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By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, August 17, 2017

Grigor Dimitrov

Grigor Dimitrov defeated Juan Martin del Potro for the first time in six meetings surging into the Cincinnati quarterfinals.

Photo credit: Western & Southern Open

Montreal doubles partners and good buddies Grigor Dimitrov and Juan Martin del Potro squared off in Cincinnati today.

Hitting scalding strikes amid scorching early afternoon heat, Dimitrov defeated a depleted del Potro for the first time, 6-3, 7-5, surging into his sixth quarterfinal of the season.

Watch: Tennis Ink

The victory ensures the 11th-ranked Bulgarian will return to the Top 10 when the new ATP rankings are issued on Monday.

Two-time Cincinnati semifinalist del Potro looked woozy from the punishing heat during the final two games and reported dizziness to the tournament doctor during the final changeover.

The seventh-seeded Dimitrov will play Yuichi Sugita for a spot in the final four.

The 46th-ranked Japanese reached his third ATP quarterfinal with a 6-7 (0), 6-3, 6-3 comeback conquest of explosive Karen Khachanov. Sugita saved three of four break points in a two-hour triumph. 

All five of Sugita's Masters series wins have come in the Queen City.

Dimitrov, one of only five seeds still standing, rallied for a three-set win over Sugita in their lone prior clash in Toronto last summer.

Winless in five prior meetings with del Potro, the Australian Open semifinalist came to court armed with a clear game plan. Dimitrov banged big serves to the towering Argentine’s backhand, forced del Potro to defend his weaker backhand wing on the run and moved forward in the court to finish at net.

The 26-year-old Bulgarian broke in del Potro’s opening service game eventually extending to 4-1.

The 2009 US Open champion’s booming forehand remains one of the most menacing groundstrokes in the game, but when he’s misfiring on that wing del Potro can struggle.

Del Potro jerked a wild forehand wide as Dimitrov cruised through a love hold stretching his lead to 5-2.

Serving for the set, Dimitrov failed to do enough with a mid-court forehand and faced break point. Launching himself into a down the line forehand, Dimitrov denied it with a flourish.

When del Potro poked a slice approach into net, Dimitrov pocketed the 40-minute first set, winning 16 of 19 first-serve points. It was the third set the Dimitrov took against del Potro in 13 career sets they’ve played.

Getting right back to work, del Potro broke to start the second set then hammered his sixth ace backing up the break for 3-0.

A pair of electric forehands—a running strike crosscourt and a stinging pass down the line—helped Dimitrov break back in the seventh game to get back on serve.

In the 10th game, Dimitrov saved three break points then rifled his eighth ace wide to level the set after 90 minutes.

That’s when the draining near 90-degree heat began to gnaw at del Potro’s equilibrium.

Serving at 15-30 in the next game, a woozy del Potro looked dazed and dizzy as he paused on the baseline prompting the chair umpire to ask a few times “Juan, are you okay?”

A depleted Del Potro nodded but looked a bit out of sorts stepping to the wrong side to serve at one point. Still, he managed to fight off two break points before poking a forehand long to face a third break point. Dimitrov laced a backhand winner to break for 6-5.

On the changeover del Potro slumped in his seat, buried his face in his heads then dumped a bottle of water over his head as the chair umpire called the tournament doctor out on court.

“I felt dizzy,” del Potro told the doctor.

An immobile del Potro watched as Dimitrov fired a forehand winner down the line to close his first win in six meetings with his sometime doubles partner.


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