Grigor Dimitrov experiences much-needed US Open renaissance

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Grigor Dimitrov experiences much-needed US Open renaissance

Heading to the US Open with four wins in the last 16 matches since Monte Carlo, Grigor Dimitrov needed a favorable draw more than ever, bowing from the top-70 for the first time since 2012! After reaching the third round at Roland Garros, Grigor suffered seven defeats in eight matches, bowing out to Stan Wawrinka in the first round in Montreal and Cincinnati and hitting rock bottom in Atlanta where world no.

405 Kevin King toppled him in straight sets, facing no less than 23 break chances and often looking completely lost on the court. A talented player and an up-and-coming junior had to wait until 2014 to show his full potential and crack the top-10, losing ground with the leading players again in the next couple of years (three finals lost in 2016) before gathering all the elements of his game in 2017 when we saw his peak tennis.

Using a friendly draw in Cincinnati, the Bulgarian claimed the first Masters 1000 crown with a win over Nick Kyrgios, settling into the top-10 and making the first appearance at the ATP Finals where he drew the most from the draw and some unexpected results, scoring five triumphs to become the champion and world no.

3! The beginning of 2018 was also very promising with the semi-final in Brisbane, semi-final at the Australian Open and final in Rotterdam. Nonetheless, things went from bad to worse for the Bulgarian after that, never finding the winning rhythm again and staying without the semi-final run or the top-20 win after Monte Carlo!

Grigor couldn't change his fortune in the first half of 2019 as well, bothered with a shoulder injury and lacking the momentum or confidence that would have carried him towards the position he had before. As we already mentioned, Grigor had nothing in his hands when he arrived in New York except that good draw, with Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek who decided to leave him alone out there, speaking only by phone.

With nothing to lose, Grigor kicked off the US Open campaign with a 6-1, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Andreas Seppi in two hours and 42 minutes, taming his shots more effectively than in the previous weeks and looking better on the return as well.

Borna Coric gave Grigor a walkover in the second round and the Bulgarian's campaign looked better and better after a 7-5, 7-6, 6-2 win over Kamil Majchrzak in two hours and 17 minutes. Unlike in the previous year or so, Grigor was there to have the advantage in the tight sets and pivotal points, getting broken only once and stealing Kamil's serve four times with 41 winners and 28 unforced errors, happy with the way he performed and waiting for more in the rest of the tournament.

The young Aussie Alex de Minaur stood between Dimitrov and the first Grand Slam quarter-final in a year and a half, with the Bulgarian delivering a 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 win in just over two hours, playing against only one break chance and making enough damage on the return to sail through in straight sets and reach the ultimate goal once he saw the draw, to set Roger Federer's clash in the quarters.

Facing each other for the eighth time, Grigor Dimitrov toppled Roger Federer for the first time to reach the US Open semi-final, prevailing 3-6 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in three hours and 12 minutes. Thus, world no. 78 became the lowest-ranked player in the Grand Slam semi-final since Rainer Schuettler at Wimbledon 2008 and at the US Open since Jimmy Connors in 1991, advancing into the last four for the first time since Monte Carlo 2018!

Roger gave his best to continue where he left against Daniel Evans and David Goffin but it wasn't enough to beat the Bulgarian, taking sets one and three but losing those in between to find himself away from the semi-final, failing to win the US Open crown for the 11th straight years after five in a row between 2004-08.

The Swiss had to take the medical timeout after the fourth set and never stood a chance in the decider to propel Grigor through, with the Bulgarian facing the young Russian Daniil Medvedev in the battle for the final. Dimitrov tamed his shots nicely and bounced back after losing sets one and three, keeping faith in his game and never losing focus, defending ten out of 14 break points and earning five breaks on the other hand to advance into the next round.

Federer sprayed too many errors in the end thanks to that deciding set, wasting his opportunities to close the match before going to the distance and having to settle with the quarter-final run. Roger was off to a flying start, taking 14 of the first 17 points to grab a 3-0 lead and keep it up throughout the set for a 6-3 before Grigor bounced back in the second, moving 5-2 in front with a break in game six and looking good to level the overall score at 1-1.

Federer broke back in game nine but couldn't use that momentum, suffering another break at 4-5 to hand the set to his rival in what would turn out to be one of the pivotal moments of the entire clash. Despite this setback, Federer returned stronger in the third set, stealing Dimitrov's serve in games seven and nine for a 6-3 and moving a set away from the finish line and the place in the last four.

Ready to fight until the end, Grigor earned a break at the beginning of the fourth set and defended it nicely, repelling five break chances at 5-4 in another very important moment to take the set 6-4 and force a decider.

Struggling with an injury, Federer took a medical timeout but it didn't help him, taking one point on the return in the fifth set and suffering breaks in games one and three to hand the triumph to his rival who moved over the top with a hold at love in game eight.

With these points, Grigor is back inside the top-25 but he certainly wants more against Daniil Medvedev in the semi-final, hoping to become the sixth-youngest Major finalist and use this inspired US Open campaign as a springboard for much brighter future and the ranking position he had two years ago.