in 16 meetings against the Australian Open champion.
Federer will play either Kyrgios, the world number 144, or Canadian eighth seed Milos Raonic for a place in the final.
The 23-year-old Dimitrov will be playing in his first Grand Slam semi-final against Djokovic, who will be appearing his 23rd and 16th in his last 17 majors.
Djokovic, the 2011 champion, defeated Croatia’s Marin Cilic for the 10th time in 10 meetings, clinching a battling 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 6-2 triumph on Court One.
Murray had hoped to become the first British man to successfully defend the Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936 but the 27-year-old’s defeat snapped his 17-match winning streak at the All England Club.
“I’m very disappointed with the way I started. I felt that gave him confidence at the beginning,” said Murray, who hasn’t reached a final since his 2013 Wimbledon triumph.
“He played a very solid match, making few mistakes and a lot of returns. I just wish I’d made it tougher for him. It wasn’t a great day.”
Dimitrov said he was pleased to get the job done in straight sets.
“I am excited and happy to win through in straight sets. It’s never easy against Andy in front of his home crowd but today I was fortunate,” Dimitrov said.
“I sensed in the warm up that his game was not at the highest level but I was already confident I could play at a high level and play good tennis.”
After years of struggling to live up to the vast potential that has earned him numerous comparisons with Roger Federer – and the nickname ‘Baby Fed’ – this was a thrilling performance from a man who finally secured his first win over a top 10 player at a Grand Slam at the fifth attempt.
The world number 13 was playing in his first All England Club quarterfinal, but he is a former junior Wimbledon champion and had underlined his grasscourt pedigree by winning the Queen’s Club title last month.
Victory also assured him of making the top 10 next week, the first Bulgarian man to achieve such lofty status.
Six-time major winner Djokovic went level with Pete Sampras and Rafael Nadal by making the last-four at a major for the 23rd time.
“It was a tough five-setter. I knew that Marin would be aggressive. I took the first set and had chances to break in the second but didn’t take them,” said Djokovic.
“I dropped serve and the momentum shifted but in the last two sets I regained control, swung through the ball, had more stability on the ground and I was getting my returns back.
“Even though I allowed him back in, I am happy that I managed to find the right pace.”
Federer reached his 35th Grand Slam semi-final with victory over Wawrinka, who ran out of steam having played three times in three days.
“Stan played great in the first two sets but maybe he struggled with his fitness a little,” said Federer, who admitted he has been especially motivated at Wimbledon this year following his surprise second round loss to Sergiy Stakhovsky 12 months ago.
“Last year was a disappointment as Wimbledon is always a highlight of the year for me. I didn’t come close and I was very deflated.”
Wednesday’s win was the 17-time Grand Slam champion’s 72nd match win at the All England Club, which moved him into second place on the all-time list ahead of Boris Becker and behind only Jimmy Connors.
Bouchard continues brilliant run
Eugenie Bouchard moved a step closer to being crowned the queen of Wimbledon as the Canadian glamour girl booked a semi-final showdown with Simona Halep.
Bouchard’s royalty-obsessed mother named the 20-year-old after the younger daughter of Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, while her sister is named after Beatrice, Andrew’s elder daughter.
Those regal connections have earned Bouchard plenty of intrigued enquires from the British media over the last fortnight and the 13th seed looks in the mood for a royal audience with the Duchess of Kent, who traditionally presents the Venus Rosewater dish awarded to the women’s singles champion at the All England Club.
Bouchard reached her first semi-final at the grasscourt Grand Slam and ensured a move into the world top 10 by beating German ninth seed Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-4.
Victory also meant that Bouchard has reached the last-four of all three Grand Slams in 2014.
The blonde Canadian was rarely threatened on Court One where Kerber, a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2012, was still feeling the effects of her marathon fourth round win over Maria Sharapova 24 hours earlier.
Bouchard, who will rise to No 8 in the world next week to equal the record high ranking achieved by a Canadian, said: “It was definitely a tough battle, I’ve played her a few times and it’s always been tough, so I knew it wasn’t over.
“I tried to keep fighting and thankfully I did it in the end.
“I’ve been working hard to stay mentally in the moment. I made a few bad errors but I came up with enough winners at the right time.”
Bouchard has played Halep just once – losing in three sets at Indian Wells earlier this year.
“Halep is a very good player, third in the world. I’m definitely excited to be in the semi-finals and I want to go one step further,” she said.
But Bouchard, beaten in the last four at both the Australian and French Opens, must find a solution to her semi-final failures against a daunting opponent in world No 3 Halep on Thursday.
Halep swept into her first Wimbledon semi-final with a crushing 6-4, 6-0 victory over 2013 finalist Sabine Lisicki.
Halep recorded her 250th career win in memorable fashion as the world No 3 dismissed German 19th seed Lisicki, beaten by Marion Bartoli in the final 12 months ago, in just 57 minutes on Centre Court.
The 22-year-old reached her maiden Grand Slam final at the French Open last month and, after winning 11 consecutive games to sink Lisicki, she is on the verge of another major final at the All England Club.
“I played my best today and I was enjoying every moment. It was incredible to be on Centre Court. It was just my second time,” Halep said.
“She had a 4-1 lead but I came back well after that. I’m really happy I could win.
“I have more confidence now and the secret is just to enjoy every match. I feel happy on court and I’m moving well.”
Since losing in the Wimbledon second round last year, Halep has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings from 32nd 12 months ago to her current lofty position of third and now she stands on the verge of breaking new ground back in south-west London.
Halep, who was only the second Romanian to reach the last eight at Wimbledon, had already made the strong showings at both the Australian and French Opens this year, advancing to the final in Paris last month before losing a three-set classic against Sharapova.
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