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By Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, October 21, 2017

 
Grigor Dimitrov

Top-seeded Grigor Dimitrov fended off Fabio Fognini, 6-3, 7-6 (2), charging into his third career Stockholm final.

Photo credit: Intrum Stockholm Open Facebook

Style masters squared off in the Stockholm semifinals.

Grigor Dimitrov continued his inspired indoor run.

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The top-seeded Dimitrov fended off Fabio Fognini, 6-3, 7-6 (2), charging into his third career Stockholm final.

It is the fourth final of the season for Dimitrov, who is bidding for his fourth title of 2017. Dimitrov won Brisbane, Sofia and his first career Masters championship in Cincinnati earlier this season.

"I'm through to another final, that's all I can ask for," Dimitrov said. "It's a very tricky player against Fabio. We saw after such a good first set from me, he took the lead in the second. So I just had to kind of uplift myself a little bit, trying to stay as positive as I can and it was a great tie break as well."



Dimitrov served 69 percent, smacked eight aces and saved three of five break points advancing to Sunday’s final against defending champion Juan Martin del Potro. 

The fourth-seeded del Potro outdueled eighth-seeded Fernando Verdasco, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (1), in a two hour, 42-minute thriller. 

In the decisive tie break, del Potro whipped a backhand return winner crosscourt for 4-0 then smacked a swinging forehand volley for match points at 6-0. Digging out a one-handed backhand lob, del Potro closed the match to reach his first final since the 2016 gold-medal match at the Rio Olympic games.

The 2009 US Open champion will play for his 20th career title tomorrow and first since he beat Jack Sock to win Stockholm last year.

In a match that featured some rousing all-court exchanges, Dimitrov drew first blood. Sliding a slick running backhand pass crosscourt earned him the first break point. A stinging crosscourt return rattled a netted error as the 26-year-old Bulgarian broke for 3-1.

The 26-year-old Bulgarian backed up the break in the fifth game then Fognini took a medical timeout for treatment of a nagging left knee injury.

Soaring high for a lob, Dimitrov flicked a stunning high backhand winner with his back nearly to net as he opened the ninth game. Snapping off his fifth ace, Dimitrov earned triple set point. When Fognini scattered a backhand return, Dimitrov snatched the opening set in 35 minutes.

Fognini, perhaps trying to shorten points out of concern for his knee issue, bumped a forehand drop shot into net as Dimitrov broke to open the second set.

The eighth-ranked Bulgarian backed up the break at love.

Fognini, who saved a pair of match points in his quarterfinal conquest of Jack Sock after denying a match point against Elias Ymer in the second round, fought back in the second set.

Stepping inside the court to take the ball on the rise, Fognini fired through a four-game run for a 4-2 lead before Dimitrov drilled a backhand down the line breaking back in the seventh game.

Dimitrov, who won his maiden ATP title at the 2013 Stockholm Open, opened the tie break with a mini break charging out to a 5-1 lead. Fognini slowed his slide with a forehand winner, but committed successive volley errors as Dimitrov closed an 87-minute conquest with a lengthy and friendly chat with the Italian at net.

Each time Dimitrov has won a semifinal this season he’s gone on to take the title. He will try to continue that streak tomorrow.

 

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