Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were untroubled, but Grigor Dimitrov was among five seeds to fall at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Federer produced an excellent performance in a straight-sets thrashing of Filip Krajinovic on Rod Laver Arena.

The Swiss great had received good news before even going on court after three seeds fell in his quarter of the draw, with Fabio Fognini only narrowly avoiding that fate.

Earlier, Djokovic dropped just seven games on his way to a thrashing of Tatsuma Ito in Melbourne.

 

FEDERER, DJOKOVIC EASE THROUGH

Having lost a set in the opening-round victory over Jan-Lennard Struff, Djokovic suffered no such setback against Ito, winning 6-1 6-4 6-2.

A record seven-time champion in Melbourne and 16-time grand slam winner, Djokovic brushed past Ito on the back of 31 winners.

Federer was even more impressive later in the day, crushing Djokovic's Serbian compatriot Krajinovic 6-1 6-4 6-1.

The 20-time grand slam champion looked in fabulous form with 42 winners and just 14 unforced errors, reaching the third round in Melbourne for the 21st straight year.

Federer will next face John Millman, who upset 31st seed Hubert Hurkacz 6-4 7-5 6-3. The Australian stunned Federer at the US Open in 2018.

 

DIMITROV AMONG SEEDS TO CRASH OUT

Dimitrov, a semi-finalist in 2017, bowed out in a surprise 6-4 7-6 (8-6) 3-6 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (10-3) loss to Tommy Paul.

The Bulgarian 18th seed went up by a break twice in the final set, but lost seven consecutive points from 3-3 in the match tie-break.

Matteo Berrettini, the eighth seed who reached the US Open semi-finals, was edged out by Tennys Sandgren 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 4-6 2-6 7-5.

Sandgren reached the quarter-finals in 2018 and will face Sam Querrey in an all-American third-round clash.

British 30th seed Dan Evans also made a second-round exit, losing to Djokovic's next opponent, Yoshihito Nishioka, 6-4 6-3 6-4.

 

CILIC, RAONIC ADVANCE AS TSITSIPAS GETS FREE PASS

Marin Cilic, runner-up in 2018, eliminated 21st seed Benoit Paire in a thriller.

The Croatian needed three hours, 33 minutes to overcome Paire 6-2 6-7 (6-8) 3-6 6-1 7-6 (10-3).

Next up for Cilic is a man he has lost to twice at the Australian Open in Roberto Bautista Agut, the Spanish ninth seed too good for Michael Mmoh 5-7 6-2 6-4 6-1.

Milos Raonic has reached at least the Australian Open quarter-finals four times and the Canadian has shown impressive form early on this year.

The 29-year-old served 19 aces in a 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory over Cristian Garin on Wednesday and next faces 2019 semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas advanced without hitting a ball after Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew due to a muscle strain.

 

FOGNINI TAKEN THE DISTANCE BY THOMPSON

It is proving to be an arduous campaign for Fognini, who surrendered a two-set lead before holding his nerve in a decisive tie-break with home hope Jordan Thompson.

The Italian was taken the distance in his first-round meeting with Reilly Opelka after losing the first two sets, and this time it was the 12th seed who almost choked on a healthy lead.

Fognini hurt himself when punching his racket in frustration and was called for a foot-fault in the fifth-set breaker, but he got the job done in a memorable 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 3-6 4-6 7-6 (10-4) triumph that took more than four hours to complete. 

Novak Djokovic vowed to "enjoy every moment" after reaching the second round of the Australian Open on an opening day that saw seeds Denis Shapovalov and Borna Coric crash out.

Djokovic started the defence of his title with a battling 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 2-6 6-1 victory over Jan-Lennard Struff at Melbourne Park on Monday.

Losing his serve three times while dropping the third set and having to edge a close tie-break in the opener meant Djokovic spent longer than he would have hoped on court, but he relished the two-hour-and-16-minute encounter.

Asked about winning his 900th Tour-level match, the second seed said: "I'm obviously very proud of all the achievements, but at the same time I try to remind myself how grateful I am to be playing this sport at a high level at this stage of my career. 

"I can't take things for granted, I'm trying to enjoy every moment. It's a New Year resolution, to enjoy more. It's easier said than done when you're on the court.

