Grigor Dimitrov arrived on court having lost his past five matches to Stan Wawrinka, but you wouldn’t know it from how their quarter-final clash played out on Thursday night at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC.
Striking his backhand with authority and pouncing on returns, the Bulgarian dismissed the third-seeded Swiss 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals in Acapulco. Dimitrov improved to 11-2 at this event and the 2014 champion (d. Anderson) closed the gap (5-7) in his ATP Head2Head rivalry with Wawrinka.
”I’ve played quite a few times against Stan and we’ve practised together so many times. Between us, it’s mainly a mental battle,” Dimitrov said. “I had lost the past five times again him, but those losses have inspired me. Those losses helped me. Even though it hurts saying it, I’m admitting it. I wanted to stand tall tonight.”
Dimitrov has continued to overcome mental hurdles this week, saving two match points and snapping a four-match losing streak in final-set tie-breaks to defeat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino on Wednesday. The 28-year-old moved to 7-4 this season and is through to his first semi-final of the year.
He awaits the winner of top-seeded Rafael Nadal and South Korean Soonwoo Kwon. Nadal leads his ATP Head2Head series with Dimitrov 12-1, but the Bulgarian picked up his lone win on hard courts at 2016 Beijing.
”The past months have been pretty rough for me. All I wanted to do was put myself in the situation to play the best of the best,” Dimitrov said. “I’m far away from being satisfied. I’m still going to focus on the things I’ve been trying to work on.”
Wawrinka started slowly and dropped the first eight points of the match against Dimitrov. But even when the Swiss broke back to tie the score at 3-3, his groundstrokes didn’t meet his lofty standards. A pair of wild forehand errors from Wawrinka in the next game saw him drop serve once more and another forehand miss on set point gave Dimitrov the opening set.
The Bulgarian continued to remain steady in the second set, extending the rallies until his opponent’s baseline game broke down. Serving at 2-2, Wawrinka was broken to love for the second time in the match after sending a forehand well long.
The slight advantage was all Dimitrov needed and he closed out play after one hour and 25 minutes. Dimitrov hit just 12 unforced errors on the night, compared to 34 for Wawrinka.
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