Tennis

Roger Federer suffers another heartbreak in quest for 21st Major title

Swiss great loses five-set marathon to unseeded Dimitrov

Fresh from a heart-breaking loss at the All-England Tennis Club, the abrupt end to Roger Federer's US Open campaign yesterday morning (Singapore time) raised questions whether the 38-year-old can deliver a record-extending 21st Grand Slam title.

Federer had hoped to shake off the agony of his most recent Wimbledon final, where the top prize slipped through his fingers and into the arms of frequent rival Novak Djokovic after he failed to convert two championship points.

But the unseeded Grigor Dimitrov thwarted the effort in Flushing Meadows in a five-set marathon, leaving a puzzled crowd to wonder if the Swiss will ever again hoist a Grand Slam trophy.

"I don't have the crystal ball. Do you?" quipped the third seed, after a reporter asked if he expected to win another Grand Slam title at his age.

"We never know. I hope so, of course. I think still it's been a positive season.

"Disappointing now, but I'll get back up, I'll be all right."

He batted down suggestions that his Wimbledon performance this year played a role in his surprise US Open upset.

"I didn't think of it. If you move on, it's a thing of the past. I do remember playing good semis there, so it wasn't bad. If I think of that, I'm, like, really happy," he said.

For Federer, nothing is out of the question - and not without precedent: The oldest man to win the US Open title was Bill Larned, who was 38 years, 8 months and 3 days old when he triumphed.

Of course, that was in 1911.

And past precedent is likely little comfort for Federer, who laid out for reporters an aggressive schedule of future competition.

"Laver Cup, Shanghai, Basel, maybe Paris, London. That's the schedule for now," he said.

"I don't know if the team have other ideas or not.

"I'm happy to get a bit of a break now, go back to practice, reassess and attack from there."

NEXT CHANCE

In four months, he'll renew his effort to add to his Grand Slam coffers at the Australian Open, where he collected his last title last year.

"(I have) got to take the losses. They're part of the game," said Federer.

"Looking forward to family time and all that stuff, so... Life's all right."

Dimitrov will meet 23-year-old Russian Daniil Medvedev, who reached his first Grand Slam semi-final after defeating Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (8/6), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

In the women's draw, Serena Williams claimed her 100th win at the US Open in style.

The 37-year-old dismantled her quarter-final opponent Wang Qiang 6-1, 6-0 in a blistering 44-minute performance that ended any questions over a twisted ankle from the previous round.

"I never thought that I would get to 100," Williams said after the match, reflecting on the two decades she's spent playing at Flushing Meadows.

"It's so special. I never want to let it go."

The eighth-seeded American joins Chris Evert as the only two players to log at least 100 victories at the tournament.

Williams is now only one behind Evert's mark.

Her semi-final opponent will be fifth seed Elina Svitolina, who defeated Britain's Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-4 in the quarter-finals. - REUTERS

Tennis