Grigor Dimitrov. (Photo by Loic Baratoux/ABACAPRESS.COM)
Grigor Dimitrov attempts to reach his first semi-final since the US Open when he faces Chilean, Cristian Garin at the Paris Masters on Friday.
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Dimitrov had been on a poor run of results in the weeks leading up to the Paris Masters, winning just two matches in his four tournaments since the US Open, but the Bulgarian has been a hugely impressive this week, beating Ugo Humbert, David Goffin and Dominic Thiem to reach his first Paris Masters quarter final.
Thiem had arrived Thursday’s third round meeting on a six-match winning streak, but he was a distant second-best against Dimitrov, who produced one of his finest performances of the season to take out the Austrian. The former world No. 3 lost just four points on his first serve, and offered Thiem no break points, converting three of the seven opportunities he had on the Austrian’s serve in a spectacular display.
It was another reminder of just how good Dimitrov has been, and can be, but those performances, and results have been very few and far between in the last couple of years. Since winning the Nitto ATP Finals at the end of 2017 and rising to No. 3 in the world, Dimitrov is yet to claim another title, reaching just the one final in Rotterdam last year, and three other semi-finals across two seasons. That US Open semi-final in September remains his only semi-final this season, and frankly, it was completely out of order with his year, given how poor he had been.
He had fallen at No. 19 in the world at the start of 2019, and continued to slide down the rankings through the year, struggling at 78th at the start of the US Open. With his season seemingly heading nowhere, Dimitrov found some inspiration at Flushing Meadows, reaching the last four, and surging back into the top-30. However, he could not immediately build on that run, and was soon back to his pre-New York struggles, winning just two matches across Chengdu, Beijing, Stockholm and Vienna.
A peculiar season has taken another turn this week in Paris, where’s he’s produced some of his best tennis of the year to reach the semi-finals. Can he keep it going with victory over Garin on Friday?
Garin had not played a Masters 1000 main draw until Montreal in August, and had never featured at the Paris Masters until this week, but he’s put together a solid week in the French capital to reach the quarter finals.
The Chilean took out Pablo Cuevas in the first round, came through two tie breaks in an impressive victory over John Isner in the second round, before outlasting French hope, Jeremy Chardy in three tough sets in the third round on Thursday.
Chardy looked to have done enough when he opened up a 6-3 lead in the deciding set tie break, but Garin saved all three match points before putting away a short forehand winner to secure the big 6-7 6-4 7-6 victory. The 23-year-old advances to his sixth quarter final of the season, and will seek his fourth semi-final on Friday.
Garin had a very good junior career, winning the Roland Garros Boys’ title in 2013, beating Laslo Djere, Borna Coric and Alexander Zverev in that tournament, but it’s taken him longer than some of his peers to find his way on the main tour, as he did not break into the top-100 until October last year.
He’s had by far his best season, winning his first titles in Houston and Munich, and making another final in Sao Paolo during a solid clay-court spell in the first half of the year. The results have not quite been there since his title run in Munich, as he made just two quarter finals in his next 16 tournaments leading up to Paris, suffering a series of first round exits during that stretch. The world No. 42 arrived the Paris Masters on a three-match losing streak, but he’s found some good form in the French capital, reaching his maiden Masters 1000 quarter final, and setting up a first meeting with Grigor Dimitrov on Friday.
Garin is very solid player from the back of the court, with a nice blend of offence and defence, but Dimitrov has been playing at a very high level this week, and if he can keep that going on Friday, the former world No. 3 should be too good for the Chilean.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Cristian Garin is live from Paris on Friday, 1 November from 2:00pm local time/ 1:00pm GMT