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.
Transgender athletes are to have an ally in the White House next week, as they seek to participate as their identified gender in high school and college sports — although state legislatures, the US Congress and the courts are all expected to have their say this year, too. Attorneys on both sides say they expect US president-elect Joe Biden’s Department of Education to switch sides in two key legal battles — one in Connecticut, the other in Idaho — that could go a long way in determining whether transgender athletes are treated by the sex on their birth certificates or by
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