Tennis

Dimitrov stuns Federer to reach U.S. Open semifinals

Federer gave away a lead against a guy he'd never lost to and was beaten 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 by 78th-ranked Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals before a stunned crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday night.

Serena Williams needs just 44 minutes to down quarter-final foe

Roger Federer reacts after missing a point during the fifth set against Grigor Dimitrov during the quarter-finals. (Charles Krupa/The Associated Press)

Betrayed by his 38-year-old body, and his forehand, Roger Federer is done at the U.S. Open.

Federer's upper back and neck gave him trouble, he kept missing makeable shots and he kept giving away the lead against a guy he'd never lost to. It all added up to getting beaten 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 by 78th-ranked Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals before a stunned crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday night.

"Grigor was able to put me away," Federer said. "I fought with what I had."

Chasing a 21st Grand Slam title, and sixth at Flushing Meadows, Federer appeared to be flexing his upper back after some points and said afterward that he began feeling something in that area in the afternoon.

He took a rare-for-him medical timeout after the fourth set, leaving the court with a trainer. When play resumed after a break of nearly 10 minutes, Federer's form never picked up.

"He started slowing down a little bit," Dimitrov said. "For sure, in the end, he was not 100 per cent of himself."

WATCH | Federer upset by Dimitrov:

World number 78 Grigor Dimitrov defeated Roger Federer in a five-set battle on Tuesday. 1:12

Federer kept contributing to Dimitrov's cause, missing shots this way and that, long or wide or into the net.

The stats were staggering and showed exactly how off Federer was on this evening: 61 unforced errors, 33 on the forehand side. Compare that to his 40 total winners.

And so his two-sets-to-one lead vanished.

"Start of the fourth wasn't ideal," Federer said. "Start of the fifth wasn't ideal."

Federer had been 7-0 in their head-to-head series, taking 16 of the previous 18 sets against Dimitrov, who is a decade younger and long ago was dubbed "Baby Fed" because of his similar one-handed backhand and all-court game.

And the No. 3-seeded Federer could have become the oldest man to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since Jimmy Connors was 39 in 1991 at the U.S. Open. He could have claimed a berth in his record 56th career major semifinal.

"Just disappointed it's over, because I did feel like I was actually playing really well after a couple of rocky starts," Federer said. "It's just a missed opportunity, to some extent."

He joins Novak Djokovic on the sideline less than two months after their epic five-set Wimbledon final. Defending U.S. Open champion and No. 1 seed Djokovic retired from his fourth-round match in New York because of a painful left shoulder.

Grigor Dimitrov pumps his fist after winning a point against Roger Federer during the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open on Tuesday. (Charles Krupa/The Associated Press)

That leaves No. 2 Rafael Nadal as the only member of the Big Three still in the draw. He meets No. 20 Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals Wednesday, when No. 13 Gael Monfils plays No. 24 Matteo Berrettini.

Dimitrov will participate in a Slam final four for the third time, facing No. 5 seed Daniil Medvedev on Friday.

Dimitrov has struggled for much of 2019, failing to even get to a quarter-final anywhere since Week 1 of the season. And it's been nearly 1 1/2 years since Dimitrov reached a semifinal at any tour-level event, let alone a major.

His Grand Slam results have been trending in the wrong direction, too: from a loss in the fourth round at the Australian Open to the third round at the French Open to the first round at Wimbledon.

So his ranking, as high as No. 3 a couple of years ago, is nowhere near that now. His coaches, Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek, aren't anywhere near Flushing Meadows, either.

They opted to stay away from the tournament. Asked why, Dimitrov hemmed and hawed.

It's certainly working so far.

Williams easily moves on

Serena Williams was not troubled one bit by the right ankle she rolled in her previous match. Didn't get much resistance from her opponent, either.

Looking as dominant as can be, Williams moved just fine and powered her way into the U.S. Open semifinals by overwhelming 18th-seeded Wang Qiang of China 6-1, 6-0 in a mere 44 minutes Tuesday night to move closer to a 24th Grand Slam singles trophy.

Williams had rolled her ankle during her fourth-round match but never showed any signs that it was an issue.

"Physically, I'm feeling great," Williams said, "and more than anything, I'm having fun every time I come out here."

WATCH | Williams makes it look easy, advances to semis:

Williams defeated Wang Qiang 6-1, 6-0 to collect her 100th-career win at the U.S. Open. 1:17

Why shouldn't she? When she plays like this, it's hard to imagine anyone else ending up with the championship Saturday.

Williams grabbed the first five games in about 15 minutes. Then, after dropping one game, Williams collected the next 11 points in a row and every remaining game.

Just one indication of how lopsided this was: Williams finished with 25 winners to zero for Wang, who was playing in her first major quarter-final. One other: The total points were 50-15.

Williams collected her 100th match win at Flushing Meadows, where she is a six-time champion.

Will face Svitolina next

"From when I first started here ... I never thought that I would get to 100. Didn't even cross my mind I would still be out here," said Williams who turns 38 later this month. "But I love what I do."

The American will face No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine for a berth in the final. Svitolina eliminated 16th-seeded Johanna Konta of Britain 6-4, 6-4 earlier Tuesday.

"She's had a great year, as well," Williams said. "I feel like she wants to go one further this time, so I have to be able to come out again and play really well."

WATCH | Elina Svitolina wins quarter-final in straight sets:

Elina Svitolina beats Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-4, advances to 2nd Grand Slam semifinal of her career. 1:21

With her boyfriend, Gael Monfils, watching in the stands, a day before he plays his quarter-final, Svitolina got to the semifinals at a second consecutive major tournament after never having been that far before.

"Now," Svitolina joked about Monfils, "he needs to step up his game."

No. 13 Monfils of France takes on No. 24 Matteo Berrettini of Italy, and Rafael Nadal meets No. 20 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina on Wednesday, when the women's quarter-finals will be No. 13 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland vs. No. 23 Donna Vekic of Croatia, and No. 15 Bianca Andreescu of Canada vs. No. 25 Elise Mertens of Belgium.

Medvedev tops Wawrinka

The No. 5-seeded Medvedev thought he might need to quit early in the first set of his quarter-final after pulling a muscle in his upper left leg. His opponent, three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka, never believed Medvedev would stop. Wawrinka was right. And now Medvedev, the best player on the men's tour on hard courts in recent weeks, is headed to his first Grand Slam semifinal.

Medvedev has drawn plenty of attention at Flushing Meadows for the way he sarcastically thanked booing crowds, trolling them by suggesting their venom was reason he kept winning. Now maybe folks will pay more attention to the 23-year-old Russian's unusual brand of shape-shifting tennis, which carried him past Wawrinka 7-6 (6), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 despite 12 double-faults and a body that's just short of breaking down.

WATCH | Medvedev advances to 1st career Grand Slam semifinal:

Daniil Medvedev defeats Stan Wawrinka in 4th sets, moves on to U.S. Open semifinals. 1:09

Asked how he'd describe his relationship with the fans in New York, who jeered him when he was introduced in Arthur Ashe Stadium but offered cheers later, Medvedev replied: "I have two words. First one, for sure, `electric,' because it's electric. And second one, `controversy."'

"So many people like my interviews. So many people don't like me," he said with a smile. "I can just say: I try to be myself, guys."

Reprising his professional wrestling persona briefly, he added, "I have to say, `Sorry, guys.' And, `Thank you,"' and then he laughed.

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