Dimitrov Surges Into Sofia Semis
Bulgarian delights home crowd with straight-sets win
Home favourite Grigor Dimitrov delighted the Bulgarian fans as he reached the semi-finals of the Garanti Koza Sofia Open with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over last year’s runner-up, Viktor Troicki, on Friday.
“I was feeling the ball a little bit better, serving well and returning great, so all of those things helped me out there against Viktor,” said Dimitrov. “It’s the first time for me to be in the semi-finals here, so it’s hard not to be excited. It’s been a long time since I’ve played in front of a home crowd and they’ve been crazy all week, so I’m just trying to take it in and enjoy every moment."
The Haskovo native is contesting an ATP World Tour event in Bulgaria for the first time and has returned home to a hero's welcome after reaching the Australian Open semi-finals, where he pushed Rafael Nadal all the way in an exhilarating five-set battle. Dimitrov was given a scare in his opening match on Thursday night against Jerzy Janowicz, eventually prevailing 7-5 in the third set, before a more straightforward victory over Troicki.
The 25-year-old Dimitrov is set to play in front of a sell-out 12,000-strong crowd this weekend at the Arena Armeec Sofia when he faces Nikoloz Basilashvili. The Georgian player continued his outstanding week in Sofia by overcoming a slow start to defeat eighth seed Martin Klizan 0-6, 6-3, 6-3. This is Basilashvili’s second time in an ATP World Tour semi-final, having finished runner-up this past July in Kitzbuhel (l. Lorenzi).
Second seed David Goffin surged into the semi-finals with a 6-1, 6-3 victory in an all-Belgian clash with Steve Darcis, his nation’s Davis Cup hero who beat Philipp Kohlschreiber and Alexander Zverev this past weekend.
Goffin, a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open last month (l. to Dimitrov), credited his aggressive tactics for pulling him through the contest, which intensified in the second set. "I started the match really well," said Goffin. "In the second set it was a close match. I had five break points to save and I also had some opportunities that I didn't take.
“When you win the first set 6-1, you always expect a reaction from your opponent. I managed it very well. I served and volleyed when I had to win the point and it helped me a lot to win the second set. I'm pleased to be in the semi-finals."
For a place in his seventh ATP World Tour final, Goffin will face defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut, who improved to a 5-0 record at this ATP World Tour 250 tournament with a 7-5, 7-6(5) victory over Gilles Muller. Bautista Agut, who beat Troicki in the 2016 final, takes a 2-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record into his clash with Goffin.