Dimitrov To Battle Isner In Cincy Semis
Grigor Dimitrov is one win away from his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final after a commanding 6-2, 6-1 win over Japan’s Yuichi Sugita Friday at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. Dimitrov has now reached four semi-finals at the ATP World Tour’s premier tournament level, but is yet to reach a title match at the 1000s.
The Bulgarian broke World No. 46 Sugita at the beginning of the first set to race to a 3-0 lead and twice at the beginning of the second set to surge ahead 5-0. He lost just five points on serve and did not face a break point.
En route to victory, the seventh-seeded Bulgarian pulled off a spectacular diving hot shot volley, showing plenty of grit even when comfortably ahead a set and 4-0.
"It's a good feeling, for sure," said an elated Dimitrov in press. "It's a good feeling. I like playing in Cincinnati. I love that centre court, as well. I think all that brings me good memories and just a positive way of thinking when I come out there on the court.
"I think that was about it, to be honest. I didn't think I did anything spectacular except playing the game the right way today. Just glad to get off court for about an hour. Save some energy and prepare for tomorrow.
"It was just one of those days that you just had to adjust to the conditions. I just had to adjust a lot to the conditions. It was pretty swirly out there. I knew what I had to do against him. From the first point, I think I was on top of the game. That carried me on throughout the whole match."
Dimitrov will next play 2013 runner-up John Isner in Saturday's semi-finals. By reaching the semis, Dimitrov moves ahead of Andy Murray into eighth spot in the Emirates ATP Race To London. With fifth-placed Stan Wawrinka and seventh-placed Novak Djokovic having announced that they won’t play again this season, Dimitrov is well placed to grab one of the eight spots at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he is hoping to make his debut at the season-ending event.
Sugita was appearing in his first Masters 1000 quarter-final. The result may seem him surpass his career-high Emirates ATP Ranking of No. 43 on Monday.
Later on Friday, Isner moved past countryman Jared Donaldson 7-6(4), 7-5 in one hour and 30 minutes. The big-serving American launched 25 aces, while claiming an impressive 90 per cent of first serve points.
It was a serving paradise on a warm late afternoon at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, with both players combining to create just one break chance. That would be all Isner needed, breaking for 6-5 in the second set and closing it out with an ace one game later. The World No. 19 will bid for a second appearance in the Cincinnati final, following a runner-up finish in 2013 to Rafael Nadal.
Isner will face Dimitrov for just the second time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head, following a second round victory at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Miami in 2015. This time, much more is at stake for both competitors, with the 32-year-old American seeking a fourth appearance in a Masters 1000 final and the 26-year-old Bulgarian eyeing his first.
"It was a tough match," said Isner. "I knew it was going to be very tough. I thought the conditions were tricky. There were certainly some shadows on the court and it was pretty windy as well.
"I think for me it made it tough to really go for my shots, but having said that, I think my footwork was a bit off, because the ball wasn't sitting in the spot that I expected it to be. But all in all, I'm happy to eventually have won that match. I think I was pretty fortunate.
"Moving on to tomorrow, I should be feeling good. Just looking forward to that. Against Grigor, he's playing well this week. He's won some matches pretty easily. I think physically both of us should be coming into this match both feeling pretty good, not too haggard. We both should have a lot of confidence as well. So it's going to be a tough match. Very well could be my toughest match. It's one that I'm looking forward to and I know he is."
Donaldson, meanwhile, will leave Cincinnati with his head high after the #NextGenATP reached his first ATP World Tour quarter-final. The 20 year old is in the midst of an impressive US Open Series, having claimed a pair of straight-set scalps over Top 20 opponents in Montreal and Cincinnati, defeating Lucas Pouille and Roberto Bautista Agut respectively.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Earlier this season, Dimitrov captured 5th and 6th ATP titles respectively at Brisbane (d. Thiem, Raonic and Nishikori) and Sofia (d. Goffin)
- Dimitrov broke back into Top 10 of Emirates ATP Rankings on July 17 for the first time since February 23, 2015