Roger Federer

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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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Serena Williams holds opponent to 0 winners, into U.S. Open semifinals

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NEW YORK — Has Serena Williams ever been this dominant? She held 18th seed Wang Qiang to zero winners in a 44-minute 6-1, 6-0 victory in the U.S. Open quarterfinals on Tuesday night.

Make it 100 U.S. Open match wins for Williams, who by the way had 24 winners Tuesday. She said that when she debuted here in 1998, at age 16 (and won the title the next year), she never would have imagined reaching the century mark.

“It didn’t cross my mind that I would still be out here,” she said.

Wang, who will be ranked in the top 15 after the U.S. Open, was asked afterward what surprised her the most in her first match against Williams (and her first time playing at Arthur Ashe Stadium).

“Power,” she said. “I cannot handle it. Just too much for me.”

The most important numbers: 24 (Williams is two wins from a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title) and one (Williams is looking for her first tournament title since becoming a mom).

She gets the highest seed left in the draw, No. 5 Elina Svitolina, in Thursday’s semifinals. The eighth-seeded American showed no affects from rolling her right ankle in the fourth round on Sunday.

Williams, who has made the semifinals of 10 straight U.S. Open appearances, is now one U.S. Open match win shy of Chris Evert‘s record 101. She is 100-12 all-time at Flushing Meadows.

She is also the only woman among the quarterfinalists who has Grand Slam final experience. Perhaps that will help her after losing all three of her Slam finals since returning from life-threatening childbirth last year.

“I”m definitely more ready than last year, although I thought I was playing really well last year,” Williams said. “After a small hiccup this year, I’m starting to play a little bit better.”

Svitolina, the highest-ranked woman yet to reach a Slam final, dispatched British 16th seed Jo Konta 6-4, 6-4 earlier Tuesday. Svitolina beat Williams in their last meeting at the Rio Olympics.

In men’s action Tuesday, fifth seed Daniil Medvedev became the first Russian man to make a Grand Slam semifinal since Mikhail Youzhny at the 2010 U.S. Open. Medvedev took out 2016 U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (6), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Medvedev gets Roger Federer or Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals.

U.S. OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

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Roger Federer, undecided on Olympics, may need help to be eligible

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NEW YORK — Roger Federer doesn’t know if he wants to play a fifth Olympics in Tokyo. He doesn’t know if he will be eligible.

“Who knows if I’ll have a chance to play,” Federer said before the U.S. Open, according to his apparel sponsor, Uniqlo. “We shall see.”

Asked to clarify on Sunday, Federer said he hasn’t determined his summer 2020 schedule this far out. The Olympic tennis competition starts two weeks after the Wimbledon final.

“As I don’t know if I will be playing, I don’t know the requirements, it was hard to give a proper answer,” Federer said. “I don’t know if I’m actually going to do it or not because it all depends on family, on scheduling, on body, on future. I don’t know. We’ll see.”

There’s also the fact that Federer does not meet an eligibility requirement of having played Davis Cup in recent years. He last suited up in 2015.

But there are exceptions. An International Tennis Federation spokesperson said last week that a national federation can appeal on behalf of a player who does not meet Davis Cup requirements, taking into account considerations including a past commitment to the Olympics (which Federer clearly has).

A Swiss Tennis Federation spokesperson then said that its president has been in talks with Federer. Should Federer request the federation to apply for an exemption, it will do it “without doubt.” That came as no surprise to Federer.

“Naturally it’s always going to be a possibility for me to play Tokyo if there is an exemption,” he said.

An Olympic singles gold medal is the biggest missing prize from Federer’s collection, but he has repeated that he is content without it.

“It’s not my No. 1 goal, or my No. 2 goal,” Federer said in 2016, four months before withdrawing due to injury from what would have been his fifth Olympics in Rio. “It’s just something I’ve said, maybe I can reach that tournament and then see how it goes.”

Federer, 38, would break Swede Jonas Bjorkman‘s record as the oldest Olympic singles player since the sport was readded to the Games in 1988. Several players in their 40s played Olympic tennis in its previous iteration between 1896 and 1924, according to the OlyMADMen.

Federer debuted at the Olympics in Sydney 2000 as a 19-year-old without an ATP title to his name.

He did well to reach the quarterfinals, losing to Tommy Haas, but said in 2016 that losing two medal matches was “the most disappointed I’ve ever been in my tennis life.” More importantly, Federer met future wife and fellow Swiss Olympic tennis player Mirka Vavrinec in Australia and kissed her on the last day of the Games, sparking their relationship.

Federer entered the 2004 Athens Games ranked No. 1 but was upset in round two by 79th-ranked Tomas Berdych (who went on to a strong career but looks set to retire later this year).

At Beijing 2008, Federer was stunned by American James Blake in the quarters and ended a record 237-week run as world No. 1. Rafael Nadal took gold and the top spot. Federer did, however, leave with an Olympic gold medal in doubles with Stan Wawrinka.

Federer looked primed for a gold-medal singles run at the 2012 London Games, considering they were played at Wimbledon, where he had won seven titles. But he was swept in the final by Andy Murray, whom he had beaten in four sets in the Wimbledon final a month earlier.

“Don’t feel too bad for me,” Federer said that day. “It’s not front and center in my mind. But, of course, I’d love an Olympic gold in singles. But I am very happy with an Olympic silver in singles.”

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