Grigor Dimitrov maintained his strong record at Thursday’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters by defeating fourth-seeded Casper Ruud 6-3, 7-5 to reach the quarterfinals for the fourth time.
The Bulgarian hit Court Rainier III with controlled aggression throughout, at times going deep behind the baseline to hit the ball with big slices as his groundstrokes dictated progress after an hour and 31 minutes.
“I was really looking forward to the game,” Dimitrov said in his on-pitch interview. “I knew if I did the right things, good things would come out of it. Casper is such a great player on any surface. He proved it time and time again at such a young age, which is nice to see. I liked this matchup and wanted to see where I am physically and mentally. I just played and enjoyed the game.”
The world No. 29 has a history of playing some of his best tennis matches at the ATP Masters 1000 clay-court event, reaching the last eight in 2013 and 2015 and the semifinals in 2018.
Dimitrov, making his ninth appearance in Monte Carlo, has also had victories over the years against 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, former world No. 7 Fernando Verdasco and world No. 6 Matteo Berrettini at the tournament .
“It’s always difficult this week because you change the surface,” added Dimitrov. “So I try not to be too hard on myself in training. I’m just trying to do the simple things. It’s going so well so far.”
Dimitrov has now leveled his ATP Head2Head streak to 1-1 with Ruud and next meets 11th seed Hubert Hurkacz after the Pole defeated Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6(2), 6-2.
After his victory over the Norwegian, Dimitrov has already recorded as many wins on clay in 2022 as in all of last season. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion surfaced 3-8 in 2021 while he is 3-0 this year.
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Dimitrov dominated the longer rallies in the opener, winning 19 of 29 points spanning five shots as he dictated the backhand exchanges. Ruud had more success aiming for Dimitrov’s forehand, but from 1-5 down in the first set, the mountain was too big to climb.
The second set was a much closer affair as both players were strong on serve. No break points were offered until game 12 of the set, when Dimitrov produced an impressive return leg to advance with his third match point.
“Despite certain moments, I felt like I was making the right decisions,” said Dimitrov. “You don’t have to complicate things. I read the game well, which helped me a lot. I made a lot of returns which gave me an advantage to start scoring aggressively.”
Ruud, who has won six tour-level titles on clay, reached his maiden Masters 1000 final at the Itau-presented Miami Open in early April. The Norwegian advanced to the semifinals in Monte Carlo in 2021, defeating #NextGenATP Dane Holger Rune in his first match of the week.
Taylor Fritz carries over his strong hardcourt results to clay this week, with the 10th seedling winning an all-American fight against Sebastian Korda on Thursday in Monte Carlo.
The 24-year-old won his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells in March and has now reached the quarterfinals in four of the last five Masters 1000 events after beating Korda 7-6(4), 7-5 . Fritz is the first American to reach the last eight in Monte Carlo since Sam Querrey in 2008.
“I thought the match was pretty good today,” said Fritz. “I’ve been waiting for his return. I think I did a good job mixing all my spots. I parried his returns on my second serves, which was the main focus. The conditions were really good today, so I was able to play my best match.”
Fritz, making his third appearance at the Monte Carlo Country Club, will next play Alejandro Davidovich Fokina after the Spaniard, who shocked world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, went on in the second round, 6-4, 6 at the Marrakesh -Master David Goffin passed. 1.