Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria has entered the last four of the ATP Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati after beating the new American number one player Steve Johnson 7-6(8), 6-2 on Friday, saving a set point in the first set. He next plays the 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia, who advanced after fellow countryman Borna Coric retired with a knee injury after dropping the first set 2-6.
Dimitrov will make his third appearance in the last four stage of a Masters 1000 event, his first since the Roger’s Cup in Toronto two years ago. Dimitrov and Johnson held serve through out the set to force a tie-break in the first set – which Dimitrov finally captured on his third set point after squandering two chances at 6/5 and 7/6, and saving one at 7/8. He won the last three points to clinch it 10-8. He would then go on to break in the first and fifth game and hold his own serve to win the second set 6-2.
The Bulgarian who was ranked in the top 10 three years ago, will now move into the top 30 and next plays Cilic who too has shown signs of improved form which included a come from behind win for Croatia over the U.S.A. in the Davis Cup last month.
This will be Cilic’s first semifinal appearance in 71 attempts at a Masters 1000 event, where he has had a 0-8 record in quarter finals. This year he has been a finalist in Marseille ( lost to Kyrgios) and Geneva on clay (lost to Wawrinka), and also lost to Andy Murray in the semi final of the grass court event at the Queen’s Club in London.
The other semi final will be a repeat of the Wimbledon final between Andy Murray who is on a 21 match winning streak and Milos Raonic of Canada. Both players needed just one break of service in each set. It will be the fifth meeting between the two this year. Murray leads the head to head 7-3, including the last six between the two and four in 2016.
Fourth seeded Raonic dropped only eight points on serve and never faced a break point against eighth seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria. He broke at 3-2 in the first set and at 3-3 in the second set. He will look to reach his fourth Masters 1000 final, and first at the Western and Southern Open having reached the last four in 2014.
Andy Murray who has not lost a match since losing the French Open final against Novak Djokovic in Paris on June 5, hit 10 aces against the unseeded Australian Bernard Tomic in a routine 6-4, 6-4 win in the final match of the day.
Murray won an unprecedented fifth Queen’s Club title in June on grass before regaining his Wimbledon crown after three years and then became the only player to win two Olympic gold medals in singles on August 14th in Rio as he successfully defended his 2012 London Olympics gold medal. His streak if 21 wins is his personal career best.
The following is the line up for the last four, with my pick mentioned first:-
Milos Raonic (4) (42-10) v. Andy Murray (1) (49-6), Murray leads 7-3
Marin Cilic (12) (30-17) v. Grigor Dimitrov (27-18) ; Cilic leads 2-1.
Murray is battling fatigue after his heroics in Rio, while Raonic who withdrew from Rio is fresh as a daisy. Cilic had a 6-1, 6-4 win over Dimitrov in the first round against Dimitrov at the Olympics.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]