Roger Federer drops U.S. Open quarterfinal to Grigor Dimitrov after encountering back and neck problems
After having been up two sets to one, Roger Federer ducked out of the U.S. Open quarterfinals in five sets to Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 2-6.
At the end of the fourth set, Federer took a medical time out and left the court with a physio trainer. He returned to finish the match, but the problems that were present before still seemed to plague him and he never looked fit to challenge.
“Well I just needed some treatment on my upper… what is it… back, neck,” Federer said after the 3:12-minute match. “Just needed to try to loosen it up, crack it and see if it was going to be better.”
After the match, Federer said that the issues began in the afternoon before the match, but didn’t seem particularly alarming.
“Had a little bit this afternoon. That’s it,” Federer said. “I was able to play. It’s okay. It’s how it goes. I tried my best. By far not too bad to give up or anything.”
Federer started off the match in fine form, hitting clean, powerful groundstrokes and serving well as he outgunned an extremely game Dimitrov in extended rallies and easily held serve. Federer won the set in 29 minutes.
But in the second set, unforced errors began to creep into Federer’s game, most noticeably in his forehand.
At 5-4 on his serve, Federer was up 30-0 before he committed two unforced errors on his forehand to open up the game for Dimitrov. After Federer misjudged a volley to give Dimitrov a break point, Federer sprayed another forehand to give up the set.
Federer bounced back to take the third set, and used his serve to keep points short, but the unforced errors remained. Federer, who had 61 unforced errors in the match, had already committed 24 of them by the fourth game of the third set. But he still managed to break Dimitrov twice, who committed 41 unforced errors of his own in the match, and take the set 6-3.
By the fourth set, Federer was committing an alarming number of errors on all his shots, and his serve had become less effective as the match wore on. He only had six aces the entire match — his fewest of the tournament — and had no aces after the third set.
It was at this point that Federer received treatment on his back.
After getting broken in the first game of the fifth set, Dimitrov’s path to victory was merely a formality and he put the set — and the match — to rest in 33 minutes.
The loss is a disappointment for Federer, who had a somewhat favorable path to the Final after No. 1 seed Novak Djokovich had to drop out of the tournament with an ailing left shoulder. Had he defeated Dimitrov, he would have faced No. 5 seed Daniil Medvedev in the semis, and could have potentially faced No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal in the final.
“Just disappointed it’s over because I did feel like I was actually playing really well after a couple of rocky starts,” Federer said.
And he was. Federer’s previous four matches were not the most taxing from a physical standpoint, and he spent less than three hours on the court in his last two matches combined.