Wednesday, October 13, 2021 - Grigor Dimitrov plays Daniil Medvedev plays on day 10 of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Jared Wickerham/BNP Paribas Open)
Grigor Dimitrov caused the upset of the tournament on Wednesday afternoon at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, knocking out reigning US Open champion and top seed Daniil Medvedev to reach his first Masters 1000 quarter-final this season and 14th overall in his career.
It’s safe to say this match played out in two phases.
In phase one, it was all Medvedev as the colorful Russian played to his ranking, flummoxing Dimitrov with his brick-wall defensive game from the back of the court. Each attacking forehand that the Bulgarian tried – he would chase it down. Every slice to break up Medvedev’s rhythm – it came back at Dimitrov’s feet with interest.
Counterpunching with aplomb and luring the No. 23 seed into the net with short balls only to zip passing shots right by him, Medvedev efficiently sealed the first set after 48 minutes of play.
It was more of the same in the second set, with the World No. 2 racing out to a quick 4-1 lead (that featured this incredible hotshot from Dimitrov). And that’s when phase two started.
Hitting just one unforced error in the second set up until the sixth game, Medvedev’s game suddenly went off the boil. With errors flying off the Medvedev racquet left and right, Dimitrov found himself back in the match – and growing in confidence. Cutting the errors out of his own game and dictating with power and angles he was struggling to execute in the opening set, a 1-4 deficit turned into 6-4 in the blink of an eye.
Put off (and likely shocked, as the crowd was) by the dip in his usual high standard of hard-court tennis, Medvedev quickly fell behind in the decisive set as his groundstrokes were missing their marks with eight games in a row going against him.. Though Dimitrov would go up then surrender a double-break lead, the deficit was too much for the top seed to erase, and on one last Medvedev backhand error, the Bulgarian advanced after two hours, 15 minutes.
Dimitrov ultimately edged Medvedev in each of key stats departments, playing with a massive 81 per cent first serve rate and winning 63 per cent of those points. He won six of the 10 break points he generated on Medvedev’s elite serve, and saved two of the seven he himself faced.
Up next for the likeable Bulgarian: Hubert Hurkacz, a 6-1 6-3 winner over Aslan Karatsev earlier in the day. Both Dimitrov and his quarter-final opponent have one Masters 1000 title to their name; Dimtrov winning the 2017 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and Hurkacz the surprise champion at the Miami Open earlier this season.
Earlier in the day, No. 11 seed and crowd favorite Diego Schwartzman is through to the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open for the first time in his career, producing some of his best tennis to upset No. 6 seed Casper Ruud to open up play on Stadium 1 on Wednesday at the BNP Paribas Open.
Ruud, one of the most in-form, fastest-rising players on tour this season, started off the match flat against Schwartzman, who has been playing with house money since saving match points against Maxime Cressy in his opening match last week. The Argentine was quick to capitalize, breaking in the opening game.
The Norwegian, a tour-leading five-time titlist in 2021, was able to find his lethal topspin forehand to save another break point in the fifth game, but it was too little, too late with Schwartzman launching his 5-foot-6 frame into his shots and keeping Ruud out of rhythm. Attempting to change his tactics to even the score, Ruud was able to generate break points down 3-4, but couldn’t capitalize as Schwartzman threaded the needle on ill-timed forays into the net.
Misfiring on his backhand in the very next game, the World No. 15 broke once more to secure the set and move within striking distance of the Final Eight in the desert.
In the second set, Ruud managed to manufacture an early lead despite some discomfort in his right elbow, finally breaking Schwartzman serve with an impressive combination of massive forehands and perfectly-placed lobs. He was unable to maintain the lead, however, with his 29-year-old opponent raising his level to not only break back a few games later, but break once again and serve for the match.
After one hour and 44 minutes of play, the win was Schwartzman’s – his first over Ruud this year after dropping their previous two encounters on the Norwegian’s preferred clay courts.