"Especially in my position, I'm expected to win all my matches, there's a lot of pressure and emotions involved. But I try to really enjoy it, the two and half hours spent on court were a lot of fun."


SHAPOVALOV AND CORIC FALL AT FIRST HURDLE

The biggest shock of the day saw number 13 seed Shapovalov fall to a four-set defeat against Hungarian world number 67 Marton Fucsovics.

Fucsovics won 7-3 6-7 (7-9) 6-1 7-6 (7-3) in three hours and 13 minutes as the highly-rated Canadian crashed out.

Shapovalov lost his temper with the umpire when he was giving a code violation for racket abuse despite it not being damaged.

"I think that's a terrible call from the [umpire]," Shapovalov said. "The rule [according to] what I know is that if I break my racket, yeah you can code me, but you can't code me for slamming it.

"I'm not doing anything and it didn't impact anyone and the racket was still intact. He gave me a warning because I did it two or three times and I think that's not the way it works."

Number 25 seed Coric was eliminated in straight sets by Sam Querrey. 

The American won 6-3 6-4 6-4 as a dreadful run for Coric, which has seen him win only one of his last 10 matches, went on.
 

FEDERER AND TSITSIPAS COAST THROUGH

Roger Federer progressed in comfortable fashion, the third seed seeing off Steve Johnson 6-3 6-2 6-2 in only 81 minutes.

Johnson only forced one break-point opportunity in the match against the 20-time grand slam and did not convert it.

Sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, the ATP Finals champion and a semi-finalist in Melbourne last year, got off to a smooth start, defeating Salvatore Caruso 6-0 6-2 6-3.

 

RAIN LEAVES MATCHES UNFINISHED

Inclement weather left a host of Monday's other first-round matches incomplete, with Reilly Opelka closing in on an upset against Fabio Fognini when play was suspended at 6-3 7-6 (7-3) 1-0.

Rising star Jannik Sinner has a 2-0 lead over Max Purcell with the third set level at 4-4, while Roberto Bautista Agut was a set up against Feliciano Lopez.

Milos Raonic is one game away from a first-round win, his match against Lorenzo Giustino all-but over with the Canadian 6-2 6-1 5-2 to the good.

An emotional Nick Kyrgios explained his motivations for donating to the effort fighting Australia's bushfires after helping his nation to victory over Germany at the ATP Cup.

Kyrgios beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4 7-6 (7-4) in Brisbane, sending down 20 aces after his pledge to give 200 Australian dollars to the bushfires effort for each service winner he hits in January.

Alex de Minaur – Kyrgios' team-mate at the event, who impressively came from a set down to defeat an ill-tempered Alex Zverev 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 – followed suit after Kyrgios tweeted his intention to help, while stars from other sports have also joined in.

Brisbane Heat captain Chris Lynn struck three sixes as he top-scored in his team's win over Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League on Friday, with each maximum worth $250 to the recovery effort.

"I don't really care about the praise too much. I just think we've got the ability and platform to do something like that," Kyrgios told Amazon Prime when asked about the movement he inadvertently started.

"My home town is Canberra and we've got the most toxic air in the world at the moment, so it is pretty sad. It's tough."

Having appeared choked up at that point, Kyrgios added: "I just chucked up a tweet and everyone got behind it. It is bigger than tennis.

"It's going to all the families, firefighters, animals, everyone who is losing homes, losing families. It's a real thing.

Australia completed a 3-0 Group F win after Chris Guccione and John Peers beat German doubles pair Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies 6-3 6-4.

In the section's other match, Canada were similarly emphatic against Greece, with Denis Shapovalov winning a pair of tie-breaks to best Stefanos Tsitsipas after Felix Auger-Aliassime demolished Michail Pervolarakis 6-1 6-3.

Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov then combined to win the doubles rubber against the same opponents, prevailing 6-2 6-3.

Great Britain and the United States both allowed leads to slip against Bulgaria and Norway respectively.

In Group C, Cameron Norrie beat world number 423 Dimitar Kuzmanov in three sets and Dan Evans made a fast start against Grigor Dimitrov to go a set up.

