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Executive Sports Co: Roger Federer’s US Open chances could be tested by Grigor Dimitrov
Executive Sports Co is a leading ticket providers for major sporting events around the globe, including the 2014 US Open.
Roger Federer is at such a pitch of elegant perfection this year and at this US Open that the groundswell of support for him in New York is growing by the backhand,” says Gaspari. “The second seed could hardly have ordered up a more ideal list of victims in the first week – the tough but limited Australians Marinko Matosevic and Sam Groth, with Marcel Granollers next and either the No17 seed Roberto Bautista Agut or the seasoned Frenchman Adrian Mannarino to come.”
What could possibly go wrong? Grigor Dimitrov is his name and the young Bulgarian has had a similarly smooth passage to the first weekend, easing past the American wildcard Ryan Harrison and Israel’s Dudi Sela without dropping a set, a solid preparation for his third-round match against David Goffin, who looks even younger than he does.
“If the No7 seed does not come unstuck against the Belgian – who seriously but briefly inconvenienced Federer at Roland Garros a few years ago – he will have a more searching examination against a seeded Frenchman, either Gaël Monfils (20) or Richard Gasquet (12),” says Gaspari.
His might be the slightly more difficult path to the quarter-finals, and there are few who would bet against him colliding there with Federer. It has the potential to be the classic match of the tournament: the stylish contender and the resurgent champion.
This is another chance for Dimitrov to make a serious statement at a slam, as he almost did against Rafael Nadal in Melbourne this year, while Federer has to convince the faithful that he can reproduce his heroics of Wimbledon where, against expectations, he reached the final against Novak Djokovic.
Gaspari states, “It is odd to describe Federer as defying the odds, as they have been in his favour for most of his career. However, as beautifully as he is playing, and he was superb again in demolishing Groth in three sets on Arthur Ashe on Friday night, he will not be wholly confident of his charge here until he has come through a proper test.”
If it is Dimitrov who provides it, Federer will have the comfort of a win in their only meeting: 6-3, 7-6 in the quarter-finals at Basel in 2013.
He won only one tournament in that miserable season, his worst on the tour, in a weakened field in Halle. This year, though, Federer has been in cruise control again. It must be tough for his peers of recent years – Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic – to be stretching themselves to the physical limits then see a 33-year-old father of four move through tournaments. He has won three this year as if taking the twins for a stroll in the park.
The only health issue he has had was a minor back problem that forced a seven-week sabbatical last year and he did not return with much conviction. In 2014, however, he has played tennis every bit as good as in 2012, when he won his last major, beating Murray in the Wimbledon final. After seeing off Groth in straight sets, he was asked if he considered his mystique a component in his victories. Federer replied with all the practised matter-of-fact politeness he has shown over the years: “I don’t know if it’s an advantage necessarily, because the opponent has nothing to lose. He can go out there and just go for it really because he’s not expected to win. I think it really depends on the personality of my opponent.”
“Groth, plainly, was in awe of him. It is highly unlikely Dimitrov would share those doubts. Although he is yet to break through, he is an established top-10 player who is expected to deliver sooner or later. He needs no reassuring of his ability – although beating Federer on his way to winning the US Open would do no harm,” says Gaspari.
Dimitrov has had a low-key week, shielded from serious media scrutiny by the simultaneous heroics of others. In one brief exchange with journalists, however, he was asked if he was being recognised in the streets of New York. He smiled and nodded. He is not completely anonymous.
He adds, “Federer will very much be aware of his presence across the net if they meet. After three matches apiece, there is little in it between them in performance. We will know soon enough who has it in him after such a quiet start to rise to another level. I suspect it will be Dimitrov. If it is not? Federer should reach the final, because the other quarter on his side of the draw is not so imposing. After that, the guessing starts again.”