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By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, October 14, 2021

 
Grigor Dimitrov

Grigor Dimitrov outdueled No. 8-seeded Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(2) scoring his 100th career Masters win to earn a spot in the Indian Wells semifinals.

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty

Sunburned skin and lost leads were pain points of Grigor Dimitrov’s past trips to the desert.

Pushed to competitive cliffhanger today, Dimitrov soared through the stress into the Indian Wells semifinals.

Medvedev: I Don't See Dimitrov Losing

A dynamic Dimitrov defeated eighth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(2) scoring his 100th career Masters 1000 victory to reach his second straight semifinal.

"It feels like I want to say surreal because I never thought turning pro that I'm going to have let's say a hundred matches on such a level," Dimitrov said. I'm very fortunate to be able to put myself in that position over and over, especially throughout the tough years, injuries and so on.

"It means clearly a lot to me. I really appreciate it. I'm very, very humbled on it. Like I'm smiling inside. I'm smiling inside. I think it's a beautiful thing. I'll keep on going hopefully another decade."

Attacking the Pole’s sometime wristy forehand wing, Dimitrov drilled 24 forehand winners doubling Hurkacz’s output off that wing and won 17 of 22 trips to net in a pulsating two hour, 37-minute victory.

Though Hurkacz had not dropped a set en route to the quarterfinals, he looked more drained in the final-set tiebreaker committing four errors from his normally rock-solid two-handed backhand as Dimitrov reeled off seven of the last eight points to close.




It’s Dimitrov’s first Masters semifinal since the 2019 Paris Indoors where he knocked off No. 5 Dominic Thiem before bowing to Novak Djokovic. Dimitrov will face Cameron Norrie for a spot in Sunday’s final.

Earlier, a near-flawless Norrie dismantled Diego Schwartzman 6-0, 6-2 to charge into his first Masters semifinal in a monumental win. The victory vaults Norrie into the Top 20 for the first time as he surpasses Dan Evans as the new British No. 1.

A defiant Dimitrov rode his crackling forehand and all-court acumen to his second straight comeback over a Top 10-seeded opponent. Yesterday, Dimitrov roared back from a one-set, 1-4 double-break deficit to stun US Open champion Daniil Medvedev 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

After that rousing rally, the top-seeded Medvedev was moved to predict Dimitrov will take the title if he can sustain his current level of play.

"About Grigor, I have not much to say,” Medvedev said. “He played second part of the match better than anybody did against me in US Open that I won. So again, playing this level, I don't see him losing to anybody, but let's see the result."

Tennis Express

Despite minimal success and mounting painful losses—Dimitrov had never been beyond the fourth round at Indian Wells before this year—Dimitrov arrived in the desert exuding positive vibes and stubborn self belief after his run to the San Diego semifinals.

"I felt a lot of belief. I felt that I could do some damage out here," Dimitrov said. "I always wanted to do well out here. I felt like I had so many chances throughout the years.

"I've lost very close matches, matches from match points and everything. In a way, I was very determined to come out in the desert and really give it all I had."

Miami Open champion Hurkacz came out engaging Dimitrov in extended rallies as if trying to test his legs following a physical match against Medvedev. Hurkacz hit his backhand down the line with vigor, stamped two love holds and broke the Bulgarian in the eighth game building a one-set lead.

The pair traded breaks in the second and third games of the second set. Hurkacz was serving to extend the second set when Dimitrov snapped a drive that collided with the top of the tape and dribbled over giving the 2019 US Open semifinalist the break and second set.




Dimitrov broke for a 4-2 lead in the decider and served for the semifinals at 5-3. This time the net wasn’t as kind as the Bulgarian’s forehand clipped the top of the tape and floated long giving Hurkacz the crucial break back after two hours, 12 minutes.

Squinting into the sun, Hurkacz stared down a 30-all dilemma unleashing successive 134 mph serve strikes holding to level after 10 games.

Embed from Getty Images

Serving to force the final tiebreaker, Hurkacz was two points from defeat at deuce, but he wasn’t done yet. The 6’5” Pole pounded his 14th ace wide to help him hold and force the breaker.

Given Hurkacz held a 17-10 tiebreaker record in 2021 compared to Dimitrov’s 4-10 breaker record—and the fact the Bulgarian had to be feeling the drain after back-to-back three-setters, you had to favor the higher seed, right?

Wrong.

After three straight mini breaks, Dimitrov asserted his athleticism with a forehand drop volley and aggressive net attack for 4-1.




"Today was I think more of a mental match I would say for both of us," Dimitrov said. "He knew that I didn't have that much, like, energy in me. He absolutely knew that. I knew that, as well. But I was really able to use a lot of the important points into my favor. Of course, a bit of luck as well with that net call on a set point.

"What can I say? Even at 5-3 I couldn't close the match. Yes, I was clearly not at my strongest, but I felt throughout the whole time I was able to do something with the ball even when I was tired. I think that really made a big difference.

He won quite a few battles throughout the whole match. "When it really came down to the wire, I really executed it well and I did the right things."

A forward-thinking Dimitrov won 14 of 17 trips to net over the final two sets, while Hurkacz who rapped at his right leg with his Yonex racquet sailed a couple of backhands as Dimitrov earned a handful of match points.

As fans chanted “Dimitrov! Dimitrov!”, the 2017 ATP Finals champion needed only one lashing a low backhand to close in two hours, 37 minutes.


 

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