SO where does he go?

And how does he come back? The three-set defeat by Grigor Dimitrov on Centre Court will be placed in a special, painful category for Andy Murray. The 27-year-old Scot has played Wimbledon nine times, winning only once, so defeat is not unusual. However, it is the manner of the loss to the 23-year-old Bulgarian that means Murray has ordered both a period of reflection and hard labour.

Dimitrov 2014 has been placed into the category only previously inhabited by Rafael Nadal 2008 and Roger Federer 2012. These were losses that almost devastated Murray. Nadal's three-set stroll in a quarter-final convinced Murray that he had to be better physically and had to address how he recovered between matches. He did this and returned as a serial grand slam contender.

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Then there was the defeat by Federer in the final. There were tears. It was, he said, his toughest loss. There followed, too, an Olympic gold medal, a US Open title and victory at Wimbledon.

The lesson is that Murray took awful defeat and by extraordinary alchemy turned into ultimate victory. He must now do the same in the aftermath of the loss to Dimitrov.

This loss had specific, concerning elements. Both Nadal and Federer were older than Murray and grand slam winners when they defeated him. Dimitrov, at 23, is now in his first semi-final in a grand slam. Murray, too, was tentative with a high level of unforced errors and a low level of consistency.

He will use the experience of 2008 and 2012 to rehabilitate himself and his game. "That's how I am going to have to look at it because if you get too down about things you waste time and the US Open will come round pretty quickly," he said deep inside Wimbledon, far from the rest of the world's press.

"I need to make sure that when I get back on the practice court my head is clear and I am looking forward and I have a clear plan as to what I am going to do over the next five weeks before I start playing matches again," he said.

He also needs to win. Murray has not won a tournament since Wimbledon last year and has not beaten a top-10 player since bashing Novak Djokovic in three sets in last year's final.

"The best way to prepare for majors is by winning a lot of matches and I have not done that," added Murray. "In Doha, I didn't do that, didn't do that before the French, didn't win Queens. It hasn't stopped me from having good tournaments in the slams but to have great ones it helps if you have a good build-up."

Murray had back surgery in September but he would not use that as an excuse. "I believed in myself," he said, pointing out that in the previous 2014 slams he had lost to Nadal and Federer. "I felt I was playing good tennis, playing well for days, moving well, my game was in a good place. I just had a poor day. I don't want to over-analyse it too much but I just know that if I make some improvements in my game when you have those off-days you can still find a way to win. That's what I need to do."

He will have a few days off and then return to court. He also has a decision to make over Amelie Mauresmo, the coach hired for the grass court season. Murray was positive about continuing the relationship but admitted it was a "two-way" conversation.

Murray knows he has to improve his service game that has become a target for the top players. His movement was excellent throughout the tournament but was poor against Dimitrov, perhaps an indication that the second week of a tournament is making demands that are difficult to cope with in the first season back after surgery.

The last result is always the one that gathers the most attention but there was much at Wimbledon to encourage the Scot. He played beautifully in the first four rounds, raising expectations that he would face Djokovic today in the semi-final.

He will not and instead will have to face the reality that he is shortly to be confirmed as world No.10. His next major challenge is the US Open in August and he will play in Cincinnati before that after a training block in Miami.

"The spark is trying to win these events and that is what I enjoy, that is what has motivated me over the last four or five years," he said of the grand slam tournaments. "Before that, every tournament was new and that was great but as I got older I wanted to win these [grand slam] events and put a lot of time and effort into doing that," he said.

He will now do the same. He cannot know if there is another major at the end of the journey but he knows the route.