But Dimitrov prevailed 2-6 6-4 6-1 and he and Alexandar Lazarov triumphed after three tie-breaks against Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury in the small hours of the Sydney morning.

Taylor Fritz beat Viktor Durasovic 6-2 6-2 and John Isner had the USA in charge of the second singles rubber when he took the opening tie break versus Casper Ruud, only for two match points and a second breaker to go against him. He eventually lost, going down 7-5 in the deciding set.

Ruud and Durasovic then recovered from dropping the first set to beat Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram 10-5 in a match tie-break in Perth.

Steve Darcis and David Goffin inspired Belgium to a 3-0 Group C win over Moldova, while Daniil Medvedev's 1-6 6-1-6-3 victory against Fabio Fognini helped clinch a 3-0 victory for Russia against Italy in Group D.

Novak Djokovic will have a shot at a fifth Paris Masters title on Sunday after edging out Grigor Dimitrov in a keenly contested last-four clash.

Djokovic prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in a 98-minute encounter that neatly encapsulated the players' careers.

Talent-wise there was nothing between them, Dimitrov happy to trade fierce baseline blows with the world number one only to fall short when it really mattered.

That was particularly evident in the first-set tie-break. Dimitrov led 5-4 with two serves to come only to fire a forehand drive-volley wide at the end of an epic rally.

An unforced forehand error gifted Djokovic set point which he clinched after Dimitrov went long following another gruelling point that lasted 35 strokes.

Djokovic's level never dipped and when he broke for a 3-2 lead in the second the crowd sensed the game was up.

Dimitrov continued to fight but he could not find a way back with Djokovic refusing to yield a single break point opportunity.

The Serbian will next take on either Rafael Nadal or Denis Shapovalov.

Rafael Nadal battled past fan favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to take his place in the semi-finals of the Paris Masters.

Tsonga had displayed fine form in Paris heading into Friday's encounter, but Nadal, who is still yet to win the ATP 1000 event, had too much quality after making the breakthrough in a hard-fought first set.

While Nadal laboured at times, Novak Djokovic, who will relinquish his number one status to the Spaniard next week, had no such issues as he confidently dispatched Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Meanwhile, Matteo Berrettini – who was sent out by Tsonga in the last 32 – clinched the last remaining ATP Finals spot thanks to Denis Shapovalov's straight sets victory over Gael Monfils.

NADAL DIGS DEEP

Nadal twice had to serve to stay in the first set, but having forced the tie-break, a wonderful backhand pass paved the way for him to forge ahead.

With the serve dominating throughout set one, it was Tsonga who blinked first in the second – Nadal taking full advantage of two sloppy shots to secure a first break of the match.

Soon-to-be world number one Nadal had finally hit his stride, playing a sublime through-the-legs shot to further drain Tsonga's confidence.

Despite showing resilience to hold, Tsonga was soon a double-break down, with Nadal wrapping up a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 win when his opponent sent a desperate backhand return into the net.

 

DOMINANT DJOKOVIC HITS TOP GEAR

After struggling with illness in his opening matches, Djokovic was at his irresistible, untouchable best against Tsitsipas, who had no response to lose inside an hour.

A double break early in set one set the tone for Djokovic, who had the opener tied up in his favour inside 29 minutes.

Djokovic took just a minute longer to finish off set two, two more breaks ending any slim hopes of a Tsitsipas comeback before an overhit return from the Greek sealed his progression by an emphatic 6-1 6-2 scoreline.

 

BERRETTINI COMPLETES LONDON FIELD

With defending ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev having claimed his spot at the O2 earlier in the week, there was one place up for grabs heading into Friday's play.

The permutations were simple, with Monfils – ranked 10th in the Race for London – needing a win to take the place of Berrettini.

However, the French number one came unstuck in some style against Shapovalov, who cruised to a 6-2 6-2 triumph, and Berrettini now completes the top eight, alongside Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, Tsitsipas and Zverev.

 

DIMITROV SWAPS HALLOWEEN TRICKS FOR SEMI-FINAL TREAT

Having already knocked out Thiem, Dimitrov claimed his spot in the last four with a 6-2 7-5 triumph over Cristian Garin, ending an 18-month wait to make a semi-final at ATP 1000 level.

