LONDON - Defending champion Andy Murray joined Rafael Nadal at the Wimbledon exit door 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 number one 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 quarter-final, 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.