Grigor Dimitrov notched his first win over Roger Federer in eight attempts to move through to the semifinals of the US Open.
Trailing two sets to one, Dimitrov stunned the No.3 seed 3-6 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-2 at Arthur Ashe Stadium to set up a meeting with breakout star Daniil Medvedev.
The Russian earlier on Tuesday advanced to his first major semifinal thanks to a four-set defeat of 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka.
Dimitrov, currently ranked No.78, arrived at the US Open having lost seven of his most recent eight matches. One of those defeats came to 409th-ranked qualifier Kevin King in the first round of Atlanta.
But he has turned things around in a big way this fortnight at Flushing Meadows, reaching a third Grand Slam semifinal after doing so at Wimbledon in 2014 and the Australian Open in 2017.
The former world No.3 also had a woeful head-to-head record against Federer, entering the match having won just two sets in seven career losses to the Swiss star.
Federer says problem was upper back, started during the day — felt it the entire time, but "it's Grigor's moment, not my body's moment."
— Kamakshi Tandon (@Kamakshi_Tandon) September 4, 2019
“Even if I would have gone two sets to love down, I wouldn’t have given up,” Dimitrov said.
“I would still stay on the court and just try to do as much as possible to make sure that whether I rattle him or put him off balance.
“I kept on pushing, I kept on believing.”
Dimitrov came through an epic fourth set which featured several long games, including the seventh, where Federer saved an incredible seven break points to hold for 3-4.
Federer then held five break points of his own when Dimitrov served for the fourth set, but the Bulgarian dug himself out of a 0-40 hole to take the match to a fifth.
Federer: ‘I feel low, you know. Just disappointed as I thought I was playing well. Thought if I could get through I’d have two days off. I was playing with it (the back injury) the whole time, but I was able to play.’
— David Law (@DavidLawTennis) September 4, 2019
“I was trying to stay in that game and make him stay on the court as much as possible,” said Dimitrov.
“After that he started slowing down. It’s a best of five sets. Anything can happen.”
Federer then left the court for a medical time out, later revealing he received treatment for an upper back issue.
Dimitrov ripped through the final set, building a 4-0 lead and serving out the match four games later.
He finished the match with 41 unforced errors, to Federer’s 60.
Once Novak and Stan were out, it looked like it was possibly lining up to be a Nadal-Federer final. After their long rivalry, amazingly Rafa & Roger have never played at @usopen
— Tracy Austin (@thetracyaustin) September 4, 2019
Many fans and pundits had expected a Federer-Rafael Nadal clash in the final, after Novak Djokovic was eliminated from Federer’s half of the draw and four top-10 seeds were ousted from Nadal’s half earlier in the tournament.
But again, they will miss an opportunity to face off for the first time in New York.
“I just needed some treatment on my upper, what is it, back, neck. Just needed to try to loosen it up, crack it and see if it was going to be better,” Federer explained of his injury timeout.
“But this is Grigor’s moment and not my body’s moment, so it’s OK.
“Just disappointed it’s over because I did feel like I was actually playing really well after a couple of rocky starts. It’s just a missed opportunity to some extent that you’re in the lead, you can get through, you have two days off after. It was looking good.
“But you got to take the losses. They’re part of the game.”
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