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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, April 15, 2022

 
Grigor Dimitrov

Grigor Dimitrov broke when Hubert Hurkacz served for the match roaring back for a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) triumph to reach his second Monte-Carlo Masters semifinal.

Photo credit: Getty

Staring down a bleak scoreline, Grigor Dimitrov drew energy from the echo.

Monte-Carlo fans chanted "Dimitrov! Dimitrov!" and the Bulgarian answered the call.

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Dimitrov broke when Hubert Hurkacz served for the match at 5-4 roaring back for a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) triumph to reach his second Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters semifinal.




Thriving in his adopted hometown, Dimitrov scored his second third-set tiebreaker win over Hurkacz in as many meetings following his 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(2) win in the Indian Wells quarterfinals last October.

Today, Dimitrov slid slices to make the 6'5" Pole dig low balls off his shoelaces setting up some crackling forehand drives.

Ultimately, Dimitrov's skill finishing with the forehand, his ability to break down the Hurkacz forehand on pivotal points and calm composure—the Bulgarian barely blinked amid third-set pressure while Hurkacz tossed his racquet around a couple of times—proved pivotal.

"Throughout the third I had to stay within myself," Dimitrov told Tennis Channel's Prakash Amritraj afterward. "I knew I was gonna chance to get [the break] at some point. I just knew it, but I had to be super patient and the break came very late.

"So after that I had to stay really composed because I knew if I was able to work my way through the first couple of points of the tiebreaker I knew I had a better advantage. I felt he was getting a little bit tired. I was trying to bring him low with my slice and kind of controlling the shots. Next thing you knew it was 6-2 and I was serving for the match."

The 2018 semifinalist Dimitrov will take on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina for a spot in Sunday's final.

The fit Spaniard, who knocked out world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the second round at Monte-Carlo, took down Taylor Fritz, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, in today's first quarterfinal to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal.

Tennis Express

A focused Dimitrov probed Hurkacz's forehand fragility drawing an errant forehand to break at love for 2-1. Dimitrov reeled off nine straight points building a 3-1 lead.

Dimitrov closed out the 35-minute opening set with a strong hold. The Bulgarian won 20 of 23 points played on his serve in the opening set.

The 2017 ATP Finals champion registered 19 straight victories when winning the opening set, but Hurkacz began hammering his two-handed backhand beating the Bulgarian in backhand crosscourt exchanges.




The 11th-seeded Hurkacz was commanding baseline rallies and frequently forcing Dimitrov into the corners to defend.

Showing his creativity, Hurkacz ladled a slick drop shot winner slathered with such severe sidespin, the ball bolted near the doubles alley as if fleeing the court. That sensational dropper sealed the 41-minute second set.

Hurkacz hit a deep forehand approach drawing the error to start the final set with a break. Keeping his slice backhand low, Dimitrov drew a netted backhand to break back.

Serving at 3-4, Hurkacz felt the heat staring down a couple of break points. The 2021 Miami champion deployed the surprise serve-and-volley to save the first and hit a sharp body serve to erase the second. Hurkacz hit his 10th ace to help navigate a hard-fought hold and even after eight games.

Some fans were chanting "Dimitrov! Dimitrov!". The 2018 semifinalist heard the shouts but didn't do enough wtih a forehand volley. A streaking Hurkacz flicked a running forehand pass down the line for break point. Dimitrov tried playing the ensuing rally forcing his forehand to the Pole's backhand, but Hurkacz held his ground, eventually found the Bulgarian's backhand and drew the netted error breaking for 5-4.

Hurkacz served for the semifinals, but Dimitrov dug in and broke down the Pole's forehand wing. A crackling Dimitrov diagonal forehand forged the break to level after 10 games.

Two hours, 15 minutes into the match Hurkacz jerked a backhand down the line wide to face match point. Boldly meeting the challenge moving forward, Hurkacz handled a backhand body volley to deny match point. Dimitrov drew a backhand error for a second match point. On a second serve, Hurkacz again serve-and-volleyed scooping a low volley to save match point number two.




The final set escalated into the tiebreaker. Dimitrov played with more clarity and care. A high forehand volley from Dimitrov and three errors from Hurkacz put the Bulgarian ahead 5-1 in the breaker.

Dimitrov drilled a forehand down the line for 6-2. On his third match point, Dimitrov thumped a serve winner down the T to close in two hours, 27 minutes.

 

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