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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, January 8, 2016

 
Roger Federer

Defending champion Roger Federer dispatched Grigor Dimitrov, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-4, to set up a Brisbane semifinal against Dominic Thiem.

Photo credit: Brisbane International

Roger Federer continues to take talented young opponents and advancing age in stride.

Grigor Dimitrov grew up looking up to Federer and was on level terms with him after two sets today. The Swiss stared down the explosive Bulgarian with a confident close.

Video: Federer Supersizes

Asserting his all-court style, Federer won 27 of 35 trips to net dispatching Dimitrov, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-4, in a high-quality Brisbane quarterfinal.

The serve was a key stroke to success. Federer won 20 of 23 points played on his serve in the final set. He converted three of 11 break points and faced only one break point in the match.

"It was tough. I thought it was an exciting match," Federer said. "Grigor is a great shot-maker; the future is ahead of him in the game. Somehow he got off to a great start in the breaker and deserved that one. In the third set it was close."

The young guns keep coming and Federer continues to shoot them down. The 34-year-old Swiss raised his record against opponents born in the 1990s to 40-3.




The match was a rematch of the 2015 Brisbane semifinals, which Federer won 6-2, 6-2. Dimitrov took a set from his tennis hero for the first time in four meetings today, but Federer restored order playing a dynamic decisive set.

The top-seeded Swiss will face another talented young player with a one-handed backhand, Dominic Thiem, for a place in his third straight Brisbane final.

"He's a great shotmaker himself; he's got one of the strongest one-handed backhands we have in the game," Federer said of Thiem. "He's also up and coming. I practiced with him last year in Switzerland and I was very impressed with what I saw. It's gonna be tough."

The eighth-seeded Thiem rallied past third-seeded Marin Cilic, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, in a two-hour victory.

"(It) was a very good match from me," said Thiem. "Today (was) a big test. (I played a) bad first set where he destroyed me, but then I'm really happy about the win."

The defending champion won 20 of 22 points played on his serve building a one-set lead.

Moving fluidly and striking down the line, Dimitrov broke for 4-3 on a netted forehand from Federer. Dimitrov backed up the break at love. Serving for the set, Dimitrov landed just two first serves. Federer swooped in blocking a forehand volley to break back for 5-all




Shaking off the lapse, Dimitrov opened the tie break with a mini break, slashed an ace for a 3-0 lead and earned triple set point when Federer coughed up his only double fault of the day. On his second set point, Dimitrov drilled a backhand down the line at Federer's feet, earning his first set against Federer.

Federer used the chip-and-charge return to draw a netted backhand and break for a 3-2 lead in the decider. Thumping an ace down the middle, he held at 15 extending the advantage to 4-2.

Credit Dimitrov for continuing to scrap. The Bulgarian fought off triple-match point to hold in the ninth game when Federer netted a drop volley.

As new coach Ivan Ljubicic watched intently from his box, Federer closed a quality two hour, seven-minute victory at love.

"I think I started to serve a little bit better (in the third set)," Federer said. "Maybe he didn't have his best finish today, but I enjoyed it. Maybe you guys (did) too; who knows?"


 

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