It hasn’t been a perfect performance from Roger Federer, but the third seed is now one set away from doing enough to move into the semi-finals of the US Open for the 11th time. Federer leads Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 after one hour and 44 minutes.
The 38-year-old Swiss wasted little time gaining an advantage in Arthur Ashe Stadium, breaking the Bulgarian in his first return game en route to a 3-0 lead. And the 102-time tour-level titlist, who qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for the 17th time with his first win in New York (d. Nagal), won the battle of first-set rallies that were four shots or less by a margin of 23-15.
But Dimitrov did not let Federer to gain another early lead. Instead, the first-time US Open quarter-finalist broke for 4-2, using his variety and changing the rhythm in rallies enough to throw Federer off his game. And although he failed to serve out the set at 5-3, returning the break of serve with a double fault into the net, Dimitrov remained undeterred.
At 30/30 in the next game, the former World No. 3 blasted a passing shot slightly to Federer’s backhand side, and the Swiss failed to manoeuvre to the ball with his forehand volley. On his first set point, Dimitrov evened the match when the Swiss mishit a cross-court forehand well wide.
Federer had what appeared to be a golden opportunity to confidently regain the momentum in the match at 2-2 0/40 in the third set. But a string of errors allowed Dimitrov to wiggle out of trouble. The Swiss earned another break chance at 3-3, but this time the Bulgarian double faulted.
Dimitrov did not drop his head, earning two chances to get back on serve in the next game. But the winner of 298 tour-level matches wildly missed a good look at a forehand pass, then was unable to return a big serve from Federer, who went on to break again to close out the set.
FedEx ATP Head2Head series. and he had won seven consecutive sets in the matchup.
On the other hand, World No. 78 Dimitrov is trying to continue to what has been a resurgent tournament. Dimitrov arrived at Flushing Meadows having lost seven of his previous eight matches. But if he is able to defeat Federer, the 28-year-old will reach his third Grand Slam semi-final.
The winner will face in-form Russian Daniil Medvedev, the fifth seed. Medvedev, who won his first ATP Masters 1000 title last month at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, defeated Stan Wawrinka in four sets.
Did You Know?
Federer dropped just nine games total in his previous two matches before facing Dimitrov. His 80-minute victory against Daniel Evans in the third round and 79-minute win against David Goffin in the Round of 16 remain the two shortest completed matches of this men’s singles event.