Andy Murray admitted there was little he could do to combat the awesome power of Roger Federer as the Swiss cruised to a straight-sets win over the British No 1 to reach a 10th Wimbledon final.
Murray was bidding this fortnight to win his second title at the All England Club and looked in excellent form heading into the semi-finals.
However, Federer outclassed the Scot to win 7-5 7-5 6-4 and book a showdown tomorrow with Novak Djokovic.
Federer was aggressive from the outset and served brilliantly on Centre Court, offering Murray only one break point in the opening game, before breaking his opponent at the end of each set.
“I definitely don’t feel like I played a bad match,” Murray said.
“He served fantastic, apart from the first game where I had the chance there.
“I didn’t really have any opportunities. That puts pressure on you. The pressure builds throughout the set that way.
“Obviously I got broken right at the end of all the sets, but I didn’t actually play a bad match. I played pretty well.”
Federer set a new record by reaching 116 consecutive service holds in the previous round, before being broken for the first time in the tournament – but to no avail – by Gilles Simon.
And the No 2 seed was dominant again, producing 20 aces against Murray, who is considered one of the best returners in the sport.
“That’s definitely the best he’s served against me,” Murray said.
“Sometimes the stats come up on the court. He was serving like 80 per cent in the first set, then he was in the high 70s for most of the match.
“When he was missing the first serves, I was winning over half of the points.
“But I don’t know how many times in the match he missed two first serves in a row, it wasn’t very often.
“It’s tough to gain much momentum that way.
“I’ll have to have a think about it, because maybe I could have returned better, but it did feel like he served extremely close to the lines.”
Despite defeat, Murray has “bigger and better things around the corner”, according to Tim Henman.
Former British No 1 Henman has urged compatriot Murray not to suffer too long in defeat.
“Andy played some great tennis but he came up against perhaps the greatest player of all time and he realises that there’s plenty more opportunities ahead of him,” Henman said of 2013 Wimbledon champion Murray’s loss.
“He’s got Davis Cup against France next week and I hope that he doesn’t dwell on (defeat) too much because right now his game, I think, is as good as it’s ever been and there are going to be a lot of bigger and better things around the corner.
“Murray will be bitterly disappointed but when he reflects on his performance I just really don’t think he did much wrong.”
Former Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick believes Murray will cope with his latest Federer defeat far better than those of the past.
Federer thrashed Murray 6-0 6-1 in November’s ATP World Tour Finals in London, but the British world No 4 has launched a steady recovery since. When it came to a Wimbledon rematch however, 17-time major champion Federer inflicted another painful defeat on Dunblane native Murray.
Three-time Wimbledon finalist Roddick marvelled at Federer’s fulsome serving statistics, hot on the heels of his record 116-game streak of holding serve.
“Two things which is a sure tell: Roger’s service percentage, we were harping on about it during the match, it was up over 75 per cent, on the heels of 73 per cent the last round,” Roddick said.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen his serve in a rhythm like this.
“Also just his ability to flatten out the backhand, take it up the line; that’s not normally a shot, as great as Roger Federer is, it’s normally not a shot we associated with his game.
“When he’s doing that, he’s supremely confident.
“Andy Murray’s serve speeds were as high as they’ve been throughout the whole tournament, up over 120 pretty consistently.
“It’s not like he was just spinning it in to get the point started, he was hitting his serves pretty well.
“He was up over 70 per cent first serves also for most of the match.
“It’s just a testament to how good Roger Federer is seeing the ball right now: it must look like a basketball for him.”
Defending champion Djokovic powers past Gasquet: Page 3.