Grigor Dimitrov is becoming the comeback king at the BNP Paribas Open as he backed up his victory over top seed Daniil Medvedev by rallying from a set down to defeat Hubert Hurkacz on Thursday in Indian Wells.
The Bulgarian raised his level in a tight match to edge past the 24-year-old 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(2) and reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final of the season. With his victory, Dimitrov has now earned 100 Masters 1000 wins.
“I stayed in it,” Dimitrov said in his on-court interview. “Especially after that first set it was very hard for me to find my range today. I was a little bit tired from yesterday and didn’t feel I really had enough time to rest and push, but I still felt and I knew I had something in me. I knew that I had to step up and be a little bit more aggressive.
“I started reading his serve a little bit more and I had a few more looks. I kept trying and believing and I think that made the difference.”
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After dropping the first set, Dimitrov saved two break points at 3-3, 15/40 in the second set, before he levelled via a netcord on set point, raising his arms in the air following an epic point between the pair. The World No. 28 then squandered a 5-2 lead in the decider, but regained his focus, eventually advancing after two hours and 40 minutes. The 23rd seed now leads Hurkacz 1-0 in their ATP Head2Head series.
“I am trying to get back to a good rhythm of tennis and living and being pain free with my body,” Dimitrov said. “Waking up and feeling my body is there gives me confidence. I am really enjoying my everyday life.”
Just 24 hours earlier, Dimitrov had battled back from a set and a double-break down against Medvedev in the fourth round to capture his first win over a top two opponent since he defeated Andy Murray in Miami in 2016.
The 30-year-old will next face Cameron Norrie after the Brit boosted his hopes to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals by sweeping aside Diego Schwartzman 6-0, 6-2 to reach his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final.
“I am definitely not surprised to see Cameron Norrie in the semi-finals,” Dimitrov added. “He has been playing great, very good matches. He is a very dangerous opponent and very crafty. It is not going to be an easy match my end.”
Dimitrov arrived in California in form, having enjoyed a run to the semi-finals in San Diego at the start of October, defeating Russia’s Aslan Karatsev en route to the last four. Earlier this season, the Bulgarian reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, where he beat then-World No. 3 Dominic Thiem. Dimitrov is aiming to win his first title since triumphing at the Nitto ATP Finals in 2017 and chasing his first final since Rotterdam in 2018.
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In a tight first set, Hurkacz was strong on serving, winning 92 per cent (12/13) of points behind his first delivery as he effectively moved forward to the net to cause Dimitrov problems. In a mammoth eighth game, Hurkacz found the decisive breakthrough as he converted his third break point of the game, before holding to lead.
After breaks were exchanged at the start of the second set, Dimitrov began to find his rhythm from the baseline, striking the ball with great depth and power as he started to gain momentum. After levelling the match via a netcord, the 23rd seed produced a superb forehand volley winner to save a break point in the third game of the decider, before he raced 5-2 ahead. However, after failing to serve out the match, Dimitrov remained composed and played consistently in the tie-break to advance.
Hurkacz is currently ninth (2,955 points) in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin and was aiming to reach his second Masters 1000 semi-final of the season as he looked to strengthen his bid to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November.
The Pole has earned a career-best 33 wins this season, clinching titles in Delray Beach and Metz, while clinching his first Masters 1000 crown in Miami. The eighth seed was trying to complete a unique sunshine double in the California desert.