Andy Murray's verdict on his quarter-final defeat by Grigor Dimitrov was as sharp and brutal as the three-set defeat inflicted on the Wimbledon champion on Centre Court yesterday.
On a day that saw Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer survive scares against Marin Cilic and Stanislas Wawrinka respectively, the 27-year-old Scot bowed to the imperious Dimitrov 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-1 in one minute more than two hours.
"He was the better player from start to finish," admitted Murray of a dispiriting loss. "Today was a bad day from my side. I made many mistakes, unforced errors, and then started going for too much and taking chances that weren't really there. I think I hit maybe one backhand winner the entire match, which isn't normally what I do."
He said the anguish of the defeat by Dimitrov did not match that of his loss in the final to Roger Federer in 2010 and said it had challenged him to raise his game.
"I need to go away and make a lot of improvements in my game. I've lost a couple of matches in the last few slams in straight sets and played poorly," said the Scot who has not won a title since Wimbledon last year.
"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 because everyone's starting to get better. The younger guys are now obviously becoming more mature and improving all the time."
He was talking as Milos Raonic, 23, was beating Nick Kyrgios in four sets to reach the last four. "I don't feel old," insisted Murray "I still played some very good tennis in this tournament. I've had a good run here over the last few years. Obviously it's disappointing for it to end like that. But now we'll see whether I can come back stronger and come back better. No-one knows, but I'm going to try."
Murray, who had surgery on his back in September, had played with increasing confidence at Wimbledon, winning all his four matches in straight sets. But Dimitrov, who will move into the top 10 in the world after this result, was in control from the moment he saved a break point in the first game.
Asked if he was still confident in his game, Murray replied: "When I stop thinking I have a chance of winning these tournaments I'll stop playing tennis. This is what I play for. I love these events. I've had a lot of hard losses in them in my career, but also some big highs."
He added of a disappointing performance: "It's not necessarily about being flat. The fire was
still there. My game was just not where I would have liked it to be."
Murray will now have talks with Amelie Mauresmo, his coach,
to decide whether to continue
the relationship that was initially just a short-term deal.
"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. So I hope so, but we'll need to sit down and chat," he said.
Dimitrov, who will face Djokovic in the last four, said he felt that Murray was below par even in the warm-up. He said: "It's just a feeling. I've practised quite a few times with him. I know how he's striking the ball when he's at his best. I know how he's playing when he's not at his best."
Asked whether his girlfriend, Maria Sharapova, had given
him tips for the tournament,
he replied: "She said: 'Win it."'