Dimitrov Takes Down Ruud, Reaches QFs

Grigor Dimitrov maintained his strong record at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters Thursday, upsetting fourth seed Casper Ruud 6-3, 7-5 to reach the quarter-finals for the fourth time.

The Bulgarian hit with controlled aggression throughout on Court Rainier III, stepping deep behind the baseline at times to take large cuts at the ball as he dictated with his groundstrokes to advance after one hour and 31 minutes.

“I was really looking forward to the match,” Dimitrov said in his on-court interview. “I knew if I did the right things, good things would come out of it. Casper is such a great player on whatever surface. He has proved it over and over again at such a young age, which is nice to see. I liked that matchup and wanted to see where I was physically and mentally. I just played and enjoyed the game.”

The World No. 29 has played some of his best tennis at the ATP Masters 1000 clay-court event in the past, reaching the last eight in 2013 and 2015 and the semi-finals in 2018.

Dimitrov, who is making his ninth appearance in Monte Carlo, has also earned wins against 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, former World No. 7 Fernando Verdasco and World No. 6 Matteo Berrettini at the tournament over the years.

“It is always tough this week because you are switching surfaces,” Dimitrov added. “So I try and not be too tough on myself in practice. I just try to do the simple things. It is going so well so far.”

Dimitrov has now levelled his ATP Head2Head series with Ruud at 1-1 and will next meet 11th seed Hubert Hurkacz after the Pole defeated Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6(2), 6-2.

Following his victory over the Norwegian, Dimitrov has already recorded the same number of wins on clay in 2022 than he managed in the whole of last season. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion went 3-8 on the surface in 2021, while he is 3-0 this year.

Dimitrov dominated the longer rallies in the first set, winning 19 of 29 points that went over five shots as he dictated the backhand exchanges. Ruud started to have more success when he targeted Dimitrov’s forehand but from 1-5 down in the opener, the mountain was too big to climb.

The second set was a much tighter affair with both players strong on serve. There were no break points offered up until the 12th game of the set, when Dimitrov produced an impressive return game to advance on his third match point.

“Despite certain moments, I felt like I was making the right decisions,” Dimitrov said. “You don’t have to make things more complicated. I was reading the game well, which helped me a lot. I made a lot of returns, which gave me an advantage to start points aggressively.”

Ruud, who has captured six tour-level titles on clay, reached his maiden Masters 1000 final at the Miami Open presented by Itau at the start of April. The Norwegian advanced to the semi-finals in Monte Carlo in 2021 and defeated #NextGenATP Dane Holger Rune in his first match this week.

Taylor Fritz is transferring his strong hard-court results onto clay this week, with the 10th seed winning an all-American battle against Sebastian Korda on Thursday in Monte Carlo.

The 24-year-old captured his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells in March and has now reached the quarter-finals at four of the past five Masters 1000 events following his 7-6(4), 7-5 victory over Korda. Fritz is the first American man to reach the last eight in Monte Carlo since Sam Querrey in 2008.

“I thought the match today was pretty good,” Fritz said. “I was looking out for his return. I think I did a good job serving, mixing up all my spots. I fought off his returns on my second serves, which was the main focus. It was really good conditions today, so I was able to play what I felt was my best match.”

Fritz, who is making his third appearance at the Monte Carlo Country Club, will next play Alejandro Davidovich Fokina after the Spaniard, who shocked World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the second round, moved past Marrakech champion David Goffin 6-4, 6-1.

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