The Bulgarian may have had to give up his Halloween celebrations, but it was a small price to pay.

"[A fantastic week] so far, I've skipped Halloween but it's a better place to be, here on centre court," Dimitrov told Tennis TV.

Halloween may have passed, yet the world number 27 now faces the scary prospect of going up against Djokovic for a place in the final.

Roger Federer acknowledged his struggles against Radu Albot in Miami provided him with motivation for his demolition of the Romanian at the Swiss Indoors Basel.

Federer, seeking his 10th title at his hometown tournament, cruised to a 6-0 6-3 win in his second-round match, needing just 62 minutes to do so on Wednesday.

It was a stark contrast to the 20-time grand slam champion's meeting with Albot in Miami, where he had to come from a set down to win 4-6 7-5 6-3.

"I'm extremely happy because I really struggled against him in Miami and he definitely got my attention there. I was basically a point away from losing," Federer said.

"It was important for me to show a reaction to that match and come out with a proper game plan. I think I learned a lot from that match."

Federer will next face either compatriot Stan Wawrinka or Frances Tiafoe in the quarter-finals. Wawrinka beat Pablo Cuevas 6-3 6-4 while Tiafoe saw off Daniel Evans 6-4 6-2.

Taylor Fritz pulled off a shock in the first round by defeating Alexander Zverev, but he could not back that up in the second as Alex de Minaur claimed a 6-3 6-3 victory over the American. Wednesday's other second-round clash saw Jan-Lennard Struff overcome Henri Laaksonen 6-3 6-4.

Marin Cilic failed to build on his run to the Kremlin Cup semi-finals, the former US Open champion suffering a 6-4 6-4 loss to sixth seed David Goffin.

Ricardas Berankis and Filip Krajinovic were the day's other winners.

Meanwhile, at the Erste Bank Open, Matteo Berrettini bolstered his hopes of securing an ATP Finals spot with a second-round triumph against Grigor Dimitrov.

The Italian, eighth in the Race to London rankings, prevailed in a battle of this year's US Open semi-finalists 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-1), hitting 36 winners to add 45 points to his tally.

Gael Monfils kept his hopes of a spot in London alive by coming from behind to avoid an upset against Dennis Novak. The Frenchman recovered to come through 2-6 7-5 6-3 in his first-round clash.

The other second-round match in Vienna saw Karen Khachanov progress as Marton Fucsovics retired in the third set

Denis Shapovalov fell back down to earth after winning his first ATP title in Stockholm last week, losing 6-3 7-5 to Pablo Carreno Busta. Elsewhere in the draw, there were wins for Mikhail Kukushkin, Andrey Rublev and Sam Querrey.

Grigor Dimitrov recorded his 300th win on the ATP Tour by defeating qualifier Damir Dzumhur 6-3 7-5 at the Erste Bank Open.

Ten years on from his first tour-level triumph, Dimitrov came through his opening match in Vienna having fallen at the first-round hurdle last year.

He won 55 per cent of his return points against Dzumhur, who has now lost all four of his matches with the Bulgarian.

"I think it was one of those matches that I really had to go through," Dimitrov said in quotes published on the ATP Tour's website.

"I was very determined in my own game to find that rhythm. I still believe that I could have done a few things better."

His second-round opponent will be Matteo Berrettini, whose quest to reach the ATP Finals was boosted by a come-from-behind 3-6 6-3 6-4 success over Kyle Edmund.

Berrettini, currently ranked 11th in the world, saved four of the five break points he faced and did not give Edmund a sniff on his serve in the decider.

Second seed Karen Khachanov beat Hubert Hurkacz 6-4 7-6 (7-3), while fifth seed Diego Schwartzman and Marton Fucsovics also won.

Karen Khachanov thrilled the Moscow crowd as he saved five match points before overcoming veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber at the Kremlin Cup.

The world number eight, top seed and defending champion at the ATP 250 event, found himself 5-3 down in the decider but refused to buckle as Kohlschreiber eyed a notable scalp on his 36th birthday.

