NEW YORK • Roger Federer, betrayed by his 38-year-old body and his forehand, is done at the US Open this year.
The Swiss maestro's upper back and neck gave him trouble; he kept missing makeable shots and he kept giving away the lead against a guy he had never lost to.
It all added up to getting beaten 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 by 78th-ranked Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals before a stunned crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday night.
"Grigor was able to put me away," he said. "I fought with what I had...
"It's just a missed opportunity to some extent that you're in the lead, you can get through. It was looking good. But you got to take the losses. They're part of the game."
Chasing a 21st Grand Slam title, and sixth at Flushing Meadows, Federer appeared to be flexing his upper back after some points and said afterwards he began feeling something in that area in the afternoon.
He took a medical timeout after the fourth set, leaving the court with a trainer. When play resumed after a break of nearly 10 minutes, his form never picked up.
"He started slowing down a little bit," Dimitrov said.
"For sure, in the end, he was not 100 per cent of himself."
Federer kept contributing to Dimitrov's cause, missing shots this way and that, long or wide or into the net. The statistics were staggering and showed exactly how off the Swiss was: 61 unforced errors, 33 on the forehand side. Compare that to his 40 total winners.
And so his two-sets-to-one lead vanished.
"Start of the fourth wasn't ideal," Federer said of his ailment.
Number of unforced errors Roger Federer made in his quarter-final loss to Grigor Dimitrov.
"Start of the fifth wasn't ideal. I felt it the whole time. But this is Grigor's moment and not my body's moment, so it's okay.
"It's how it goes. I tried my best. By far not too bad to give up or anything."
Federer had been 7-0 in their head-to-head series, taking 16 of the previous 18 sets against Dimitrov, who is a decade younger and long ago was dubbed "Baby Fed" because of his similar one-handed backhand and all-court game.
And the third-seeded Federer could have become the oldest man to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since Jimmy Connors was 39 in 1991 at the US Open. He could also have claimed a berth in his record 56th career Major semi-final.
But it will be Dimitrov who will participate in a Slam final four for the third time, facing No. 5 seed Daniil Medvedev tomorrow.
The lanky Russian is into his first Slam semi-final after a 7-6 (8-6), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win over Federer's compatriot Stan Wawrinka.
In the women's draw, six-time champion Serena Williams earned her 100th win at the US Open with a brutal 44-minute demolition of Wang Qiang, firing an ominous warning to rivals in her pursuit of a record-tying 24th Slam title.
She dismantled the Chinese 18th seed 6-1, 6-0 to set up a semi-final clash with Elina Svitolina.
The Ukrainian trailblazer beat Britain's Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-4.
"It's really unbelievable, literally. From when I first started here, I think I was 16, I didn't think I would ever get to 100," Williams said.
"I didn't think I would still be out here."
ASSOCIATED PRESS, REUTERS
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