Dimitrov Proves The Impossible Is Possible At Indian Wells

Grigor Dimitrov (photo: ATP Tour video)

INDIAN WELLS/WASHINGTON, October 14, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Chasing after his first title since winning the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals, Grigor Dimitrov faced a tough task when he took on World No. 2 and top seed Daniil Medvedev in Wednesday’s fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in the southern California palm desert community.

Soon, the 23rd-seeded Bulgarian found himself a set down and facing a 1-4 deficit against the No. 1 seed from Russia. But as Dimitrov proved, sometimes the impossible is possible. By the end of the afternoon, the 30-year-old Dimitrov had pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season – certainly of the tournament.

The World No. 28 Dimitrov rolled back time and beat Medvedev, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, for his 21st victory of the year. He won eight straight games and 11 of the last 14 during the two-hour and 15-minute match on Stadium 1 to turn what seemed a certain defeat into a surprising win. It earned him advancement to the quarterfinal round for the first time at Indian Wells and it’s also his first ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal of the season. He will face No. 8 seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, who advanced over No. 19 seed Aslan Karatsev of Russia, 6-1, 6-3, for a berth in the semifinals.

As soon as the eight-time ATP Tour winner Dimitrov closed out his unexpected victory against Medvedev – what at first seemed like an impossible match for him to win – he raised his arms in celebration, broke out a big grin on his face, and probably also felt a sense of relief. The last time that Dimitrov defeated a top two opponent was back in 2016, when he beat Andy Murray at the Miami Open.

During his post-match interview court side, Dimitrov was asked how he managed to pull out the win? “Impossible until possible, I guess,” he said.

“[Daniil] is such a tough player and competitor,” Dimitrov added. “Over the past year-and-a-half, I have played him a few times already and I haven’t been able to find a way [to win]. But today, I just felt something at 4-1 and I calmed myself down a little bit and started to make better decisions and started to control the pace of the game, which I really believed helped me – especially in those eight games [that I won]. In the third set, I was able to work around a little bit more. In the end, it was just very solid and smart play.”

Dimitrov said he found a lot of satisfaction to not only have a chance to play against a top player but to also succeed, too. Against Medvedev, the highest-ranked player he’s beaten this year, he hit 25 winners – seven of them with his beautiful and fluid one-armed backhand – and outpointed his opponent 91-80.

“I am happy that I get the opportunity to play again at this level,” Dimitrov said. “There were lots of ups and downs and you never know what is going to happen. So, I am really trying to be appreciative of the moment I get to be out here on the court and stay humble and work.I think that is the only thing you can do and you can control. At the moment, I have a lot of gratitude toward my game and my team, toward my work and the effort that I am putting in.

“I think when you put all of that together, you start to enjoy the game a little bit more. Winning and losing seems to not have such a big press on you.”

Dimitrov (21-15) has little time to rest on his laurels as he’ll be back on court Thursday to play his quarterfinal match against Hurkacz (33-17). They are scheduled as the second match on Stadium 1 from 11 a.m. local time (8 p.m. Central European).