Andy Murray last night promised to work “harder than ever” after suffering his worst defeat at Wimbledon for eight years.
“I need to go away and make a lot of improvements in my game,” Murray said after his 6-1 7-6 6-2 mauling by Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals ended the defence of his title.
“I need to have a think about the things I need to improve on and get myself in better shape and work even harder, because everyone's starting to get better.”
Dimitrov, the world No 13, became the first player ranked outside the top 10 to beat Murray at his home Grand Slam since the Scot lost to Marcos Baghdatis in the fourth round on only his second appearance in 2006.
Yesterday's defeat ended Murray's run of five successive Wimbledon semi-finals and could mean he falls to No 10 in the world rankings next week.
Murray, who had not dropped a set in his first four matches, played poorly throughout as Dimitrov reached his first Grand Slam semi-final.
Tomorrow the 23-year-old Bulgarian will face Novak Djokovic, who beat Marin Cilic in five sets.
The defeat also ended Murray's 17-match winning streak at the All England Club. During that run he became the first Briton to win an Olympic gold medal in tennis for 104 years and ended the country's 77-year wait for a Wimbledon men's singles champion.
At least Murray is in good company in failing to defend his crown here — Stefan Edberg, Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt and Djokovic all failed too.
Murray, nevertheless, did not blame the pressure of returning as the defending champion.
He said the weight of expectation had been no different to other years.
“To be honest, I handled the pressure fine,” he said. “I started the tournament well. I was playing good tennis. Today was a bad day.”
He added: “It's an incredibly difficult tournament to win.
“Quite a lot of the players that have won have come back and won the tournament in the future, but to win any tournament back to back, never mind a Grand Slam on a surface like this which sometimes rests on a few points in a set, it's not always going to go your way.
“So I would say grass is a tough surface to do it on. But I didn't feel like that had any bearing on the outcome of my tournament.”
Murray said he would sit down in the next few days with Amelie Mauresmo, his coach, to discuss their future.
The Frenchwoman was initially appointed as his coach on a trial basis for the grass-court season.
“It has to come from both sides,” Murray said.
“I've really enjoyed the last couple of weeks. I've found it good fun.
“I found it calming. Tactically, I feel like the chats have been good — and the direction that I would like my tennis to go in.”
Dimitrov came up just short against Rafael Nadal in his first slam quarter-final at the Australian Open in January, but the warning to the top men was there.
Since teaming up with Australian coach Roger Rasheed last October, Dimitrov has made giant leaps forward and did not want to hype up his victory over Murray too much.
“There's nothing extraordinary,” he said after his first win over a top-10 player at a slam.
“It's a good feeling. I'm not going to hide that. It's a great feeling. I'm proud of what I did.
“But it's something that I've worked for — to get onto that stage, come out, and switch to another gear.
“It's a quarter-final match, playing against the defending champion, against a gentleman like Andy. That adds a lot.
“At the same time, it's just another match for me.
“I am excited. Maybe I'm not showing it, but the tournament continues for me.
“I just need to be as composed as possible, as humble as possible. I'm happy to be in that semi-final. Hopefully there's two more to go for me.”
For all his ambition of greater things to come, Dimitrov did take time to soak up the atmosphere on Centre Court and his achievement.
“I was just thankful for today,” he said of his feelings at the moment of victory.
“After the match I had those good memories from my junior years when I was playing on those outside courts.
“After every match I was so excited that I was going on in the tournament. I think today was one of those days. It's as if a dream came true for me.”