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By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, April 14, 2022


Grigor Dimitrov toppled fourth-seeded Casper Ruud 6-3, 7-5 and Taylor Fritz stopped doubles partner Sebastian Korda 7-6(4), 7-5 in Monte-Carlo.

Photo credit: Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters Facebook

Traditionally, red clay rewards patience.

Today, commitment to proactive play powered Grigor Dimitrov and Taylor Fritz to Monte-Carlo milestones.

Alcaraz: Defeat is Not Death

A dynamic Dimitrov hit 23 winners upsetting fourth-seeded Casper Ruud 6-3, 7-5 to charge into his 16th career Masters 1000 quarterfinal, including his fourth in Monte-Carlo.

Applying his all-court versatility, Dimitrov closed at net effectively and dragged the Miami Open finalist into awkward positions on court. Dimitrov converted four of nine break points in a 92-minute victory.

There's no place like home and the 30-year-old Bulgarian, who calls Monte-Carlo his adopted home, credited a relaxed start to his clay-court campaign as a key to his strong start.

"It's great," Dimitrov told Tennis Channel's Prakash Amritraj. "What can I say. You don't get a chance to be home at all. As soon as I came back after Miami I really took some time away from the court. I think it really helped me a lot.

"I feel like I was last person that started on clay, everyone was already practicing and doing a lot of work. I was like, you know what I'm gonna start a little bit later this year. I know what I have to do. I've switched surfaces so many times in my life that I felt confident after to change up the surface like a little bit late. Progressively, little by little I had a plan, worked my plan with the whole team, and I think everything seems to be in a good direction right now."

Tennis Express

The 2018 semifinalist will face either 11th-seeded Hubert Hurkacz or Spanish lefty Albert Ramos-Vinolas for a spot in the final four.

At age 30, Dimitrov is one of the oldest players still standing in the field. The entire top half of the draw is wide open with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic's upset loss to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Miami champion Carlos Alcaraz bowing to Sebastian Korda in three sets. Dimitrov knows his way around this neighborhood and his try to maintain focus on his area of the field.

"It's a great challenge;  I remember what it was to be that age and how I felt and what I did and so on," Dimitrov said. "[Upsets] gives a ot of confidence now. Everybody feels a little more loose, nothing to lose.

"Players who have not been there they start believing. It builds up the confidence without having the guys around. But for me with or without honestly doesn't make any difference because everyone's gonna fight. You still got to put one extra ball than the opponent. For me I'm gonna focus on my side of the net, see what I can do and go after it."

Taylor Fritz continues to fly through his Masters break-out season.

The Indian Wells champion played controlled first-strike tennis fending off doubles partner Sebastian Korda 7-6(4), 7-5 in the first all-American Monte-Carlo third-rounder since former Top 10 player Jimmy Arias beat Aaron Krickstein en route to the 1987 final. 

The 13th-ranked Fritz reached his fourth Masters 1000 quarterfinal in his last five Masters appearances. The 24-year-old American improved to 20-6 on the season, tying Rafael Nadal for most ATP victories on the season.

Fritz is the first American to reach the Monte-Carlo quarterfiinals since Sam Querrey in 2008. Fritz said his Masters success infuses him with the confidence to swing freely.

"A lot of its confidence for me—kind of having the confidence to go after my shots—I think that's why I struggled a bit in the first round," Fritz told Tennis Channel's Prakash Amritraj afterward. "It was so windy, I didn't have that confidence to go after my shots.

"Today, good conditions out and I've been playing well. So it's really just the confidence to trust yourself in the big moments, play the big points well. I think that's been the big part of it."

Fritz will face Davidovich Fokina for a semifinal spot. Davidovich Fokina reeled off eight of the last nine games crushing David Goffin 6-4, 6-1.


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