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Raonic and Dimitrov reach Rome semi-finals

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Originally published on 16/05/14

On his 23rd birthday, Dimitrov booked a place in his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final with victory over Tommy Haas, who retired with a shoulder injury after losing the first set 6-2.

Raonic, also 23, was made to work much harder for his second Masters 1000 semi-final appearance as he battled past Roger Federer’s conqueror Jeremy Chardy 6-3 5-7 6-2.

The Canadian, who was broken for the first time in the tournament by Chardy, will now face either Novak Djokovic or David Ferrer in the last four.

“I'm happy with a lot of things I did, especially getting myself back on track and playing a good third set. That was very important for me, being able to finish the way I did,” he said.

“I don't think clay will be my best surface, but I think it can come close. I like having the time. I've just got to not doubt my game plan in tough moments, like at the end of the second set where I got a little bit too defensive. I've got to keep my foot on the pedal, play aggressive and try to dictate as much as I can. I think the clay can be good for me.”

Raonic has reached a Masters 1000 final once before in Montreal but this is new ground for his fellow young gun Dimitrov.

The Bulgarian looked in fine touch before Haas' retirement as he rattled off 10 winners and made just five unforced errors in the opening set. He will now face either Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray for a place in the final and could break into the top 10 in the world if he wins the tournament and Raonic loses his semi-final.

"It was one of the most memorable days of my life," said Dimitrov. "I was just talking to my team, it's my first win on my birthday, so it feels good. It's a bit unfortunate, the way it ended up. But I'm just a happy birthday boy today.

"I don't want to stop my progress here [in the semi-finals]. I've come to the tournament with good health and good confidence. It's a nice way to bounce back from last week, that was the most positive thing for me. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's match."

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