Grigor Dimitrov knew he had hurt Roger Federer during the fourth set and was delighted with the progression of his game plan even after missing a chance to break during their US Open thriller.
Dimitrov pulled off one of the most incredible shocks in recent grand slam history as he came from two sets to one down to defeat Federer and progress to the semi-finals.
Federer left the court for treatment on his back at the end of a fourth set won by Dimitrov, which featured a mammoth seventh game in which the Bulgarian had seven break points.
There were eight deuces in the game and, though Federer clung on to hold serve, Dimitrov felt it helped him achieve his goal of wearing down the 38-year-old.
“I was very happy even though I lost the game. I did exactly what I wanted to do,” Dimitrov told a media conference.
“I didn’t know to what extent his injury was or whatever was bothering him. But I think even when I lost that game, I was actually smiling going through the changeover because I was [thinking] ‘that game must have hurt him a lot’. For me, it actually filled me up.”
He added: “I tried to use that negative sort of situation into my positive. After that fourth set, I felt also he kind of needed a little bit of a break, as well. I kept on pushing through.
“The first game in the fifth, I put so many returns back, pretty much all the returns, so he had to go. He wanted to keep the points really short. I used every single opportunity I had.”
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Asked when he realised Federer was in trouble, Dimitrov replied: “Obviously I started seeing in the fifth. Even if I would have gone two sets to love down, I wouldn’t have given up.
“I would still stay on the court and just try to do as much as possible to make sure that I rattle him or put him off balance.
“I kept on pushing, I kept on believing. I was hitting I think very good shots, playing good tennis. That got me through the line.”
Dimitrov had lost all seven of his previous meetings with Federer prior to his 3-6 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-2 success at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I was more present, to be honest,” Dimitrov said. “I was more of myself throughout every point, every game that I played. In the past, it’s always been very hard to play against him. He always came out pretty fiery, made an early break.
“I felt very comfortable from the first point, despite the fact that I was missing a little bit here and there. I had a few opportunities. I kept on believing in what I had to do, in my game plan. I was moving really well. I was hitting my backhand pretty good, changing up the shots.
“One of the only things for me was try to keep him as much as possible on the court. I did that very well.”