Dimitrov Gets Better Of del Potro In Cincinnati Heat
Players struggle in windy and hot conditions
Grigor Dimitrov recorded his first win in his sixth match against Juan Martin del Potro on Thursday for a place in the Western & Southern Open quarter-finals.
Seventh seed Dimitrov advanced to his eighth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final (or better) with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over del Potro, who struggled due to the intense heat in the closing stages of the pair’s sixth meeting that lasted one hour and 39 minutes.
"He's a tricky opponent... a super-experienced player," said Dimitrov. "I definitely had to stay away a little bit from that forehand. I knew if I keep the ball low on his backhand side and just kind of work my way into the court, it would have been the right thing to do.I think I did this thing very, very well today. The short slice really made him very uncomfortable, and he was giving me a lot of short balls, so I could start moving him with my forehand. It was also a bit of a mind game, because we know our game pretty well."
Dimitrov will now look to reach the Cincinnati semi-finals for the second straight year when he challenges Japan’s Yuichi Sugita. Dimitrov won their lone match at last year's Masters 1000 tournament in Canada over three sets.
"He's been playing really well," said Dimitrov. "I watched quite a few of his matches... The conditions don't really bother him. He's going to be definitely a tough opponent to play. I don't underestimate his ability to play good tennis. [When] you're in the quarter-final of a Masters 1000 anything can happen. He's pretty determined, and he's pretty excited to play, so that makes him even more dangerous."
Dimitrov got off to the best possible started by opening up a 3-0 lead against del Potro, who was unable to convert one break point on his Bulgarian opponent’s serve at 3-5, 30/40. Del Potro mirrored Dimitrov by winning the first three games of the second set and could not convert three set point chances at 5-4, before the Argentinean physically began to struggle. A doctor was called at the 6-5 changeover, with del Potro insisting he had to finish the match.
Dimitrov is now 31-14 on the season, which includes two ATP World Tour titles, and improves his chances of rising up from his current position of No. 9 in the Emirates ATP Race To London for a debut appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 12-19 November. Del Potro, the 2012-13 Cincinnati semi-finalist, is now 18-11 on the year.
Sugita, five spots off his career-high of No. 43 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, reached his first Masters 1000 quarter-final in a career-best year with a 6-7(0), 6-3, 6-3 victory over #NextGenATP Russian Karen Khachanov in two hours.
Two months ago, the 28-year-old Japanese No. 2 captured his first ATP World Tour title at the Antalya Open (d. Mannarino), adding to three ATP Challenger Tour crowns won in 2017.