Grigor Dimitrov, the only Bulgarian in the tennis elite, played his next outstanding match in Paris and for the second time in his career qualified for the final in the “Masters” tournament.
Grisho achieved a new prestigious victory on the courts in the “Bersi” hall, defeating the world number 6 and a traditionally uncomfortable opponent in the person of Stefanos Tsitsipas – 6:3, 6:7(1), 7:6(3) in 2 hours and 34 minutes game.
The result really suggests the contestability of the match, and the quality of the game was at an excellent level, as the Bulgarian did not allow a single breakthrough for the entire match. He managed to beat Tsitsipas for the third time, from whom he had a total of six defeats so far and four in a row.
Grisho: I won’t cry, but I’m very emotional
Dimitrov is in the Masters final for the second time (out of ten semifinals), after winning the title in Cincinnati in 2017. For the second time in the season, he will try to triumph in an ATP race, after losing in Geneva in the battle for the distinction of Nicolas Jarry.
The victory over Tsitsipas was the 41st of 2023 for Grisho, who for the third time in his career accumulated at least 40 wins – in 2014 he had 50 and in 2017 49. Dimitrov eliminated consecutively in Paris Lorenzo Musetti, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Bublik, Hubert Hurkach and now Stefanos Tsitsipas.
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The Bulgarian already has 37 wins over top 10 opponents and seven in 2023 – over Hurkach, Taylor Fritz, Francis Tiafoe, Holger Rune, Carlos Alcaraz, Medvedev and Tsitsipas. Grigor already has 128 victories at the “Masters” level and is tied with Fernando Verdasco for seventh place among active tennis players (Marin Cilic is sixth with 130).
Dimitrov is guaranteed 14th place in the world rankings from next week, and if he wins the final against Novak Djokovic, he will be 11th. The great Serbian won a 3-hour duel with Andrei Rublev – 5:6, 7:6(3), 7:5.
Djokovic vs. Grigor Dimitrov in the final in Paris
Dimitrov started with a double fault for 0-15, but then he placed a quality forehand on the diagonal and reached 15-15. The next play consisted of ten shots and was finished with a smash by the Bulgarian – 30-15. Tsitsipas made a mistake with the front side of his racket for 40-15, then with a serve-net Grigor closed the game – 1:0.
Dimitrov shone with his first backhand-winner on the straight for 0-15, and a little later he repeated the exercise in the same beautiful way – 15-30. Tsitsipas missed a backhand near the net, hampered by the opponent’s undercut return – 15-40. Grisho benefited from an overpowered forehand of the Greek and led with an early break – 2:0.
Dimitrov strung an unreflected serve and an ace on the diagonal for 30-0, and with another unanswered forehand he secured an excellent lead of 40-0. Tsitsipas again overpowered the front side of his racket and the break came at 3:0. The Greek took the pressure off himself with a positive start in the next game at 30-0, but Grisho scorched him with another forehand backhand for 30-15. The world number 6 successfully combined a serve with a forehand and reached 40-15, after which he was again pleasantly surprised by his opponent’s return – 40-30. With an unanswered opening kick, Tsitsipas still opened his account – 3:1.
Dimitrov continued with the unquestionable performance of his serves and quickly led 30-0, and soon after a sharp forehand on the diagonal – and 40-0. From the main line at that moment, the Bulgarian had won 10 out of 11 points played. Without letting up, he convincingly closed the game for 4:1.
Tsitsipas was forced to work hard for his points in the next service game, but he went to the net and despite the excellent defense of the Bulgarian, he reached 4:2.
Inaccuracies with the front of the world number 6’s racket continued and it was 15-0, and he was provoked to error again for 30-0. A drive to the net gave him a 40-0 lead, then came Tsitsipas’ first real quality earned point from the baseline, 40-15. With the help of the fillet, the Bulgarian parried an action of his opponent forward in the court and the result became 5:2.