Khachanov – now the focus of home hopes after Daniil Medvedev's withdrawal due to fatigue - repelled three match points to force a tie-break and his calmness from the baseline saw him through more trouble to prevail 3-6 6-3 7-6 (9-7).

Andreas Seppi is up next for Khachanov after the experienced Italian similarly came from a set down to beat Roberto Carballes Baena 5-7 6-1 6-3.

Serbian fourth seed Dusan Lajovic also went the distance against Lukas Rosol, coming through 6-4 6-7 (8-6) 6-3 to beat his Czech opponent and set up a quarter-final clash against last year's runner-up Adrian Mannarino – a straight-sets winner over Mikhail Kukushkin.

Stan Wawrinka returned to action at the European Open, competing for the first time since his US Open quarter-final loss, and his troublesome knee was given a thorough workout by Feliciano Lopez.

The two seasoned campaigners provided plenty of entertainment - a sumptuous backhand half-volley at the net in the first set serving as a particular highlight from Wawrinka, who came through 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-6 (7-4).

The 34-year-old Swiss will take on Gilles Simon in the quarter-finals after the world number 47 came through his all-French clash against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 7-5.

Andy Murray will face Pablo Cuevas in round two after the eighth-seeded Uruguayan beat Hugo Dellien 6-4 6-3, while Guido Pella ensured further South American success by beating Kwon Soon-woo 7-5 7-5 to earn a quarter-final place.

Frances Tiafoe's reward for breaking a three-match losing streak, defeating Yannick Maden, will be a meeting with another German opponent in Jan-Lennard Struff.

At the Stockholm Open, US Open semi-finalist and second seed Grigor Dimitrov was dumped out by Sam Querrey, losing 6-7 (7-9) 6-3 7-6 (7-3). Taylor Fritz was another seed to fall – 7-5 6-4 against Yoshihito Nishioka,

Filip Krajinovic is up next for Nishioka after beating Dan Evans 7-5 2-6 6-3.

Roberto Bautista Agut maintained his 100 per cent record against Andreas Seppi as he cruised into the semi-finals of the Zhuhai Open on Friday.

The Spaniard made it four straight wins against Seppi, with the 6-2 6-2 result not just securing a place in the last four of the tournament but also strengthening his bid to qualify for the season-ending ATP Finals.

"My game is getting better and that's why I'm climbing in the ATP Rankings," the world number 10 told the ATP Tour website after triumphing in one hour and 19 minutes.

Bautista Agut is joined in the semis by compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who knocked out third seed Gael Monfils 7-5 6-4 to set up a clash with Adrian Mannarino - a 6-1 6-4 winner over Damir Dzumhur.

Meanwhile, Alex de Minaur came through via a deciding set for a second successive outing. Having battled back to knock out Andy Murray in the previous round, the seventh-seeded Australian triumphed 6-2 4-6 6-4 against fourth seed Borna Coric. His reward is a showdown with Bautista Agut on Saturday.

At the Chengdu Open, Alexander Bublik battled back from the brink of defeat to upset Grigor Dimitrov, denying the fourth seed a 300th career win.

Bublik - who served 35 aces - saved two match points in the tie-break to decide the second set before eventually going on to triumph 5-7 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-3). 

Next up will be South African lucky loser Lloyd Harris, who made it through to a maiden semi-final on the ATP Tour courtesy of a three-set victory over Joao Sousa.

The other side of the draw will see eighth seed Denis Shapovalov take on Pablo Carreno Busta, the pair recording respective triumphs over Egor Gerasimov and Cristian Garin in their quarter-final ties.

Andy Murray's Zhuhai Open campaign was halted in the second round as he slipped to a 6-4 2-6 4-6 defeat against a dogged Alex De Minaur.

Murray, who edged past Tennys Sandgren on Tuesday, looked in good shape when he broke twice on his way to claiming the first set, but De Minaur recovered.

The 20-year-old Australian came out on top in some riveting rallies, with a sublime drop shot in set three a highlight as Murray's lack of match sharpness handed De Minaur the edge.

De Minaur had squandered two break points at the start of the third set, though he made no such mistake to take a 5-4 lead eight games later.

Former world number one Murray kept his chances alive with some exquisite shots, only to waste three break-back points.

