Andy Murray confessed his game needs urgent improvement after the Scot’s Wimbledon title defence came to an abrupt end at the hands of No11 seed Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals.
The 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-2 defeat snapped Murray’s 17-match winning streak at the All England Club – which included claiming a gold medal at the London Olympics followed by the Wimbledon title last season – and denied him a place in a sixth successive semi-final here.
Since he managed to capture the Wimbledon trophy last season to end Britain’s 77-year wait for a home men’s singles champion, Murray has not been able to win a title and the 27-year-old admits he hasn’t added much to his game since then while the younger generation – such as 23-year-old Dimitrov – have been catching up.
He has now lost in straight sets in three of his last four majors – to Dimitrov, Rafael Nadal in Roland Garros last month and Stan Wawrinka at last year’s US Open.
“I need to go away and make a lot of improvements in my game. I’ve lost a couple of matches in straight sets in the last few slams and played poorly,” he said. “So I need to have a think about things, what are the things I need to improve, and get myself in better shape and work even harder.
"Everyone’s starting to get better," Murray added. "The younger guys are becoming more mature and improving all the time.”
Murray’s defeat came just 24 hours after world No1 Nadal’s shock loss to 19-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios and he believes the young guns are getting harder to beat.
“I don’t feel like I have improved so much since Wimbledon last year, I think I’ve played some very good tennis but also some ordinary stuff at times,” commented Murray, who will drop to No10 in the world when the rankings are released on Monday – his lowest ranking since June 2008.
He said: “If you play against a player, like a (Nick) Kyrgios or Dimitrov or (Milos) Raonic and those guys and you don’t play very well, it’s tough to win those matches now.
“Whereas before, when they’re younger and a bit inexperienced, you can still find ways to come through them. But now that they’re getting more experience and improving, it’s tough to do that.”
Murray revealed he is yet to discuss his future arrangement with his new coach Amelie Mauresmo, who initially teamed up with him for the grass court season.
“I’ve really enjoyed the last couple of weeks (with Amelie). I found it calming. Tactically, I feel like the chats have been good. Also the direction that I would like my tennis to go in,” said Murray. “So I hope (we’ll continue), but we’ll need to sit down and chat.”
Toni Nadal believes Rafael Nadal’s days of winning Wimbledon are not behind him and that the Spaniard could have gone all the way had it not been for Nick Kyrgios’ devastating serving game.
The world No1 was on the receiving end of 37 aces from Kyrgios, who beat him in four sets in the fourth round on Tuesday.
It was the third year in a row Nadal has suffered an unexpected defeat to an opponent ranked 100 or lower, having lost to Lukas Rosol – ranked 100 at the time – in the second round in 2012, to Steve Darcis – ranked 135 – in the first round in 2013 and this week to world No144 Kyrgios.
But Toni, Nadal’s coach and uncle, believes it is a different story this year and that his nephew can add a third Wimbledon title to his resume in the future.
“Rafael has won this tournament two times and made three more finals. Yes we can win (it again). It’s very difficult and every year it’s more difficult. But I’m sure this year we were prepared to have a very good tournament,” Toni told Sport360.
“If Rafael had beaten Kyrgios, maybe he could have won the tournament because it’s just a couple of balls that made the difference. It wasn’t the same as last year when Rafael couldn’t run and he played really bad. This year he could have beaten everyone. He could lose, but he had chances to beat the best players in the world.
“I think Rafael normally here he plays better in the second week than the first week, but we played against a very good player, a very difficult player who made 37 aces.”
Indeed Kyrgios won just seven more points than Nadal in the fourth round and the 19-year-old Aussie could break serve once throughout the clash.
Still the fact is, Nadal has gone from making five finals in a row at the All England Club to winning just four matches here in three years.
Asked if Nadal remains psychologically confident on grass, Toni said: “Yes. We have had many problems in the last two years, 2013 and 2012 but this year he played well and was very positive and confident to play.
“We know always when we come here that it’s very difficult, not for Rafael, for everyone it’s difficult to play here on grass. All the matches are 7-6, 7-5… it’s not like Roland Garros when you have many possibilities. But we arrived here good.
“I think Rafael has played not a bad game here this year in Wimbledon. But we have had a very bad draw because we played with players – it’s so difficult to play against these kind of players. Players with big serves.”
Kyrgios, who was playing just his second career grand slam main draw, has been the surprise package of the tournament and many were shocked that his level never dipped over the four sets against Nadal, a 14-time major champion.
But Toni says he wasn’t surprised by the Aussie teenager’s level.
“No because Kyrgios is a good player and this kind of surface is wonderful for him. When you are young you can remember when Boris Becker won here, Boris Becker was 17 and he had a very good serve and he could serve, serve, serve, then he learnt a lot and became one of the best players. But at 17 he could beat everyone because of his serve,” explained Toni.
“So am I surprised by Kyrgios? No! He has the aggressiveness and he was playing without doubts, with nothing to lose.”
Looking ahead, Toni believes Nadal has regained his confidence and will be ready to defend his titles in Canada, Cincinnati and the US Open.
“Rafael began the year very good in Doha and Australia and then he played not too good and I think he has recovered his confidence and his level is again at a good level. and I think Rafael now has the possibility to make a good US tour and a strong finish to the season.”
Sport360's Reem Abulleil is stationed at Wimbledon throughout the tournament and each day will be providing an alternative outlook on the happenings at SW19.
Eugenie Bouchard and twin sister Beatrice were named after Prince Andrew’s daughters.
So you can imagine the Canadian’s excitement when she got to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge yesterday at Wimbledon.
Getting ready to walk onto Court 1 for her quarter-final with Angelique Kerber, Bouchard got a quick glimpse of William and Kate, who were in the Royal Box to catch Andy Murray play Grigor Dimitrov.
“When we walked out, all these security guards rushed over to us and were like ‘nobody move, move your bags to the side, there’s some Royals coming through’.
We’re like, okay,” said Bouchard. “So we were just waiting, and then suddenly William and Kate walk by to go on Centre Court. I was a little bit in awe. That was my Royal sighting of the day.
"It was funny, because we actually walked to our court late because Kate and William had to use that hallway. So it’s funny how Wimbledon does it.”
Take a bow
On Centre Court, Murray had just lost to Dimitrov and they both remembered to bow to the Royals on their way out.
He may have just seen his title defence end abruptly, but Murray made sure to remind Dimitrov they had to bow before leaving the court.
“We spoke about it before the match and we were given the instructions to bow. It used to be a tradition, but now it’s only if there’s royalty in there,” said Murray.
“I made sure to remind him when we were walking off the court, because it was the first time he’s been in the semis of a slam.”