NEW YORK, September 4, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)
There will be a first-time Grand Slam finalist in the top-half of the men’s draw at the 2019 US Open after Swiss stars Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer crashed out in the quarter-finals. In the day session, the 22nd-seeded Wawrinka lost to the fifth seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia. In the last match of the day, in the evening session, World No. 78, Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov outclassed Federer for his first-ever win over the five-time champion.
Medvedev won 7-6(6), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 to make it to his first semi-final of a Major. Earlier, the Cincinnati champion saw boos raining down on him while he took to the court for the match. And, as the match started, the 23-year-old who has been struggling with physical problems dealt with them anew in the match. He even called for the trainer in the opening set before ostensibly changing his strategy, putting Wawrinka out of his comfort zone further. The 2016 Flushing Meadows’ champion who had been dealing with flu after his win over Novak Djokovic had a set point in the opening set but could not capitalise on that. He was also left him gasping as the momentum, too, deserted him despite his third-set win.
Four sets of 🔥
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 4, 2019
The Russian, who qualified for his maiden ATP World Tour Finals as a result of this win also reached a new career high of No. 4 in the world. Speaking on-court after his win, Medvedev admitted it was a strange win. “I think we all saw that the match was really strange,” he said, “I had a really big pain in my quadriceps and I thought ‘I’m not going to continue the match’ in the first set. I saw that it was bothering Stan, because I know how it is to play an injured player…I feel really strange about this match but I need to say that I’m really happy to be in my major semi.”
Against former World No. 3 Dimitrov, the 2019 Rogers Cup finalist has a 1-1 head-to-head record. In his match against 20-time Slam champion Federer, the 28-year-old Dimitrov rallied to claim a 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 win. This was his first win over the Basel native in eight matches.
To begin the match, it was Federer who started strongly gaining an early break to take a one-set lead. However, as the match progressed, Dimitrov’s steadiness coupled with Federer’s erroneous shot-making allowed the younger player to keep himself ahead in the match. Even when Federer had taken a two-sets-to-one lead.
Across the fourth and fifth sets, Dimitrov took an early break courtesy of Federer’s continued shanking. It also became evident that the older player was dealing with back problems. And, after losing the fourth set – in which he had five break points – Federer called for a medical time-out. It did not help as Federer quickly slid down two breaks in the deciding set, and Dimitrov served it out successfully in the eighth game of the set.
In the press conference, Federer said he had had back problems coming into the match. “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,” he said.
Adding that his back injury was by-the-by and the moment belonged to his opponent, the World No. 3 said, “Yeah, but this is Grigor’s moment and not my body’s moment, so… It’s okay.”
Dimitrov has now reached the semi-finals of all Majors but the French Open. This is first semi-final since reaching the penultimate round of the 2016 Monte Carlo Masters. In his on-court interview after the win, he could not control his elation. “Only thing I kept thinking was to stay in the match, in the match. I’m just happy,” he said.
He is the lowest-ranked semi-finalist at Flushing Meadows since the United States’ Jimmy Connors reached the round in 1991, ranked 174th in the world. Before the US Open this fortnight, the Bulgarian’s win-to-loss record for the season was 1-7.