Andy Murray went out of Wimbledon with a whimper, not a whoop, as he lost disappointingly to his hitting partner and friend Grigor Dimitrov in front of a stunned Centre Court crowd yesterday, writes Colin Mackenzie.
Last year at the same stage he had made a courageous and dramatic comeback from two sets down against Fernando Verdasco to post a five set victory en route to the title he had craved for a decade.
The most disappointing feature of yesterday's loss was the lack of passion and fire in his play. He seemed to accept the notion of defeat from the very first game when he had a chance to break Dimitrov's serve.
Afterwards the Bulgarian said that he sensed Murray wasn't at his best - even during the ten minute knock-up prior to the start. He didn't feel that Murray was hitting the ball with his usual ferocity and skill.
Breaking a string at one crucial point in the second set merely exacerbated Murray's "bad day at the office" as he later put it. In truth his body language was poor, his serve (particularly his vulnerable second serve) little short of woeful while he hit 37 unforced errors, more than double those of his opponent.
Murray served only five aces (Dimitrov 10) and managed to break the Bulgarian's serve only once to go four all in the second set and briefly to give his supporters, who included the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, some hope.
But Dimitrov snuffed out the mini revival in the tiebreak, winning the last three points at four all with a thundering one-handed backhand and two delightful volleys at the net. Murray lost his serve at 2-2 in the third set with a double fault (one of five in the match) and that was that. No fight, no heart, no result.
Afterwards a contrite Murray was brave enough to face the press and said: "I need to have a think about things and get myself in better shape and work even harder because everyone is starting to get better.
"The younger guys are now obviously becoming more mature and improving all the time, so I need to make improvements to my game. I don't feel I have improved so much since Wimbledon last year. I think I've played some good tennis but also some ordinary stuff at times."
He and new coach Amelie Mauresmo, the 2006 Ladies champion at Wimbledon, will also sit down to discuss their relationship and whether it will continue. Tennis is a results driven sport and, so far, Mauresmo has presided over a mini disaster - although yesterday's abject capitulation was hardly her fault.
Murray had looked supreme in his first four matches this year. What went wrong yesterday was clearly a mental matter. Has Mauresmo the skill to get inside Murray's head - that is the question to be answered.
Dimitrov, 23, known as Baby Fed because his style is similar to that of seven times Wimbledon champion Roger Federer, is the boyfriend of Maria Sharapova who was licking her wounds somewhere else after her defeat by Angelique Kerber. She is expected to be in his box if he reaches the Final.
Dimitrov said: "Us younger guys - we want that big stage. We want to prove to the older guys that we are just around the corner."
He will have that chance tomorrow when he faces Novak Djokovic in the semi final on Centre Court. The latter came through a sticky five setter with Marin Cilic in which he played with less than his usual fluency and often lost his footing on Court One. At least he found a way to win from two sets to one down.