A fantastic smash by Dimitrov with maximum stretching back provided him with an advance of 0-15, and an exceptional play with dominance of the Bulgarian brought him a lead of 15-30, as he also won an attractive exchange of the net. The Greek’s service volley made it 30-30, but a lovely forehand on Grisho’s line earned him a set point on the way. Tsitsipas rose to the challenge and provoked a deuce, and then another deuce went through. Unchallenged on the world number 6 meant a second set point, but the Greek handled it by going inside the court. The game had been going for eight minutes before Stefanos finally took advantage, but was unable to capitalize on it because of a forehand at the net – his 11th error on that side so far. Two unanswered serves in a row finally secured the game for Tsitsipas for 5:3.
Tsitsipas also fought for 15-15 with a good series of forehands on the diagonals, but an unanswered opening shot came in time in favor of Grigor – 30-15. With a nice straight shot on the reverse diagonal, the Bulgarian made two set points, then won an exchange of backhands for 6:3.
Tsitsipas started with a service game at zero, but Dimitrov did the same, finishing with an elegant volley at the net for 1:1. The Greek was hinting that he was raising the level of his serves and with more going forward and clear shots secured a second game – 1:2.
Grisho lost one of his rare forehands after his serve thanks to a deep backhand slice from Tsitsipas. However, the Bulgarian responded appropriately with a forehand winner on the rights to 15-15, and another wonderful play from him gave him a 30-15 lead. An unreturned kickoff made it 40-15 before an error on the front side of the racket made it 40-30. A wonderful forehand on the opposite diagonal of Dimitrov closed the game – 2:2.
A nifty short ball from Grigor down the court brought it to 15-15, but Tsitsipas had more and more success with his baseline forehands. Just when the statistics also showed positivity for him in this regard, he went unchallenged for 30-30. Two unanswered serves allowed the Greek to draw 2:3.
Grisho hit an ace on the diagonal for 15-0, then tried to get past his opponent with a straight backhand, but Tsitsipas caught up with the ball and earned it 15-15. An attempt at a difficult counter forehand from the Bulgarian as he ran off the backhand went wide and it was 30-30, but an exchange of backhands was won by Dimitrov for 40-30. A good play ended with another attractive strike by Grigor for 3:3.
Tsitsipas made a double fault for 15-15, and then went through 30-30, but in the end he did not allow a surprise in his submission – 3:4. The Greek almost missed a shot, but instead it was 30-0 before Grisho found the back of the net to make it 40-0. The second double fault of the match meant 40-15, but it did not mean that intrigue was allowed – 4:4.
A fine backhand return winner from Dimitrov took him to 0-15, but then Tsitsipas did not allow himself to be missed at the net and improved to 30-15. This happened in the next play – a passing winning return shot by the Bulgarian for 30-30. A fantastic long drive with patience and skill allowed Grisho to create a break point, but the Greek volleyed it into the net – deuce. Dimitrov “poisoned” the opponent with a backhand slice and waited for an error for a second opportunity to break through. The help of the fillet proved decisive for Tsitsipas and he saved again and then placed a quality forehand for the advantage. The Greek celebrated wildly winning the game, leading 4:5.
Grisho did not seem disheartened by the missed break chances and started his next service game convincingly, although his opponent hit a return winner for 30-15. An initial shot and exiting the net of the Bulgarian brought him a 40-15 lead, and then came an ace – 5:5.
Dimitrov narrowly missed first an attempt for a return-winner, and then a complicated execution of a passing forehand – 30-0. Tsitsipas kept coming forward after his serves and this brought him success, but it still came to 40-30 after a sharp return from the Bulgarian. However, with an ace, the world number 6 did not allow any more intrigue and guaranteed himself a tiebreak – 5:6.
And Grigor showed that he is a master of the game at the net – 15-0, after which a wrong judgment by a linesman damaged him and provoked a point replay. That’s how it got to 15-15, but a direct service point served for 30-15. Another convincing step forward by Dimitrov helped to 40-15, and an unreturned opening shot brought the set into a tiebreak – 6:6.
