Dimitrov Continues Summer Resurgence In Cincy

Cilic advances after Coric retires

Grigor Dimitrov moved into his third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final on Friday at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, saving a set point en route to defeating Steve Johnson, 7-6(8), 6-2.

"As soon as I came out to play that second set, I felt a little bit more relaxed and a little bit more confident," said Dimitrov. "I was looking more for his serve and waiting in a different spot, so that helped a lot."

Both players traded routine service holds to force a tie-break in the opening set. Dimitrov couldn’t convert on set points at 6/5 and 7/6, but Johnson missed his chance to grab the set at 8/7. The Bulgarian won the final three points to take the tie-break and a commanding lead.

Dimitrov built on that momentum by immediately breaking Johnson to start the second set and once more to take a 4-1 lead. He closed out the match on his serve at the first attempt.

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The Bulgarian’s last ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final came at the 2014 Rogers Cup. He has been playing some of his best tennis this summer, having also reached the quarter-finals last month at the Rogers Cup. Dimitrov will move comfortably back inside the Top 30 of the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday.

Next up for Dimitrov is No. 12 seed Marin Cilic, who advanced when #NextGen star Borna Coric retired due to a knee injury after dropping the first set 6-2. Cilic leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 2-1. Cilic is into an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final for the first time in 71 attempts, overcoming a 0-8 record in quarter-final matches to move into the final four in Cincinnati. This year, he has reached the semi-finals at The Queens Club (l. to Murray) and was runner-up in Marseille (l. to Kyrgios) and Geneva (l. to Wawrinka). 

"I've been a little bit up and down with the form in last 18 months, but when I feel that I'm playing great, I know that I'm going to always have a shot against top guys," said Cilic. "Here is the first time I made it to the semi-finals ever on a Masters 1000 tournament, so it's obviously big step forward for me."

Should Cilic win the Cincinnati title, he could jump to 10th in the Emirates ATP Race to London and surge into contention to grab one of six remaining berths to the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Cilic qualified for London in 2014, the year he won the US Open.