SPANISH matador Rafael Nadal crushed Andy Murray’s Wimbledon dream in a relentless display of brilliance tonight.
The No 2 seed swept through to the semi-finals against the shattered Scot who could not produce a second dramatic comeback within 48 hours.
Murray walked into the interview room a short while ago – and vowed to return next year a better player in his quest for the men’s singles title.
“This was definitely the best Wimbledon I’ve had so far,” he told us.
“I’m sure next year I’ll be able to do even better.
“It’s been a positive tournament for me. I can improve so many things in my game – pretty much every part of my game.
“It’s up to me I make sure I go and do that.”
There was hardly an empty seat to be found on Centre Court as Murray walked out at 6.04pm.
Rafa, being Rafa, finally emerged from the locker room several paces behind.
Murray got a deafening cheer. But, if anything, Nadal received a louder ovation.
Sadly, there were few signs of the Highland Warrior seen in his epic five sets victory over France’s Richard Gasquet on Monday.
Murray looked tired and flat after that four-hour thriller, giving fans little to cheer, despite one cry of: “It’s Murray time.”
It clearly wasn’t.
An increasingly frustrated Murray, 21, smashed his racket into the ground as he was overpowered in straight sets 6-3 6-2 6-4.
He later denied tiredness had been a factor.
“I didn’t feel my legs were all that heavy.
“But I obviously would have rather gone into the match having won an easier match against Gasquet, but that had absolutely no bearing on the result at all.”
Nadal, 22, said: “It probably was my best match here.”
Asked what part of his game he was happy with, he replied: “Everything.
“After the normal beginning, a little bit nervous, I start playing well, no?”
He also predicted that Murray has a good chance of one day winning the title and being one of the top five players in the world.
Murray admitted Nadal was in a different league this evening.
“He played so much better than me. I didn’t feel like I played my best, which is a bit disappointing.
“But regardless, he was playing too well for me.
“His forehand was ridiculous. I felt rushed on every point.
“He’s hitting the ball – it’s amazing how fast he moves his arm and how much control he has over it. I had no chance at all, really, on his serve.”
Although he looked dejected, Murray can be proud of his efforts in reaching his first Grand Slam quarter final.
As he left the arena, he turned and waved one last time, his thoughts already turning to Wimbledon 2009.
“It’s been a positive tournament for me.
“I got further than my ranking and seeding suggested. I’m going to be back in the top 10 at the end of the week – and now I’ve got to try and stay there.”
And he again paid tribute to the fans, including thousands camped out on Henman Hill.
“”They got right behind me. Unfortunately, I didn’t really give them enough to shout about.
“But hopefully next year I’ll come back and do a bit better.”
*Stockport’s Naomi Broady, 18, is through to the quarter finals of the girls’ singles. She defeated Austrian No 12 seed Nikola Hofmanova, 17, in straight sets 7-6 6-2.