Grigor’s forehand out led to a mini-breakthrough for his opponent at 0-2, and Tsitsipas’ phenomenal backhand-winner earned him a second – 0-3. The world number 6 did not allow relaxation in his submissions and led convincingly with 0-5, and the Bulgarian missed another forehand – 0-6. Dimitrov recorded a winning forehand for 1-6, but the set ended a point later – 6:7(1).
Grisho convincingly won his service game to start the third set, and his opponent did the same, so that the two continued the trend from the second part – 1:1. The Bulgarian started with a “false start” in the next game at 0-15, but immediately corrected himself with a quality action from the forehand. A great play (17 shots) ended, unfortunately, with Dimitrov’s lob error for 15-30. Fillet again helped Tsitsipas to a double break-ball, and the first one was reflected with a super backhand-winner on the straight – 30-40. The second stood up after the favorite tactic of serve and drive volley for deuce, but the Greek reached the third immediately thanks to an outstanding return at first. A direct point from the kick-off saved this chance as well, but again, after a wonderful return by Tsitsipas, a fourth break point was obtained. A serve and smash did the job for the Bulgarian, who then earned an advantage with an unreflected serve, and closed the almost 9-minute game with a forehand-winner.
Grisho hit a backhand-winner for 15-15, and then missed to duplicate his game by just a centimeter – 30-15. A forehand in the out of the top tennis player brought us to 40-15, and an out in the forehand of Tsitsipas made the score 2:2. Dimitrov took a 15-0 lead with a serve-forehand-winner, and added an unreturned forehand for 30-0. Another backhand winner gave him a comfortable 40-0 lead, and a straight ace completed the perfect game – 3:2.
Tsitsipas made one of his rare errors at 15-15, but then lucked out by finding the line in a difficult game for him to make it 30-15. The fillet of the net again intervened completely in favor of the Greek and brought him another point for 40-15, and the ace on the right did the job for 3:3.
A super elegant volley at the net by Grisho gave him a 15-0 lead, and ace number 5 – with 30-0. An unreturned serve was enough for 40-0, and a forced backhand of the world number 6 meant 4:3. Tsitsipas also started confidently with an ace (eighth for him), and then the Bulgarian forced a forehand on the opposite diagonal – 30-0. The Greek’s ninth ace completely relieved the tension at 40-0, and he added a tenth for 4:4.
Grisho delighted the crowd with a forehand winner on the back diagonal in a contested 30-0 game, and then Tsitsipas couldn’t hold out from the baseline – 40-0. Our top tennis player uncompromisingly closed his service game for 5:4. And the world number 6 started with a direct service point, and added another for 40-0. He also closed his game without much difficulty and continued the trend – 5:5.
Tsitsipas took a welcome point to make it 0-15 and his fans in the hall cheered, but Grisho got his own to cheer on the next play, which ended with a volley – 15-15. An exchange of lifted backhands on the diagonal ended with a mistake by the Greek to make it 30-15, and then he hit a forehand for 40-15. A backhand-winner in Dimitrov’s rights guaranteed him a tiebreak – 6:5. Tsitsipas was flawless from the kick-off and brought this extraordinary semi-final to the expected finish – 6:6.
This time, Grisho started the tiebreak with an unreturned serve for 1-0. Tsitsipas missed a volley at the net and trailed with a mini-break for 2-0, then forced a forehand for 3-0 and two mini-breaks ahead. A smash after an amazing defensive lob by the Bulgarian gave him even more comfort for 4-0. A famous backhand-winner on the diagonal made the ratio 5-0, and Tsitsipas accounted for the score just before the break – 5-1. The Greek took the second serve for 5-2, and Dimitrov stunned the crowd with a counter-attacking passing forehand for four match points. The world number 6 reflected the first and returned a mini-break with a winning forehand on the back diagonal – 6-3. A passing backhand-winner of Grisho put an end to the dispute and legitimized the Bulgarian’s final!