Dimitrov Reaches Third Semifinal Of 2024 Season In Rotterdam

Grigor Dimitrov (photo: Brigitte Urban)

ROTTERDAM/WASHINGTON, February 16, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

Sixth seed and 2018 ABN AMRO Open runner-up Grigor Dimitrov reached his third semifinal of the 2024 season and fourth in his last five events after defeating No. 57 Alexander Shevchenko, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-4, in two hours Friday afternoon in Rotterdam.

Dimitrov, last week’s runner-up in Marseille, improved to 13-2 – most wins on the ATP Tour this season – with his quarterfinal victory over Shevchenko. The No. 6 seed from Bulgaria produced eight aces and won 80 percent of his first-serve points. He converted only one break point in three chances but it proved the difference maker as it came in the final game of the match. Dimitrov outpointed Shevchenko 94-92. It was their first career meeting.

Shevchenko, a 23-year-old Russian-born Kazakh, upset World No. 7 and third seed Holger Rune of Denmark in the second round Thursday for his career-best win. However, he failed to earn consecutive Top 20 wins for the first time in his career and his record against Top 20 opponents dropped to 3-11. Meanwhile, the victory improved Dimitrov to 29-3 versus players outside the Top 50 since the start of last season.

Next, Dimitrov is on to his 52nd career tour-level seminal against World No. 11 and fifth seed Alex de Minaur of Australia, who held off World No. 5 and second seed Andrey Rublev of Russia, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3, in two hours and 31 minutes.

During his on-court interview after his quarterfinal win, Dimitrov was asked what mindset would serve him best going forward.

“That’s a very good question,” he replied. “Stay present. Stay in the moment. I love playing on the weekends. I’m so grateful and thankful I’ve been able to play two weeks back-to-back. The weekend is my favorite time of the week. It’s about grabbing it. Nothing is going to be given to you. You need to be present, use every opportunity you have and try to play your game.”

De Minaur celebrates 25th birthday a day early with big win

Australia’s Alex de Minaur, who turns 25 on Saturday, came into his quarterfinal match with Andrey Rublev of Russia 5-27 versus Top Five players in his career (after an 0-18 start). He was looking to repeat his win over the World No. 5 Rublev in the Rotterdam first round from last year, in their seventh career head-to-head meeting (tied 3-all).

It wouldn’t be an easy task but the World No. 11 de Minaur came out with another win — his fourth against a Top 10 opponent this season. He beat Rublev, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3, to advance to his 22nd ATP Tour semifinal appearance and first one of the season. De Minaur hit 10 aces and 28 winners overall, and outpointed Rublev 110-108.

“I kept telling myself to be brave and go after it, because ultimately I can’t just run around against Andrey,” de Minaur said afterward. “He’s got too much power, too many weapons, and he’ll just dictate me from one side to the other.

“So if I want to be effective against Andrey, I’ve got to back myself, I’ve got to try to be aggressive and hit the ball flatter and bigger than I normally do. In big moments, I played great, and it got me the win today.”

Griekspoor reaches consecutive Rotterdam semifinals

Dutch No. 1 Tallon Griekspoor looked to reach consecutive Rotterdam semifinals when he faced No. 55 Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland. The No. 29 Griekspoor fired 13 aces and won 7-5, 7-6 (4) in an hour and 43 minutes to improve to 14-1 on home soil since the start of 2023 season.

Griekspoor’s only loss was to Jannik Sinner, whom he’ll face in this year’s semifinals Saturday evening. It was the World No. 4 and this year’s top seed from Italy who stopped Griekspoor in last year’s Rotterdam semifinal round.

Sinner achieves milestone 200th career victory

Meanwhile, the 22-year-old Sinner advanced over former World No. 3 Milos Raonic of Canada by retirement, ahead 7-6 (4), 1-1 after 65 minutes. The abbreviated victory that was bought on by a right hip injury to Raonic was the 13th straight for Sinner, the first ATP Tour player born since 2000 to capture 200 tour-level wins in his career.

Around the Rotterdam Ahoy

Unseeded Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Nikola Mektic of Croatia advanced to the doubles semifinals with an 84-minute 6-3, 7-6 (5) win over unseeded Austrians Alexander Erler and Lucas Miedler Friday afternoon.

The winners won 84 percent of their first-serve points and saved both break points they faced. They outpointed the Austrians 68-52 for their second win of the season against them.

Next, Koolhof and Mektic will play defending champions and this year’s No. 1 seeds Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Austin Krajicek of the United States on Saturday.

Friday’s ABN AMRO Open results

Saturday’s ABN AMRO order of play

By the numbers

Jannik Sinner is on a 13- match winning streak — he’s 10-0 this season — that includes his first Grand Slam title at Australian Open. He achieved his 200th tour-level win of his career Friday evening (200-74), which made him the first male player born in the 2000s to reach that milestone and seventh Italian in the Open Era.

“Quotable …”

“I think he is an incredible showman. All the crowd and the people, they love him. I think that’s what this sport needs. I wish that he will keep going as long as possible and hopefully I can share the court with him as many times as possible, because he is such an amazing player.”

— Top seed Jannik Sinner, during his on-court interview Thursday, after defeating 37-year-old Gaël Monfils to advance to the quarterfinal round.