Roger Federer's ultimate act of class in heartbreaking US Open loss

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Roger Federer was done.

His back injury was so bad that he was barely running and couldn’t really serve.

But out of respect for his opponent, the 20-time grand slam champion simply refused to retire hurt.

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When Novak Djokovic knew his shoulder injury was so bad that he couldn’t continue against Stan Wawrinka 24 hours earlier, he pulled the plug and called it quits.

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

But Federer has never retired hurt in his professional tennis career - and that wasn’t about to change at the US Open on Tuesday.

Roger Federer, pictured here during the fifth set against Grigor Dimitrov.
Roger Federer could barely move in the fifth set. Image: ESPN

Federer was well on his way to a quarter-final berth when he took a two-sets-to-one lead over Grigor Dimitrov on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

But he was visibly hampered throughout the fourth and fifth sets, taking a medical timeout after the fourth and looking a shadow of his usual self in the fifth.

By all rights he should have retired hurt.

However Federer wasn’t about to take the spotlight off Dimitrov and make the final stages of the match about him.

An injury retirement would have stolen the headlines and Dimitrov’s win would have been a footnote.

And even though everyone knew Federer was injured, Dimitrov got his moment because the Swiss legend played until the final point.

Roger Federer and Grigor Dimitrov, pictured here after their clash at the US Open.
Roger Federer congratulates Grigor Dimitrov after their match. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Federer: ‘This is Grigor’s moment’

Some would say Federer’s stance is silly and risks further injury.

But surely he’s well aware of that.

“This is Grigor’s moment and not my body’s moment,” Federer said in the post-match press conference.

“I’ve got to take the losses, it’s part of the game and I am looking forward to family time.”

After slumping to 78th in the rankings following seven defeats in eight matches entering the season's final grand slam, Dimitrov is just one win away from a maiden grand slam final.

Dimitrov, ranked No.3 in the world after winning the 2017 season-ending championship, now has a huge opportunity to progress to his first grand slam final.

He faces world No.5 Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals on Thursday after the Russian ended Wawrinka's quest for a second title at Flushing Meadows.

with AAP

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