Dimitrov Claims First Win Over Nadal

Bulgarian scores upset win in China Open quarter-finals

Grigor Dimitrov broke his losing streak against second seed Rafael Nadal in their quarter-final on Friday at the China Open, scoring his first victory against the Spaniard in eight tries with an impressive 6-2 6-4 performance.

“I'm pretty happy with that win. I'm not going to lie. I've played Rafa quite a few times. So many times I was close or a couple times I was cramping. There was just always something happening,” said Dimitrov. "Today, I just played an excellent match. Simple as that. There's not much else to say except that I'm proud. A lot of the work is paying off.”

The victory gives the Bulgarian has third Top 10 win of 2016, having already defeated Andy Murray at the Miami Open and Stan Wawrinka at the Western & Southern Open. Dimitrov is looking to reach his third final of the year, with previous runner-up showings at the Apia International Sydney and the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open.

“If I want to get to the top, meaning not just to enter the Top 10 (of the Emirates ATP Rankings), but to aim even higher and possibly be No. 1, that means that I need to play against these players pretty much every single week and beat them on a regular basis,” said Dimitrov. “I just want to stay on track and focus on whatever is in front of me.”

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Nadal said he was unhappy with his performance, but hoped to regroup next week for the Shanghai Rolex Masters.

“It’s obvious that Grigor played much better than me and he deserved to win. Losing five serve games is something you can’t do to win a match like this,” said Nadal. “I fought until the last ball, but was going against psychologically bad feelings because I was suffering with my serve. When that happens, you have to go to the next tournament because you don’t deserve to win like this.”

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The match started with a surprising five consecutive breaks of serve as both players struggled to find their range. Dimitrov earned the first hold of the match to lead 4-2, but Nadal was unable to follow suit and was broken in the next game. Dimitrov comfortably closed out the set on serve at 5-2 to take a commanding lead.

When Dimitrov broke Nadal for a fifth straight time to open the second set, it appeared he would sprint into the semi-finals. But the Spaniard showed his trademark fighting spirit, saving two break points at 1-3 and another two at 2-4 to keep himself in the match. Dimitrov managed to remain calm, saving two break points at 4-3 and eventually holding serve to wrap up the match.

Next up for Dimitrov is third seed Milos Raonic, a 6-4 6-4 winner over Pablo Carreno Busta. Dimitrov leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head 2-1 and has won their past two meetings, but they haven’t played since the 2014 Australian Open.

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