Roger Federer yesterday overcame a lingering sickness to hold off Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-4 and take his title defense into the semi-finals at the Brisbane International.
Federer delayed his opening match at the Australian Open warmup until the fifth day because of a flu-like illness and was playing Dimitrov in the quarter-finals on less than 24 hours rest.
His serve in the first set was almost flawless, dropping just two points, and he appeared to be on course with break point chances for another straight set victory over the young Bulgarian — sometimes likened to him because of their similar styles — before Dimitrov rallied.
After wasting a chance to serve for the second set in a nervous 10th game, Dimitrov dominated the tiebreaker and forced a decider.
Federer, after showing signs of fatigue in the second set, took a quick break before the third, and then went on a roll to set up three match points in the ninth game. Again Dimitrov rallied, winning five consecutive points and forcing Federer to serve it out — which the 17-time major winner duly did.
By holding off Dimitrov, who is 10 years his junior, Federer set up a meeting with 22-year-old Dominic Thiem, the youngest player in the top 20.
Thiem beat third-seeded Marin Cilic 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4. The other semi-final match is to feature last year’s finalist Milos Raonic against Bernard Tomic.
Tomic ended Kei Nishikori’s streak of semi-final appearances at the Brisbane International with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 win, his first over a top 10 player on home soil.
Tomic fired nine aces in the first set and broke in the eighth game, but Nishikori, the 2014 US Open finalist, won five straight games in the second to level the match and maintain his hopes of reaching the Brisbane semi-finals for the fourth straight year.
After an exchange of breaks early in the third, Tomic clinched it on his first match point, avenging a loss to Nishikori last year.
“That was very, very special to me,” Tomic said. “Last year, unfortunately, I lost very comfortably to Kei, and today played very different.”
Raonic relied on his big serve to dictate a 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 78-ranked Lucas Pouille.
On the women’s side, fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber moved into the Final by beating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-3. Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka and US qualifier Samantha Crawford played the other semi-final match.
The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang. The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said. “The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June
Taiwan Steel on Sunday grabbed three points with a narrow 1-0 win against Hang Yuan FC, to move into the No. 2 spot on the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL) log, while Taipower FC beat NTUS 2-0 to maintain first place. Taking advantage early in the match of opposition defenders who had not yet settled down, Taiwan Steel’s attacking trio of Wu Chun-ching, Marc Fenelus from the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Benchy Astama from Haiti pushed forward with good passes. After only one minute of play, Fenelus dribbled from the right flank, feeding a short pass inside the penalty area to
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational
STAYING COOL: Hamilton said that his ‘heart nearly stopped’ when he noticed the puncture, but he kept going to beat Alain Prost’s total of six home wins in France Lewis Hamilton said he feared he might not make it home when a last lap puncture almost derailed his charge to a record seventh British Grand Prix victory on Sunday. “I didn’t think I would make it round the last two corners,” the world champion said. The front left tire of his Mercedes had delaminated and deflated on his final lap, leaving the six-time world champion to nurse his vehicle to the finish as second-placed Max Verstappen hunted him down. “I just can’t believe it,” Hamilton said. “It was heart-stopping. I backed off and stayed chilled and was so glad it happened on