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Defending Wimbledon champ Murray knocked out in quarters by Dimitrov

LONDON — The silence at Centre Court made abundantly clear that Andy Murray's time as Wimbledon champion was coming to a close.

In Wednesday's quarterfinal against Grigor Dimitrov, Murray, who in 2013 ended Britain's 77-year wait for a men's winner, sailed a backhand slice long to fall behind by a set and a break. The crowd of nearly 15,000, usually so vociferous in support of Murray, sat quietly.

And when a forehand fell short, the magical ride ended for Murray and his fans with a 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 loss to the 11th-seeded Dimitrov, who became the first man from Bulgaria to reach a Grand Slam semifinal.

"You can have bad days as an athlete," Murray said. "You don't win all of the time. Sometimes, you just have to take it on the chin and move on."

Murray hadn't lost a set in his first four matches but made 37 unforced errors Wednesday, more than twice as many as Dimitrov.

"Even when I wanted to get into longer rallies, I was missing shots," the third-seeded Murray said. "I was unable to make him work as hard as I needed to."

Dimitrov was broken only once while showing off the all-court game and smooth, one-handed backhand that earned him the nickname "Baby Fed" — as in seven-time Wimbledon champ Roger Federer.

"As soon as we started warming up, I sensed (Murray's) game wasn't at his highest level," Dimitrov said. "The first set helped me get into a good rhythm. The second set tiebreak was a key moment for me. Coming into the third set, I knew I had a lot of things under control."

Friday, Dimitrov faces another past champ, top-seeded Novak Djokovic. He reached the semifinals for the fifth consecutive year by beating No. 26 Marin Cilic 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-2.

Djokovic was troubled not only by Cilic, but by repeated slips that prompted him to change his shoes midway through the match. Playing on No. 1 Court, Djokovic also was rattled by intermittent cheering from outside the arena for Murray, whose match was played simultaneously.

"I said to the chair umpire, 'Let's just stop our match, put theirs live on the big screen, and let's watch it 'til they're done,' " said Djokovic, last year's runnerup to Murray.

Federer, the No. 4 seed, was broken and lost a set, each for the first time in the tournament, but beat Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-4. His 35th Grand Slam semifinal comes a year after he lost in the second round.

"Last year was rough. I was very disappointed," Federer said. "Went back to the practice courts. Didn't have any options left at that point."

Federer will take on No. 8 Milos Raonic, the first Canadian man in a Grand Slam semifinal since 1923. He beat Nick Kyrgios — the 19-year-old Australian who ousted Rafael Nadal in the fourth round — 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) with the help of 39 aces.

"The goal is to be the best player in the world," Raonic said. "And this is one of those steps that you have to take to keep getting better."

On the women's side, No. 3 Simona Halep beat 2013 runnerup and No. 19 Sabine Lisicki 6-4, 6-0. Today, she faces No. 13 Eugenie Bouchard, who beat No. 9 Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-4.

"I stayed very aggressive, very close to the baseline, and I stuck to my tactics," Halep said. "I opened the court very well and used the angles when I could."

Today's other semifinal is 2011 champ Petra Kvitova and No. 23 Lucie Safarova. Kvitova is the only woman left who has won a major title.

"It's a normal evolution of things," Bouchard, 20, said. "As the great champions get a bit older, the new ones start coming in."

Dimitrov and Raonic, both 23, would like to see that among the men. This marks the ninth year in a row at least two members of the so-called "Big 4" — Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray — made the semifinals at Wimbledon. That quartet has earned the past 11 trophies.

"The younger guys, we want to come on that stage. We strive for this. I think we're thirsty for that," Dimitrov said. "We want to prove ourselves."

Federer: All-white clothing rule 'too strict'

LONDON — Roger Federer said Wimbledon's enforcement of its all-white clothing policy is "too strict."

There have been complaints from players over the more stringent regulations that include undergarments and amount of colored trim on shirts, shorts, headbands and wristbands.

"It's too strict," said Federer, who in 2013 was told not to wear shoes with orange soles. "But I respect. I understand. Maybe one day they'll loosen up the grip again a bit."

.Today

Women's semifinals

Simona Halep (3) vs. Eugenie Bouchard (13), Petra Kvitova (6) vs. Lucie Safarova (23)

TV: 8 a.m. ESPN

Defending Wimbledon champ Murray knocked out in quarters by Dimitrov 07/02/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 9:42pm]

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