Dimitrov Delivers A Rotterdam Masterclass
Dimitrov, now holding a 16-1 match record this season, continued his impeccable recent form to instantly break the World No.76. However, Istomin duelled in a series of entertaining rallies to force a tie-break. The duo finished the set on 50 points apiece, but with 18 winners and 11/13 successful net points, the Bulgarian went ahead after Istomin’s only double fault.
A pair of forehand winners secured a 3-0 advantage for the 25 year old and some outstanding retrieval play built on that lead to secure his third straight victory over the Uzbekistani.
“It’s never easy when you have to face that kind of a player indoors. Denis is a great player, I played him in Australia (4R victory at the Australian Open),” said Dimitrov. “He started back then unbelievable, so my goal today was to start the match well and work my way through. I’m relieved I could finish the second set that way.”
World No. 12 Dimitrov will face David Goffin, whom he defeated in the final of the Garanti Koza Sofia Open on home soil last week, for a place in his first Rotterdam semi-final since 2013. Despite leading their FedEx ATP Head2Head 3-0 Dimitrov is determined to be fully prepared for a testing encounter.
“He’s a tough player, a great competitor. We’ve played a few times, that’s the record, but it doesn’t mean anything to me,” added the fifth seed. “I have the same amount of respect for pretty much every player I play, so I never underestimate anyone. He’s been pretty consistent over the past year or so. For sure it’s going to be a great match for us. I just need to stay focused and play my game.”
Dimitrov is adamant that his impressive start to 2017 is down to hard graft on the practice court. “There have been many matches I’ve played well in, but I don’t feel there was a turning point. I have kept working hard and I expect myself to get a bit rewarded for that at some point,” continued Dimitrov. “Even through the tough days, I was working through those days. It’s not always going to be like this on court, I will struggle in some matches for sure, I don’t shy away from that, but I play every tournament not to lose. My goals and mind-set aren’t different.”
Dominic Thiem booked his maiden quarter-final in Rotterdam with an intriguing 6-4, 7-6(4) win over Gilles Simon. Their FedEx ATP Head2Head was finely poised at 3-2 in favour of the Austrian, who fended off three break points and struck four aces to claim the opening set.
Simon, a three-time semi-finalist at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, was 4-2 down but derailed Thiem’s momentum to prolong the set with a tie-break. Second seed Thiem attacked the net for the win to set up a last eight encounter with Pierre-Hugues Herbert.