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Roger Federer stunned by Grigor Dimitrov at U.S. Open

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NEW YORK — Roger Federer shanked. He took an off-court medical timeout for treatment on his upper back and neck. He straight up stopped playing on one point. Federer was anything but himself, falling in five sets in the U.S. Open quarterfinals on Tuesday night.

Grigor Dimitrov, a former world No. 3 whose ranking has fallen to a seven-year-low 78, pulled off the stunner 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to make his third Grand Slam semifinal and his first since January 2017.

“[Federer] kind of started slowing down a little bit,” said Dimitrov, the lowest-ranked U.S. Open men’s semifinalist Jimmy Connors was No. 174 for his memorable 1991 run at age 39. “For sure at the end he was not 100 percent.”

Dimitrov, whose game was so similar to the Great Swiss that he was nicknamed “Baby Fed” years ago, was 1-7 in his last eight matches going into the U.S. Open and 0-7 against Federer in his career.

Federer’s U.S. Open ended five days earlier than expected. With Novak Djokovic out, his path was open to the final, potentially against Rafael Nadal for the first time at Flushing Meadows.

“Just disappointed it’s over because I feel like I was actually playing pretty well,” said Federer, who finished his two previous matches in a crisp 79 and 80 minutes, respectively. “Just a missed opportunity to some extent.”

Instead, Dimitrov gets No. 5 seed Daniil Medvedev in Friday’s semifinals. Nadal is the only man left in the draw who has made a Grand Slam final. He plays Argentine Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals on Wednesday night.

Federer was all over the place Tuesday night, reminding everyone of his age (38). He dominated at times, reeling off highlight shots. He sprayed balls into the seats at others with 60 unforced errors.

He took a rare medical timeout, leaving the court for several minutes before the final set. Then he dropped the next four games, a hole he could not climb out of.

“This is Grigor’s moment and not my body’s moment,” Federer said. “I fought with what I had.”

It all means that Federer failed to win a Grand Slam in a calendar year for the first time since 2016. His lead in the career Slam titles count is more precarious than ever.

He has 20. Nadal is at 18 and now heavily favored to get to 19 (and to at least 20 before next summer). How many more chances will Federer get to win Slams?

“I don’t have the crystal ball,” he said.

U.S. OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

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World champion wins doping case citing bodily fluids from boyfriend

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A world champion canoeist won a doping case Monday after persuading a tribunal that her positive test was caused by bodily fluid contamination from her boyfriend.

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) ended its investigation into 11-time world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe, who tested positive for a steroid-like substance in July. She faced a four-year ban and could have missed her event’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games.

The Canadian canoe sprint racer and her lawyer detailed in a news program that laboratory analysis of hair from her then-boyfriend showed he was likely responsible for a tiny presence of ligandrol in her doping sample.

“The ICF has accepted Ms. Vincent Lapointe’s evidence which supports that she was the victim of third-party contamination,” the governing body said in a statement, clearing her to return to competition.

The legal debate is similar to tennis player Richard Gasquet’s 2009 acquittal in the “cocaine kiss” case. The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted Gasquet’s defense that kissing a woman who had taken cocaine in a Miami nightclub, after he had withdrawn injured from a tournament, caused his positive test.

The 27-year-old Vincent Lapointe was provisionally suspended for almost six months and missed the 2019 World Championships, which was a key qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics. American 17-year-old Nevin Harrison won the 200m world title in her absence.

She can still qualify for the Olympic debut of women’s canoe sprint events with victory at a World Cup event in May in Germany.

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U.S. women’s soccer team begins Olympic qualifying, which should rest on one match

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The U.S. women’s soccer team has never been in danger in Olympic qualifying, but that doesn’t change this fact: It must win on Feb. 7 to reach the Tokyo Games.

The CONCACAF tournament begins Tuesday in Houston, where the world champion Americans face world No. 72 Haiti. The last two group games are against No. 68 Panama on Friday and No. 37 Costa Rica on Feb. 3. The top two nations from the group advance to Feb. 7 semifinals.

The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup team, is here.

Since CONCACAF qualifies two nations to the Olympics, the semifinals are the deciding games.

Should the U.S. win its group, it would face the runner-up from the other group in a winner-goes-to-Tokyo match. The other group (world ranking):

Canada (8)
Mexico (37)
Jamaica (53)
St. Kitts and Nevis (127)

Chaos could result in the unlikely event that either the U.S. or Canada finishes second in its group, and the two North American powers play a semifinal.

The U.S. is undefeated in Olympic qualifying history, since the tournament format began in 2004 — 15-0 with a goal differential of 88-1 (not counting matches played once they’ve already clinched qualification). The lone goal allowed came in a group-stage match in 2008, when the U.S. was already assured a spot in the semifinals.

Still, the U.S. knows the feeling of one poor outing in an important match. In 2010, it lost to Mexico in a winner-to-the-World Cup match. The U.S. was forced to win a last-chance, home-and-home playoff against a UEFA team — Italy — for the last spot in the World Cup.

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