The manner of Andy Murray's straight-sets thrashing at the hands of Grigor Dimitrov, having won his previous four Wimbledon matches without dropping a set this Championships, was perplexing. And seven words uttered have dominated a post-mortem that suggests off-court events may have affected the Scot's display.
Cryptically, Murray was heard shouting "five fucking minutes before the match starts" when 4-2 down in the third set. No longer a player who often allows his emotions to get the better of him, the telling tirade suggested Murray was unsettled. Dimitrov "sensed" something was awry since Murray had not "looked right" in the warm-up.
"I think it's just a feeling," the Bulgarian opined. "I know how he is striking the ball when he is at his best. I sensed that his game was not at the highest level. As soon as we hit the first ball on the court I felt something was just a little different. I just had to go with the flow."
Murray was beaten in straight-sets by Dimitrov on Wednesday
Murray's coach, Amélie Mauresmo, girlfriend Kim Sears and mother Judy Murray were all in attendance on Centre Court. Murray left the All England Club immediately after his post-match interview without changing out of his tennis kit.
Miss Sears, 26, was later seen leaving Wimbledon alone but Murray, who remembered to bow to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after his defeat, insisted he had a "bad day".
This calendar year, Murray has not beaten a top-10 player or reached a final. The 27-year-old's break from the game to undergo back surgery and split with former coach Ivan Lendl are two standout factors, but since the heady high of beating Novak Djokovic to win Wimbledon 12 months ago he has struggled.
Kim Sears leaves the grounds separately from Murray after the straight sets loss
Murray looked nervous and leaden-footed against 11th seed Dimitrov but insisted expectation was not a factor in his performance.
"I handled the pressure fine," he said. "I started the tournament well. I was playing good tennis. Today was a bad day from my side. I made many mistakes and then started going for too much and taking chances that weren't really there. It was a tough day all around."
Murray's spokesman, Matt Gentry, said the player "always mutters to himself... occasionally his language is a bit colourful... he was off his game."
Whatever the reasons behind Murray's grievance, his elimination prolongs a torrid summer for British sport after the England national team experienced their worst World Cup since 1958, the rugby players were defeated by the All Blacks and the cricket side were beaten by Sri Lanka in their first summer Test series.
Judy Murray watches son Andy yesterday
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