No one expected Grigor Dimitrov’s name to be among the US Open semifinalists. No one gave him much of a chance against Roger Federer in the quarters, after failing in seven tries to get the better of the man who plays a similar game, but who has played it better than anyone.
But here we are, with Dimitrov to face off with Daniil Medvedev on Friday. “He's been pretty focused throughout the whole summer. He's been having a great summer, a lot of confidence building up, winning Cincinnati, being already here,” said Dimitrov about his semifinal opponent, Medvedev.
“Again, it's not going to be an easy match”. You couldn’t find two opposing years for these players. Grigor Dimitrov dropped out of the Top 20 at the outset of the year. Despite a somewhat strong start to the year—making the quarterfinals at Brisbane and the fourth round in Melbourne—a shoulder inury facilitated a major dip in performance.
His ranking plummeted while his string of first round losses wrote the script that the player was washed up. Even hiring coach Andre Agassi didn’t seem to produce any substantial accomplishments. Agassi wasn’t even at the US Open to cheer on the Bulgarian’s epic win over his idol Federer, although Dimitrov said that they are still working together.
He wanted the win to stand on its own, something that only the world No. 78 ranked player could take credit for. And it was a well-earned win over the 20-time slam champ. Daniil Medvedev’s run, on the contrary, has been meteoric all year.
He rapidly skyrocketed up the ATP rankings, having made the most ATP finals this year. He won two of those finals, with the most significant indicator at the Western and Southern Open—his first Masters 1000—giving him a major confidence boost entering Flushing Meadows.
He hasn’t shown any signs of stopping. In fact, with his electric elevation into the Top 5 after that historic win, Medvedev has demonstrated all the resolve that he is the future of men’s tennis, even if the crowds in New York don’t like him.
Dimitrov is also a Masters 1000 winner (2017), having established his presence on the tennis stage at the very event that Medvedev collected his first 1000, Cincinnati. The 28-year-old Bulgarian closed out that year by achieving the ATP Finals crown and the world No.
3 ranking for the first time. But with great wins comes great expectations, and Dimitrov seemed to wilt under the pressure. Time will tell if the same occurs with the Russian 23-year-old. Although they are evenly matched in head-to-heads, having only played each other twice in 2017, Daniil Medvedev has the momentum going into the match and is the favorite.
"Next thing you know, you're almost end of the year, you have a result like that. It's pretty special to me," said Dimitrov after the Federer win. Can Grigor Dimitrov channel another inspiring run? He will need all the belief in the world and play the match of his life to book his first grand slam final spot. His ranking is sure to rise regardless of the result against Medvedev.