Having then failed to take a first match point, De Minaur made his second one count – Murray's return into the net ending a contest lasting two hours and 42 minutes as the Australian progressed to a quarter-final with Borna Coric.

Murray will turn his focus to the China Open in Beijing as the British player continues his singles comeback following hip surgery.

Greek top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas retired due to illness prior to the third set of his encounter with France's Adrian Mannarino.

Damir Dzumhur will face Mannarino in the last eight, while second seed Roberto Bautista Agut goes up against Andreas Seppi, who saved five match points in a deciding-set tie-break en route to beating Zhizhen Zhan 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-6 (10-8).

Meanwhile, Chengdu Open top seed John Isner fell at his first hurdle as the American succumbed 6-7 (11-13) 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4) to Egor Gerasimov of Belarus.

Gerasimov – who will next play Denis Shapovalov – was joined in the last eight by US Open semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov, who marked his return to action with a 7-5 7-5 victory over Britain's Dan Evans.

Canadian second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime went down 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 to Portugal's Joao Sousa, Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Frenchman Benoit Paire, while Chile's Cristian Garin dispatched Fernando Verdasco of Spain.

Grigor Dimitrov refused to be too hard on himself following a US Open semi-final defeat to Daniil Medvedev he felt was decided by the Russian's performance on a few key points.

Dimitrov sensationally knocked out Roger Federer in five sets in the quarter-finals to set up a clash with Medvedev, having come from two sets to one down to defeat the 20-time grand slam champion.

However, Dimitrov was not able to make the necessary breakthroughs when it mattered against world number Medvedev, who claimed a 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-3 victory to progress to his first major final.

Dimitrov, though, felt the match was closer than the three-set scoreline suggested, with the Bulgarian left upbeat by a run few expected when he started the tournament ranked 78th in the world.

"It was just a few points here and there. Yeah, three sets to love, but, I mean, the score for me doesn't justify the match itself," Dimitrov told a media conference.

"I think it was a good level. Overall he played really well, fought hard, a lot of the key points he played well. I don't want to be too down on myself. Great weeks. First time in the semi-final out here.

"Just going to take a lot of the positives, for sure."

Dimitrov identified the set point he spurned in the first set by clanging a forehand into the net cord and wide as a key moment in the contest.

"As I said, I just didn't play good enough on those key points, especially I think the set point in the first set, I knew what he was going to do. He came up with the goods," added Dimitrov.

"Second set, again, I was not able to get free points on my serve, or on his for that matter. He used the court pretty well.

"For sure I'm critical of myself. I think absolutely I could have done better on certain occasions. Again, I don't want to go too deep right now on myself.

"I will definitely watch the match and see if I could have done any different in any type of situations. But I think, again, a few times it was 30-All, 30-15, [he] just came up with the goods. I came up to the net, it was either a pass or a really good ball, bottom line.

"So I had to go for something very difficult. In a sense, he was provoking me to miss certain shots that I usually wouldn't miss or I would have enough time to hit a volley. Just the small details.

"I do believe I've given everything of myself out there in the match today. I still felt that I could have done something else, I just don't know what it is right now."

Daniil Medvedev's incredible US Open campaign will end in the final after he came through a tight tussle with Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-3.

Russian fifth seed Medvedev has relished the role of tournament villain he was cast in after a controversial third-round win in which he aimed a middle-finger gesture to spectators.

Medvedev has continually talked about using the negative energy to fuel him, though it is unfortunate the pantomime jeers have somewhat overshadowed a breakthrough performance from a rapidly rising star on the ATP Tour.

The boos turned to applause after he overcame injury with an unorthodox performance to knock out Stan Wawrinka and reach the semi-finals, where he flustered and frustrated a player who was sensational in eliminating Roger Federer in the last eight.

Dimitrov's run to the semi-finals was perhaps the most unexpected development of a tournament defined by surprises in New York.

However, he was unable to make any breakthroughs stick against an opponent whose movement suggested he has shaken off his thigh issue on Friday.

Medvedev completed victory in two hours, 38 minutes, with another extremely accomplished performance he will be physically ready for a first grand slam final against either Rafael Nadal or Matteo Berrettini.

