Dimitrov Shows His Brilliance And Fight In Overcoming Alcaraz At Shanghai Masters

Grigor Dimitrov (photo: ATP Tour video)


Never count Grigor Dimitrov out of a tennis match – no matter the opponent, no matter the odds.

On Wednesday evening at Rolex Shanghai Masters in China, the 32-year-old Bulgarian earned his biggest win of the season by upsetting World No. 2 and top seed Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal of the season and 17th of his career.

Throughout the two-hour, 10-minute fourth-round clash at Qi Zhong Tennis Center, the 19th-ranked Dimitrov showed plenty of brilliance and fight, and didn’t appear too discouraged after squandering a 5-3 lead in the opening set. He hit cleanly from both wings – producing 29 winners – and he surprised his younger opponent with plenty of well-timed and effective drop shots for good measure. It was his first career victory in four tries against Alcaraz, who dropped to 63-9 with the defeat (25-5 in Masters 1000 play this season) and has reached only one final (Cincinnati) since winning Wimbledon.

“I stayed in the match, that was the first thing,” Dimitrov said during his on-court interview. “Especially after the first set.

“I was serving well throughout the first set and he made a few errors. I pushed him to make a lot of errors at certain moments. At 4-5 he played an amazing game and another at 6-5. I was creating a lot of opportunities.

“After the second break in the second set, I think I understood his service games and was able to put more balls in and fed his nerve a bit better. I think in the third set it was a bit of cat-and-mouse. I think we both played a solid set. He made a few errors and I was very solid and served well when. I had to.”

Dimitrov finished with 10 aces, won 73 percent of his first-serve points – including 16 of 18 in the final set – broke Alcaraz’s serve four times in five opportunities and outpointed him 58-52. The victory was his 34th of the season.

Next, Dimitrov (the oldest player remaining in the draw) will face 22nd seed Nicolas Jarry of Chile as he seeks to win his first title since the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals crown. Jarry celebrated his 28th birthday in Shanghai with his family on Wednesday by advancing to his first ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal after defeating Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. He struck 44 winners in beating the 130th-ranked wild card Schwartzman for the second time this season in their sixth career meeting.

“I’m very happy to be able to comeback after that second set,” Jarry explained in his on-court interview in looking back on his 36th win of 2023. “I was struggling a little bit. I tried to push myself. It’s very tough to play against Diego because of [our] history. Mentally, he is so strong, a great competitor and he makes every ball. You have to work a lot and I’m very happy to overcome it.”

Humbert dominates Wolf, Rublev next 

Thirty-second seed Ugo Humbert of France dominated American J.J. Wolf 6-1, 6-2, needing only 58 minutes to wrap up his fourth-round match and move into the quarterfinal round.

In improving his 2023 win-loss record to 25-20 – one win better than a year ago – the 34th-ranked Humbert did not face any break points against No. 51 Wolf.

“It was a great performance from me, I played a great level,” said Humbert, who will face fifth seed Andrey Rublev of Russia, the highest-ranked player remaining, in the quarterfinals. “I’m very proud. I was really focused from the beginning until the end. …

“I’ve worked a lot with my team, with Jeremy Chardy. Last year I was in Challengers, so it’s a Great improvement. It’s daily work and we’ve built something good. I’m very happy to be in the quarters here.”

In the last of the fourth-round matches, Rublev defeated 12th seed Tommy Paul of the United States, 7-5, 7-5, in an hour and 35 minutes, for his fifth win over the American in six career meetings. The Russian, who hit 22 winners and outpointed Paul 76-59, improved to 16-6 in Masters 1000 play this season.

Rublev was asked in his on-court interview what the difference was in mastering Paul to move into the last eight. He said: “That I was able to remain calm, to not get frustrated – especially when he broke me in the first set. I was able to stay focused and to keep the same level. … By the end of both sets, I was more lucky and played better.”

By the numbers

Grigor Dimitrov has garnered 17 wins against Top 5 opponents in his career with his previous victory against a Top 2 player occurring in October 2021 against Daniil Medvedev at Indian Wells.

“Quotable …”

“I knew what I had to do [to win]. I knew I had to apply constant pressure against him. Even if I was down, even if my shots were not good enough, I had to put him in uncomfortable positions. He doesn’t like being on the back foot. I was coming in quite a little bit and trying to put him in awkward positions.”

Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, explaining in his on-court interview after defeating Carlos Alcaraz what it took to beat the World No. 2 from Spain.