Dimitrov Beats Fellow Nitto ATP Finals Contender
Bulgarian star plays former finalist Nadal on Friday
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov further strengthened his bid for a place at the Nitto ATP Finals on Thursday by reaching the Shanghai Rolex Masters quarter-finals at the expense of American Sam Querrey, another contender for next month’s season finale.
Sixth seed Dimitrov recorded his 40th match win of a career-best year (40-16 overall) with a 6-3, 7-6(3) victory over No. 10 seed Querrey in 81 minutes at the Qi Zhong Stadium in Shanghai. He will next challenge top seed and 2009 finalist Rafael Nadal in Friday’s quarter-finals.
“Today was a pretty similar mindset [to yesterday’s win over Ryan Harrison], playing against a big server who uses the court a lot,” said Dimitrov. “Sam is an extremely trick player. The first game of the match, I was two break points down. I was thinking, ‘Wow!’ He was serving pretty good and controlling the baseline. For me it was finding that rhythm around the court and after the first set, I knew I had everything in my control. He still pushed me. When the tie-break started, I felt more in control of the rallies.”
Dimitrov is currently at No. 5 in the Emirates ATP Race To London with 3,455 points, and is now 270 points behind fourth-placed Austrian Dominic Thiem (3,725). Querrey remains at No. 11 with 2,525 points. Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev have already clinched three of the eight berths at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 12-19 November.
The 26-year-old Dimitrov broke Querrey in the fourth game of the pair’s third FedEx ATP Head2Head series (3-0), but could not convert three set point opportunities on the American’s serve at 5-3. Querrey took a 2-0 lead in the second set, but was immediately pinned back and there were no further chances to break through to the tie-break.
Dimitrov has won three ATP World Tour titles in 2017 at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp (d. Nishikori), Garanti Koza Sofia Open (d. Goffin) and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati (d. Kyrgios).
Another player who is hoping to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, Croatia’s Marin Cilic, one spot behind Dimitrov in the Emirates ATP Race To London (3,355 points), moved into the last eight with a 7-6(1), 6-4 victory over American Steve Johnson in 88 minutes. Cilic lost just five of his first-service points (32/37) and is now 38-16 on the season, which he hopes ends in London next month.
Cilic, who has previously qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals in 2014 and 2016, will next face Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain, who overcame German Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6(4), 6-4 in 87 minutes.