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Murray rues sluggish start

Andy Murray was left to lament a slovenly start after his Wimbledon title defence came to a crashing halt at the hands of Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.

The reigning champion arrived on Centre Court on Wednesday having won all 12 sets played, but Queen's Club champion Dimitrov roared into the semi-finals with a 6-1 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 triumph.

The man who had sparked rapturous celebrations across the country a year ago when he became the first home-grown men's champion in 77 years, appeared to sleepwalk through a one-sided first set, threatened to fight back in the second and was simply outclassed in the third.

Murray conceded nine unforced errors in the opening set and his off-court friend Dimitrov seized his opportunity by winning both his break points as he claimed the first set in just 25 minutes.

\"I'm disappointed, especially disappointed with the way I started the match,\" he told the BBC. "I played a poor first set and that gave him confidence at the beginning.

"In the second set he got tight at the end and it could have gone either way. When he got that set it's a lot easier to settle down when you're two sets to love up.

"If I had managed to come back with him having been a break up in that set and got it, maybe I would have been able to find a way back, but it wasn't a great day."

Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, were among the Centre Court crowd left stunned by Murray's meek abdication and Dimitrov admits he felt the weight of the partisan home support.

However the 23-year-old, who will face top seed Novak Djokovic in his first Grand Slam semi-final, spotted a chink in Murray's armour and was determined to expose it.

"I am excited and just happy I got through that match in straight sets,\" he admitted. \"It's never easy coming to play Andy in front of a home crowd and I am just fortunate and happy.

"As soon as we started warming up I sensed his game was not at the highest level and I was feeling good. I held my ground...the tiebreak was crucial. I went into the third set very positive.

"It's tough when you know the person well outside the court and you have to face them. I have hopefully two more matches left and I am just focusing on that and trying not to get carried away."

Murray was quick to refute Dimitrov's claims and reiterated his distress at the way he started the game.

"I felt fine in the warm-up," he explained. "I obviously got off to a bad start so that was the disappointing part of the match for me.

"I found a way to get myself back into it at the end of the second set but the start was not good enough. You need to start better."

The quarter-final reverse means Murray will not feature in the Wimbledon semi-finals for the first time since 2008 and his remarkable run of winning 17 successive matches at the All England Club, dating back to the 2012 London Olympics was also quashed.