LONDON: Grigor Dimitrov sent defending champion Andy Murray crashing out of Wimbledon on Thursday leaving Grand Slam warhorses Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in pole position to contest Sunday’s final.
Dimitrov, the 11th seed from Bulgaria, claimed a 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 quarter-final victory over third-seeded Murray on Centre Court, just 24 hours after world number one and two-time champion Rafael Nadal had been knocked out by Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios.
Dimitrov, as well known for being Maria Sharapova’s boyfriend as he is for his achievements on the court, will next tackle top seed Djokovic, the 2011 champion, in Friday’s semi-finals.
Djokovic defeated Croatia’s Marin Cilic for the 10th time in 10 meetings courtesy of a gruelling 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 6-2 triumph on Court One.
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.
Seven-time champion Federer reached his ninth All England Club semi-final with a 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-4 victory over Swiss compatriot Stan Wawrinka, his 14th win in 16 meetings against the Australian Open champion.
Federer will now play eighth-seeded Milos Raonic, the first Canadian man in the semi-finals in 106 years, for a place in the final.
Raonic ended world number 144 Kyrgios’s giant-killing act with a brutal 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) win.
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 a 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.”
World number 13 Dimitrov will move into 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, who has a 3-1 career lead over Dimitrov.
“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.”
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.
Raonic fired 39 aces and 73 winners past Kyrgios as he reached a maiden semi-final at a major. He allowed just 20 points off his own serve and only three in the fourth set.
Robert Powell in 1908 was the last Canadian man to make the last-four at the All England Club.
“It’s great to have this kind of win, especially at a tournament where I always wanted to play so well and haven’t in previous years. To turn it around is pretty special,” said Raonic.
Federer enjoys a 4-0 career lead over the Canadian going into the semi-finals.