Dimitrov Squeezes Past Hurkacz For SF Spot
The Bulgarian kept his focus to clinch a dramatic final set in a tie-break and upset Hubert Hurkacz on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the ATP Masters 1000 event for the second time.
The World No. 29 dug deep in the face of a strong comeback from 11th seed Hurkacz to clinch a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) victory and reach an eighth Masters 1000 semi-final.
The win takes Dimitrov to an 11-6 match record for the 2022 season. If he reaches the final in Monte Carlo he should reclaim a spot in the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings on Monday, with the Bulgarian already projected to rise to No. 23 following Friday's win. But the former World No. 3 is refusing to look too far ahead.
“I am just going one day at a time," said Dimitrov in his on-court interview. "I’ve put in the work — that’s all I’ve done. I’m not even thinking of how I’m playing or anything like that, I just want to [do] a lot of work.
"The season on clay is not that long so you just want to keep on building, and that’s all I’m doing right now. Of course, if I would have lost that match it would have been disappointing, but at the same time I wouldn’t be too down on myself because I’ve been doing the right things.”
Dimitrov produced trademark moments of brilliance against Hurkacz for an excited crowd on Court Rainier III, but was just as happy to do the dirty work against an opponent who particularly found his range in the second and third sets.
The win backs up Dimitrov’s impressive third-round win over clay-court tour de force Casper Ruud. He will now attempt to reach a third Masters 1000 championship match in a semi-final clash with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, after the Spaniard defeated Taylor Fritz 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 earlier on Friday.
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Hurkacz came into the match off the back of impressive wins over renowned dirtballers Pedro Martinez and Albert Ramos-Vinolas, but the Pole struggled to settle in the first set against Dimitrov. The Bulgarian took full advantage, pulling his opponent around the court to great effect and sealing the only break of the set to love in the third game.
World No. 11 Hurkacz found a much higher level in the second frame. The Pole broke for 4-2 and sealed the set with consecutive drop shots that caught his opponent off-guard.
Neither player gave an inch in a tense deciding set and the pair exchanged breaks twice, but it was Dimitrov who found something extra at the death. The Bulgarian hit with variety in the tie-break to force a frustrated Hurkacz into a series of errors as the 2017 Western & Southern Open champion clinched victory in two hours, 27 minutes.
"In the end I think it was very tough for both of us," said Dimitrov. "I think physically we were both feeling well but I felt like I was staying on top the whole time and I was putting a lot of pressure [on him]. I think that may have been the difference.”
“All I could say to myself was just to put the ball in the court. I knew every time I was able to put the ball in the court and was getting in the rally, I feel like I was making him very uncomfortable. His serve was amazing, especially in that second set, so I really had to stay calm, to be honest.”
The pair’s sole previous tour-level meeting had also been a Masters 1000 quarter-final decided with a final-set tie-break, Dimitrov also prevailing on that occasion at the 2021 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. With the win, Dimitrov moves to a 20-8 record at the Monte Carlo event. Four of his defeats in the Principality have come against 11-time champion Rafael Nadal.