Monfils Fights Off Dimitrov To Reach Miami QFs
Frenchman uses nine aces to come back for the win
Gael Monfils saw a career-best showing within striking distance and grabbed it Tuesday night at the Miami Open presented by Itau.
Monfils broke Grigor Dimitrov at 4-3 in the third set and served out their fourth-round match at love to come back from a set down and win 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3. Monfils has now beaten Dimitrov three consecutive times. He advances to the quarter-finals in Miami for the first time in his 12-year career.
The Frenchman had lost in the fourth round three times prior. In the final eight, he'll play Japan's Kei Nishikori, who routed Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 6-4 in 84 minutes on Tuesday night.
Nishikori won his only prior meeting with Monfils 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 (Halle 2014).
"Kei is a very good player. He has been very consistent," Monfils said.
Monfils entered the fourth-round match against Dimitrov with a 3-1 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry. But the Bulgarian looked to be picking up where he left off on Monday, when he beat World No. 2 Andy Murray in three sets.
Dimitrov won the first set. In the second, though, Monfils raised his game. The 29 year old broke Dimitrov twice and never faced a break point. In the third, he again broke the No. 26 seed twice and had the upper hand against Dimitrov during their extended rallies, including a 46-stroke rally. About 20 per cent of their points during the match lasted longer than nine shots, and Monfils won more than 60 per cent of those longer points.
Nishikori steamrolled Bautista Agut, hitting 22 winners and breaking the Spaniard four times. During Bautista Agut's third-round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the Spaniard was broken just two times in three sets.
"It was a great match for me," Nishikori said. "I played the way I wanted to play."
Bautista Agut served well, landing 77 per cent of his first serves. But he never got going from the ground, spilling 23 unforced errors to eight winners.