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Nadal Last Of Big 3 Left Standing After Federer Follows Djokovic’s Exit Out Of U.S. Open Tennis

By Ricky Dimon

And then there was one.

Well, six players remain in the men’s singles draw at the U.S. Open. But, improbably, only one of those six is a member of the prestigious Big 3. Rafael Nadal stands alone in that department after Roger Federer got upset by Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals on Tuesday night.

Federer’s loss followed a third-set retirement by Novak Djokovic, who trailed Stan Wawrinka two sets to love in their fourth-round contest on Sunday.

“Not much,” the 38-year-old Swiss said when asked what it meant to have two of the big three gone from the tournament.

Federer did not have much left in the tank for a fifth set against Dimitrov after taking a medical timeout just prior to fifth for an upper-back and/or neck issue. The 20-time major champion got somewhat close to the finish line leading two sets to one and battling admirably in the fourth, but a dramatic service hold by Dimitrov late in the penultimate set gave the underdog Bulgarian momentum he would not relinquish.

Dimitrov broke serve right away in the decider and Federer at that point was in no physical condition to mount a comeback.

“I felt very comfortable from the first point, despite the fact that I was missing a little bit here and there,” the world No. 78 assessed. “I had a few opportunities. I kept on believing in what I had to do, in my game-plan. I was moving really well. I was hitting my backhand pretty good, changing up the shots. One of the only things for me was try to keep him as much as possible on the court. I did that very well. A lot of long games. Yeah, clearly in the end he was not at his best. I used every opportunity I had.

“This is Grigor’s moment,” Federer pointed out. “Not my body’s moment, so… it’s okay…. (I) had a little bit (of the injury) this afternoon. That’s it. 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. Grigor was able to put me away. I fought with what I had. That’s it.”

And while that’s it for two of the Big 3 in New York, Dimitrov advances to a surprising semifinal showdown against Daniil Medvedev. The hottest player on tour, who reached finals in Washington, D.C., Montreal, and Cincinnati (champion), beat Wawrinka in four sets earlier on Tuesday.

“I haven’t looked that closely,” Dimitrov said of Medvedev. “I’ve just seen him a little bit in the background here, how he has played. Clearly he’s doing something right. Again, it’s not going to be an easy match. I have a good day tomorrow and here we go again.”

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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