The big three has now become the big one.
Roger Federer became the second top player to be knocked out of the U.S. Open.
Grigor Dimitrov, a Bulgarian who is ranked 78th in the world, knocked off the 20-time Grand Slam winner, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, Tuesday night in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open.
Federer’s loss, coupled with Novak Djokovic’s exit in the round of 16, makes Rafael Nadal the clear favorite to win the tournament.
Federer, who took a medical timeout before the fifth set, seemed to be experiencing pain in his back.
“My main goal was to make him stay on the court as long as possible,” Dimitrov said. “It’s best of five . . . anything can happen.”
The win was an incredible triumph for Dimitrov, the man once dubbed “Baby Federer.” Dimitrov, once ranked No. 3 in the world, had struggled with injuries this year. Just last month, he lost to a player ranked 405th in the world.
He becomes the lowest-ranked grand slam semifinalist since No. 94 Rainer Schüttler at Wimbledon in 2008.
Dimitrov will face No. 5 ranked Daniil Medvedev, who defeated No. 23 seed Stan Wawrinka earlier Tuesday.
Few predicted that Dimitrov would have a chance to take on Federer in the quarterfinals this year. Dimitrov had only reached one quarterfinal this year — in Brisbane, Australia — as a shoulder injury forced him to withdraw from four tournaments.
Even fewer would have predicted that Dimitrov would be able to take one of the greatest players to play the game to five sets, let alone win. Federer entered the match a perfect 7-0 against Dimitrov, having won 16 of the 18 sets they have played.