Grigor Dimitrov produced one of the comebacks of the season Wednesday at the BNP Paribas Open as he recovered from a set and a double breakdown to shock seed Daniil Medvedev at Indian Wells.
The 23rd seed went back the years as he fought 4-6, 1-4 down to overtake the Russians 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 and reach the quarter-finals at Indian Wells for the first time.
“He’s such a tough player and competitor,” Dimitrov said during his interview on the pitch. “Over the past year, I’ve faced him a few times and couldn’t find a way. But today I just felt something at 1-4 and calmed down and started making better decisions and started to control the pace of the game which really helped me . In the end, it was just a very solid and intelligent game.
After appearing in total control, Medvedev lost his way, making just 34% of his first serves in the second set as Dimitrov forced the world number 2 to make mistakes with his aggressive play. The Bulgarian has won eight straight games and finally advanced after two hours and 16 minutes.
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This is the first time Dimitrov has beaten one of the top two opponents since 2016, when he defeated Andy Murray in Miami. The world number 28 has now reduced his ATP Head2Head deficit with Medvedev to 2-3. Dimitrov will next face eighth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz after the Pole defeated Russian Aslan Karatsev 6-1, 6-3.
“I am happy to have the opportunity to play at this level again,” Dimitrov added. “There have been a lot of ups and downs and you never know what’s going to happen, so I’m really trying to enjoy the moment when I can be here on the pitch and work and stay humble. It’s the only thing you can control.
With his victory, the eight-time circuit champion is in the quarterfinals of an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time this season. Dimitrov qualified for the last eight at the Australian Open in January, where he also beat one of the top five players, then world number 3, Dominic Thiem.
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In a sharp start, Medvedev showed his current confidence in the opener, immediately breaking Dimitrov to gain control. The Russian won 80% (16/20) of his first serve points in the first set as he struck with great length, committing just five unforced errors as he moved forward.
Medvedev then took a 4-1 lead in the second set as Dimitrov failed to break through to world number 2. However, from a double breakdown, Dimitrov began to find his best tennis. The Bulgarian managed five straight games to equalize as he played aggressively, while Medvedev lost focus from the baseline and serve.
Fueled by momentum, Dimitrov, who hit 25 winners in the game, didn’t let go as he continued to frustrate Medvedev in the decider. He continued to approach the net efficiently and sealed his victory when Medvedev hit a long forehand.
Medvedev had won 18 of his last 19 games on North American soil, winning his fourth Masters 1000 title in Toronto and his first major at the US Open. The Russian was aiming for the quarter-finals for the first time at Indian Wells.