Few would disagree that men's tennis is due a makeover and perhaps we are closer than ever to glimpsing its new face.

The same names are reeled off at every grand slam when talk turns to the 'next generation', and Kei Nishikori ran us through them on the first day of this US Open.

The Japanese put himself forward as a possible contender, then added: "You see [Dominic] Thiem playing finals, and I think a couple of guys are getting closer.

"Of course, Sascha [Alexander Zverev] is a great player and a couple of young guys: Felix [Auger-Aliassime], [Denis] Shapovalov, [Nick] Kyrgios, those guys who are coming up, too. Oh, yes, and [Daniil] Medvedev."

Four times a year, the debate turns to which '#NextGen' star – Nishikori is now 29 – might be able to end the slam dominance of the 'Big Three'.

Andy Murray had made it a 'Big Four' and Stan Wawrinka won three majors in three years, but the latter's Flushing Meadows triumph in 2016 was the last time one of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, three of the greatest players in history, did not win a grand slam.

There is certainly no shame in coming up short when those three represent the competition.

Federer has made his home in Melbourne and at Wimbledon, Nadal is close to untouchable on clay, and Djokovic, on his day and when fit, has the full package.

Opportunities for the rest are scarce. Thiem has been able to beat Nadal on the red dirt but not at Roland Garros, losing consecutive finals. The US Open has seen a varied cast of recent finalists, yet Djokovic has played in three of the past four deciders and won two of them.

This is the golden era of men's tennis, and yet...

Whisper it quietly, but might there be an argument that it has become a little dull seeing the same three names top the honours boards four times a year?

Can we have too much of a good thing? Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are certainly a good thing. They have done wonders for tennis with their efforts both individually and collectively.

But sport is arguably at its best when it is unpredictable, when fans come along for the ride not knowing which way it will twist or turn.

Look at the NFL or the NBA, where regular-season records count for nothing when the top seeds – like the New Orleans Saints or the Milwaukee Bucks – fall short in the playoffs. Look at the Champions League, where Manchester City, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain, try as they might, cannot turn domestic dominance into European success. Look a little closer to home at the WTA Tour.

For while men's tennis is a closed shop, the women's equivalent is anything but. Since Serena Williams completed her second 'Serena Slam' in 2015, there have been 10 different champions across 16 major tournaments.

Serena can dismantle any opponent when on top form and has at times done so this year, but the competition is healthy, the results are often unexpected.

So this year's men's US Open has been similarly refreshing.

We can all remember classic Djokovic-Federer clashes – as recently as the Wimbledon final – but Grigor Dimitrov downed the great Swiss in a New York epic, while Matteo Berrettini described his own quarter-final against Gael Monfils as "one of the best matches I've ever seen".

Seeing new faces compete at the business end of the tournament has been uplifting, with unusually early exits for Federer and Djokovic presenting opportunities for others to forge legacies.

And now, one could argue, we must have a new winner. Only Nadal, with a patchy recent hard-court record, remains of the superhuman trio. He is the favourite but surely he is beatable.

Because how quickly would a thrilling fortnight be forgotten if, come the start of next year, Nadal and Djokovic each held two slam titles? Conversely, a triumphant Medvedev, Dimitrov or Berrettini would renew hope within the locker room.

The 'Big Three' might not have long left at the top – particularly in 38-year-old Federer's case – but the 'next generation' need not wait that long to get over the hump. This looks like a fine opportunity.

"I don't have a crystal ball, do you?"

Roger Federer was terse when asked if he felt he would have more opportunities to win grand slams like the one he just let slip at the US Open, with Novak Djokovic out of the draw and the Swiss having a clear path to a potential final with Rafael Nadal.

He is right, of course. He does not have a crystal ball and neither does anyone else. However, he certainly could have used one ahead of Tuesday's match with Grigor Dimitrov, as even the most confident of fortune tellers could not have envisaged what the Bulgarian produced at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Dimitrov stands as one of a growing number of once highly regarded ATP Tour players who have been unable to live up to their potential. So lofty was the opinion of Dimitrov's considerable talents, that he was once nicknamed 'Baby Fed'.

