Andy Murray’s Wimbledon defence was all going rather well until Wednesday.
Then up stepped Grigor Dimitrov. The rest is history.
Going into the game with the Bulgarian, Murray was coming off a 17-match winning streak at the All England club, and bidding to star in his sixth consecutive semi-final. In short, it all looked very good for the Scot.
But, just like that, in a touch over two hours, the dream was over, and the defence was over.
Now the inquest must begin. How on earth did Andy Murray, the form player of the tournament and the reigning champion lose in three fairly straightforward sets to the 11th seed Dimitrov?
Well, according to the man himself, he was made to pay for a slow start. He told the BBC:
“My start to the match was poor. I started the match badly and I think that gave him confidence.”
Indeed, we don’t really need Murray’s wise words to work out that he started the match badly – the stark 6-1 etched into the first set column of the scoreboard does that just as well.
But make no mistake, the manner of this defeat will weigh very heavily on Murray’s mind. Having not dropped a set in the previous four rounds, Murray failed to win a single one as he free-falled to defeat. It was a loss to raise question marks about his coaching, his application and his mindset.
It may well be that this was merely a bad day at the office, but it has to be said that’s one hell of a bad day at the office. When his contemporaries lose, it’s usually in close-fought, battle-type contests, rather than the whimpering fashion in which Murray said goodbye to his home crowd.
There will, inevitably, be question marks over the coaching decisions Murray has made. The relationship with Amelie Mauresmo, that last week appeared to be blossoming so fruitfully, will now be under the microscope. Questions will be asked about why it has taken Murray so long to sort out his coaching set-up since the departure of Ivan Lendl some three months ago.
As always, when one is a winner of something, Murray has become a target. He is the one to beat, and his challenge now is going to be how he can rise above it and reach the imperious level that Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have all scaled at various points. Reaching this level will be the difference between the Scot being mentioned in the same breath as these guys in 20 years time, or being just some bloke that won a couple of Grand Slams once upon a time.
With around four years left at the top level, Murray’s time to truly write himself into folklore is limited, but not by too much. However, setbacks like the Lendl situation clearly don’t help, and Murray will hope for a smoother ride for the rest of this season and the ones to come.
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