Dimitrov Moves Closer To London Bid, Advances To Semis
The sixth time was the charm for Nitto ATP Finals contender Grigor Dimitrov, who took six match points to defeat veteran left-hander Mischa Zverev, 6-3, 6-4 at the Intrum Stockholm Open on Friday, moving closer to securing his spot at The O2 in London.
“Very happy with it. It’s nice to get through that match in straight sets,” Dimitrov said. “I knew it was not going to be easy but at the same time I thought I kept a very good intensity throughout the whole match.”
Dimitrov, still No. 6 in the Emirates ATP Race To London, now has 3,500 points, moving to within 35 points of No. 5 Marin Cilic, who is not in action this week. The 26-year-old, who is into his seventh tour-level semi-final of the season, will move into fifth place in the Race if he advances to the final.
While it took six chances to close out the victory, Dimitrov showed calm under pressure against the serve-and-volleying left-hander, hitting tough passing shots in key moments to claim the advantage that allowed him to get through.
As Zverev served at 2-3 in the first set, facing a 15/40 deficit, Dimitrov stabbed at a backhand return crosscourt, forcing the German to miss a backhand volley and concede the break. The top seed faced little trouble in closing out the set. And after the left-hander could not handle a ball that skipped off the baseline at 3-3, 30/30 in the second set, Dimitrov fought off a jamming second serve with a forehand return that Zverev volleyed into the net to gain the break advantage.
While the 2013 champion could not capitalise on his first five match points on Zverev’s serve, he served out the match, eliminating the veteran with a backhand volley.
The Bulgarian will next face sixth seed Fabio Fognini, who saved two match points to outlast third seed Jack Sock 6-7(3), 7-6(2), 7-5 in a back-and-forth two-hour, 51-minute marathon.
Fognini, who is attempting to claim his second title of the season (Gstaad, d. Hanfmann), advanced to his fifth semi-final of the year.
After breaking immediately in the third set and holding to go up 2-0, it appeared that the Italian was in control against his higher-ranked opponent. But the American took advantage of a frustrated Fognini to break back in a 14-point game to level the deciding set at 3-3.The 30-year-old faced two match points on his serve at 4-5, but was able to survive and broke in the next game as Sock failed to put a first serve in play.
He had no problem with this break of serve, closing out the match at love when Sock dumped a return into the net.
Throughout the battle, it was a matter of whether or not Fognini would be able to survive an onslaught of the American’s forehands to take control of points himself. And in the key moments, it was Fognini who found opportunities to turn defense into offense with a dazzling display of shotmaking.
Dimitrov leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Fognini 3-2, with the Italian winning their last match on home turf at the Internazionali BNL D’Italia in 2015.