LONDON (AFP) - Grigor Dimitrov admitted Friday that even changing his shoes four times didn't change his luck as he fell, slid and slipped to a Wimbledon semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic.
The 23-year-old Bulgarian lost his footing on countless occasions on Centre Court's bone-dry, grassless baselines in his battling 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (9/7) loss to the top seed.
It forced him to constantly dip into his bag for a different pair of shoes - at one stage, he had four pairs lined up in front of his chair.
"I lost count. I had four pairs with me, five, six. Oh, good God. I don't know. I think throughout the whole tournament I changed maybe ten pairs. I think today was maybe four," said the 11th seed who was watched from his players box by girlfriend Maria Sharapova.
Despite his numerous tumbles, the 11th seed refused to blame the dry, cracked surface for his defeat.
"We were both sliding quite a bit on the court, changing shoes. When you're into that deep second week of a tournament, the grass is wearing off a little bit. So you can't really expect much else.
"But it's the same for me, it's the same for him, so we both try to overcome those kind of obstacles." Djokovic, however, believes the courts are more unstable than 12 months ago when the likes of Sharapova tumbled to defeat as did Victoria Azarenka who was forced to scratch from her second round tie because of ankle injury suffered in a fall in her opener.
"I feel like they're a little bit more than last year. But maybe it's because of the fact that we had some very warm days last five, six days or so," said the top seed.
"Also, you know, if you sweat in your feet the shoes get wet, and that can also influence the sliding and slipping on the court. That's why I always take the extra shoes, and it helped." Roger Federer, who took to the same court later Friday in his semi-final and defeated Canada's Milos Raonic, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, said he had noticed both Djokovic and Dimitrov struggling to stay on their feet but blamed it on the players' all-action styles.
"It was unbelievable how much they were sliding around. We look at these matches sometimes of Novak or Grigor and any surface they just keep sliding," said Federer.
"We were watching going, I can't almost watch this, because you've got to be very confident in the slide in what you do.
"I think they are the most extreme guys, besides maybe (Gael) Monfils, of doing that. I think that's as extreme as it's going to get, as well." But the Swiss star said the Centre Court was up to scratch when it came to semi-final suitability.
"When I came on court I realized it is somewhat slippery but normal, nothing major. Because I also thought it looks crazy slippery, but it's clearly not. It's a normal worn-out grass court like it's always been in previous years here at Wimbledon."