Giron Reaches New Plateau In Sofia

Marcos Giron (photo: Sofia Open/

WASHINGTON, October 2, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Marcos Giron is currently the eighth-ranked American men’s tennis player. At No. 67, he doesn’t get the kind of attention or recognition that others ranked above him such as Reilly Opelka, John Isner, Taylor Fritz or Sebastian Korda get. However, after another rewarding week on the ATP Tour –  in which he’s broken new ground – that all will change.

On Friday, Giron continued his impress run at the Sofia Open in the Bulgarian capital city. He beat No. 8 seed John Millman of Australia, 6-4, 6-2, in 70 minutes for his 20th win of the season to advance to his first ATP Tour tour-level semifinal. The victory lifted his live ranking to No. 56, which is a new career-best plateau.

Giron, 28, who reached his third straight quarterfinal round by upsetting third seed Alex de Minaur a round earlier, saved all three of the break points he faced while winning 80 percent (28 of 35) of his first-serve points against the 55th-ranked Millman. He’s saved 10 of 12 break points through winning his first three matches at Arena Armeec Sofia this week.

In his on-court interview following his victory over Millman, who was appearing in his fourth quarterfinal of the season, Giron expressed his amazement. “It feels awesome,” he said. “First of all, tough match to John. He is a force on the ATP Tour, so I am really happy to get the win. It feels great to be in the semifinals, but I don’t want to stop there. I want to keep going.”

Giron arrived in Sofia after stringing together a couple of recent quarterfinal performances on hard courts, at Winston-Salem, N.C., in a US Open tuneup in August, then last week at Metz, France. Earlier this year, he was also a quarterfinalist at Halle on grass. It’s added up to a confidence-building year for Giron, who won the 2014 NCAA singles champion while at UCLA.

“I think they both [resilience and confidence] go hand in hand,” Giron said. “If you are resilient and come back from tough situations, it gives you confidence and next time you are under pressure you feed off that past success.

“I am building on the past month. I have been playing good tennis. In the second set, he had break points to get back on serve. So, I am really happy with how I played there.”

Next, Giron will play No. 2 seed Gaël Monfils. The 20th-ranked Monfils from France fired 13 aces and defeated No. 78 Gianluca Mager of Italy, 6-2, 6-2, in only 50 minutes to reach his second straight semifinal following his last four performance last week in Metz.

After reaching the Sofia Open semifinals in 2019, Monfils’ time on court this year has been brief. After a first-round bye, he earned a quarterfinal berth by walkover against Ilya Ivashka of Belarus.

“I like to be here,” Monfils, 35, said during an on-court interview. “The city is great. The people organizing the tournament are always amazing. I have had a very good time with good preparation and that is why I think I played very well today.”

Later in press, Monfils said: “I played the last time I came. You always like to come back to the tournaments you did good. … I want to have a chance to win tomorrow and, maybe, leave with a trophy.”

During the Sofia evening session quarterfinals, No. 1 seed and defending champion Jannik Sinner of Italy rallied to beat No. 56 James Duckworth of Australia, who was playing in back-to-back tour-level quarterfinals for the first time, 7-6 (4), 6-4.

“Today was a very tough match,” Sinner said during his post-match news conference. “I lost the last one against him in Toronto and he was in a very positive situation, winning a Challenger, making the final last week. It was not easy for me and it was a very close match, especially the first set.”

Next, Sinner will play No. 5 seed Filip Krajinovic of Serbia, who struck 13 aces during his 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over 125th-ranked lucky loser Kamil Majchrzak of Poland. The 37th-ranked Krajinovic is into his second semifinal of the season after having played in six quarterfinals.

“Jannik is an unbelievable player. I have nothing to lose,” Krajinovic said during an on-court interview after his match. “I will come here tomorrow and play free.”

Top seed Rublev moves into San Diego Open semifinals

Andrey Rublev played Diego Schwartzman for the second time in two weeks after facing him in last week’s Laver Cup competition. Like a week ago when he won, this time at the ATP 250 San Diego Open, the top-seeded Rublev mastered the No. 6 seed from Argentina, 6-1, 7-5 to advance to his eighth semifinal round of the season. He put away the victory by winning the final five points of the one hour and 52-minute match at the Barnes Tennis Center.

“The match against him at the Laver cup helped me a lot because we hadn’t played for a really, really long time and I didn’t know what he was doing on court,” the World No. 5 Rublev said during an on-court interview. “The match at Laver Cup gave me confidence and also let me know how I needed to play today.”

Next, Rublev will face No. 28 Cameron Norrie of Great Britain, who looked sharp in his 67-minute 6-3, 6-1 victory over No. 4 seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada. He won 78 percent (42 of 54) of his first-serve points, saved the only break point he faced, broke Shapovalov’s serve four times and outpointed the World No. 13 by a margin of 59-40.

Also advancing to Saturday’s semifinals were No. 2 seed Casper Ruud of Norway, who defeated No. 9 seed Lorenzo Sonego of Italy, 6-1, 6-4; and No. 29 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who beat No. 24 Aslan Karatsev of Russia, 6-1, 1-6, 6-2.