There have been considerable highs in Dimitrov's frenetic career that justified his reputation. His 2014 Wimbledon quarter-final win over then-defending champion Andy Murray was a supremely accomplished performance against an opponent playing with the vociferous backing of the home crowd.

His 2017 run to the Australian Open semi-finals was another strong hint at a breakthrough but it again appeared to be a false dawn, and there was nothing going into the last eight at Flushing Meadows to suggest he would be able to topple Federer.

Federer had won their previous seven meetings and had looked imperious in swatting Daniel Evans and David Goffin in the third and fourth rounds, while Dimitrov was playing in his first Tour-level quarter-final since January.

Even with Dimitrov having played extremely well to win the second set, there were few inside Ashe who expected it to be little more than a blip in the five-time champion's progression to the last four, with that assessment seemingly set to be vindicated when he took the third.

Yet, as Federer later said, this was "Grigor's moment", and he made sure of that in a tremendous fourth-set performance encompassing everything that had once led to him being considered the heir to Federer's throne.

There was power, variety, excellent movement and there were passing shots, oh so many passing shots, continually thundered beyond an ailing Federer off the forehand and backhand sides.

Federer insisted he was not surprised by Dimitrov's performance.

"It's the Grigor I expected. He has returned against me in the past also a little bit further back. He has been in, chipped, come over. He has the arsenal to do all sorts of things. He used it all tonight to great effect," said the 38-year-old.

That opinion is probably only shared by Dimitrov, as the sense of shock inside the world's biggest tennis stadium was palpable as the 28-year-old wore Federer down to the extent that he had to take a medical time-out for a back injury at the end of the fourth set.

Dimitrov displayed incredible character and endurance in doing so. Service games on both sides played out as mini-dramas within a fascinating thrill ride, with the Bulgarian's desire to make Federer play as many balls as possible paying dividends in the seventh game of the fourth. 

Federer held after a game that featured eight deuces and in which he had to save seven break points. Dimitrov may have been unable to get the double break, but he knew the damage had been done.

He said: "I think even when I lost that game, I was actually smiling going through the changeover because I was [thinking], 'That game must have hurt him a lot.' For me, it actually filled me up.

"After that fourth set, I felt also he kind of needed a little bit of a break, as well. I kept on pushing through. I think in the first game in the fifth, I put so many returns back, pretty much all the returns, so he had to go. He wanted to keep the points really short. I used every single opportunity I had."

That was the difference between the Dimitrov of old and the one that stunned a hugely pro-Federer crowd, perceptiveness and patience. He knew his opponent was struggling, he knew he did not have to swing for the fences. He did not have to go for the kill, because he knew the kill would come to him.

It came in rapid fashion in the fifth set as Dimitrov secured a 3-6 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-2 triumph that will go down as one of the biggest upsets in recent memory. It was a result virtually nobody expected from the world number 78 but, regardless of what he does from here in New York, Dimitrov's shock defeat of Federer will make sure nobody doubts his ability to deliver on the grand slam stage again.

Roger Federer does not have "the crystal ball" to see how many more chances he will have to add to his grand slam tally after missing a major opportunity at the US Open.

With Novak Djokovic having exited in the fourth round, Federer looked to have a clear path through to a potential blockbuster final with Rafael Nadal.

However, he fell victim to an incredible fightback from Grigor Dimitrov in Tuesday's quarter-final, the world number 78 coming from two sets to one down to prevail in three hours and 12 minutes.

The defeat was marked by a back problem that saw Federer leave the court for treatment in the fourth set.

He returned for the fifth but never looked capable of stopping Dimitrov from marching into his third slam semi-final.

Federer has demonstrated remarkable longevity to still be competing for majors at 38 years of age. However, he conceded he let a chance go begging at Flushing Meadows this year.

"I'm disappointed it's over because I did feel like I was actually playing really well after a couple of rocky starts," Federer told a media conference.

"It's just a missed opportunity to some extent that you're in the lead, you can get through, you have two days off after. It was looking good.

"But [I've] got to take the losses. They're part of the game. Looking forward to family time and all that stuff, so... Life's all right."

Asked if he will have more opportunities to win majors, he replied: "I don't have the crystal ball. Do you?

"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."

Page 1 of 2
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.