CHENGDU, September 26, 2019 (Press Release)
Playing his first match since making the US Open semifinals three weeks ago, Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov did not disappoint as he defeated Briton Daniel Evans 7-5, 7-5 in one hour and 39 minutes to advance to the quarterfinals of the Chengdu Open.
The 28-year-old’s quality display, featuring eight aces, was only blemished by a lone hiccup when he was serving for the match at 5-3 and hit two loose unforced errors to drop serve, but the former world No.3 recovered to break Evans on his second match point in the twelfth game of the match.
“It’s my first match since US Open and for sure I had a little bit of nerves and wanted to do well. I was just trying to do what I’ve built on in the past weeks. It was a really good win, I will take it in and prepare for the next one,” said the current world No. 26, who is aiming to win his first title since lifting the biggest trophy of his career at the 2017 ATP Finals in London.
In-form Belarussian Egor Gerasimov’s giant killing ways continued from St. Petersburg as the world No.98 notched his second win against a Top 20 player in two weeks. The 26-year-old reversed a one set deficit to knock top seeded American John Isner out of the draw with a 6-7(11), 7-6(5), 7-6(4) victory in a marathon two hours and 35 minutes on Centre Court.
Both big serving players cancelled each other out for most of the match. The six-foot-ten Isner racked up 35 aces to his opponent’s 24, but while Gerasimov did not face a single break point in the match, he also could not convert either of the two opportunities he created late in the second set.
In both the second and third set tiebreaks, Isner lost mini-breaks early on and could not recover against a Gerasimov brimming with confidence.
“I’m feeling great after beating another guy from the Top 20. I’ve been working hard and I feel comfortable here on the courts in Chengdu,” said the Belarusian.
Portuguese ace Joao Sousa, who arrived in Chengdu fresh of his second semifinal of the season at St Petersburg, stunned second seeded Canadian youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4 to make the last eight here in Chengdu for the second year running.
The 30-year-old world No. 62, who lost in the semifinal last year to eventual winner Bernard Tomic, was imperious on serve and did not face a single break point throughout the match while converting one break against his 19-year-old world No. 20 opponent early in the first set and once again in the final game of the match.
Auger-Aliassime’s best moments came in the tie-break, when he hit a powerful winner down Sousa’s right for an early mini-break, executed a superb overhead smash for his second mini break in the tenth point and served his second ace of the tiebreaker in the final winning point. At 4-5 on serve in the final set, however, the teenager failed to steady his nerves and lost the tie on the second match point.
“I think it was another great match against a great player today. We both served very well today and in the end somehow I was able to make the break. I think I was a little more aggressive and tried to return as best I could so I’m happy with this win. I feel good here in Chengdu and hope I can keep going,” said the Guimaraes native, whose last title and final came in his homeland on the clay courts of Estoril last year.
Frenchman Benoit Paire’s campaign here in Chengdu was also short-lived as the number three seed crashed out of the tournament in his opening second round match. Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta marched past the world No. 23 and into his third consecutive ATP 250 quarterfinal with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory.
The Spaniard had a dismal 3-8 record against 30-year-old Paire coming into the match, losing most recently in the Winston Salem quarterfinals in August, but the world No.63 kept his focus and notched one break each in the first and third sets while winning 79% of his service points as opposed to Paire’s 64% to seize the victory.
Canadian NextGen contender Denis Shapovalov, seeded eighth in the draw, rallied from a set down to defeat American qualifier Bradley Klahn 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) in an intensely contested two hour and two minutes long match.
While both players only had three break opportunities against the other and converted one each in the first two sets, it was the 20-year-old world No.34 who set himself up for the win with early mini-breaks in the final set tiebreak to race to a 4-0 lead and deflate his world No.97 ranked opponent.
Meanwhile, 23-year-old Cristian Garin fine form this season, punctuated with two clay court titles at Houston and Munich, continued here on the Chengdu hard courts as the Chilean ace overcame a second set blip to defeat Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in one hour and 51 minutes to move into his fifth quarterfinal of the season.
Another ATP rising star, Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan, also notched an impressive win today against higher ranked Aussie world No. 54 Jordan Thompson. The 22-year-old, currently just two spots shy of his career high No. 69 achieved earlier this month, served up 13 aces en route to a commanding 6-4, 7-5 victory in 70 minutes.
South African Lloyd Harris, who lost in qualifying but came back into the main draw as a Lucky Loser, recorded another upset here in Chengdu. The 22-year-old took just 63 minutes to ease past fifth seeded Serbian Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-3 and move into his first career Tour level quarterfinal.
In doubles matches today, fourth seeded Israeli-French pair Jonathan Erlich and Fabrice Martin booked their semifinal spot with a 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 super tiebreaker victory over British pair Kyle Edmund and Daniel Evans.
American pair Taylor Fritz and Nicholas Monroe, playing as a pair for the first time here in Chengdu, moved into the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Lithuanian-Hungarian tandem Ricardas Berankis and Marton Fucsovics.
The top seeded pair featuring Croatian defending champion Ivan Dodig and 2019 partner Filip Polasek of Slovakia had to wait for Sousa to rest before playing, but clinched their semifinal berth with a 6-4, 6-3 over the Portuguese and his Moldovan partner Radu Albot.
Meanwhile, Chinese wild card duo Gao Xin and Li Zhe notched a rare victory for a local pair here in the doubles main draw of the Chengdu Open as they defeated the Canadian-Australian pair of Denis Shapovalov and Jordan Thompson 7-5, 2-6, 10-1 in one hour and 20 minutes.
All four singles quarterfinal matches will be played on Centre Court tomorrow from 1pm onwards.
The first time meeting between Dimitrov and Bublik will get things underway and will be followed by another first time encounter between Sousa and Harris. The third match on Centre Court will also be a maiden clash between two in-form players – Gerasimov and Shapovalov.
The final match of the day will see Carreno Busta and Garin facing off for a spot in the last four. Their last meeting came on the clay courts of Geneva in 2016, where the Spaniard prevailed in straight sets.
In doubles action, two quarterfinals and one semifinal match will be contested tomorrow.
The quarterfinal match between second seeds Dominic Inglot/Austin Krajicek against Fritz and Monroe will be played on Court 1 from 2pm onwards.
The match will be followed by the clash between the number one seeds, Dodig and Polsek, and the fourth seeded pair of Erlich and Martin in the only semifinal being played tomorrow.
The final Court 1 match for tomorrow will be the quarterfinal between Serbian duo Nikola Cacic and Dusan Lajovic against wild cards Gao and Li.