Citi Open: Dimitrov Shares What It Means To Win On And Off Court

Grigor Dimitrov (photo: Peter Staples/Citi Open)

WASHINGTON, August 4, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

It’s not often that a tennis player gets to take a few weeks off to refresh and reset following an injury. However, that’s exactly what happened to Grigor Dimitrov. No regrets.

The 19th-ranked, 31-year-old from Bulgaria who now resides in Monte Carlo went home following a leg injury suffered at Wimbledon. A month later, he’s resurfaced as the No. 5 seed at the ATP 500 Citi Open in Washington, D.C. On Wednesday afternoon, Dimitrov defeated unseeded Adrian Mannarino of France, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5, in two hours, two minutes on Court 4. He remains undefeated against the 67th-ranked Mannarino.

“I obviously haven’t competed in quite some time, so it’s very good to come out and win a match,” Dimitrov said during an insightful and philosophical post-match press conference. “A little bit difficult, but you know, it is what it is. I’m moving on, and I have to stay on point and stay focused for what’s coming.”

What’s coming on Thursday for Dimitrov is a third-round match against No. 54 Sebastian Korda of the United States, who was impressive in taking out No. 12 seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina in straight sets.

“Last but not least, I hope my body keeps on staying, you know, good and healthy and being able to work every day, which I think will help me a lot for the future.”

During an insightful 10-minute press conference with reporters, Dimitrov reflected on his mindset, both in handling the recovery after Wimbledon and in coming into his first match, against Mannarino, since retiring in the first round against American Steve Johnson.

“I just wanted to take some time away,” Dimitrov reflected. “I think you don’t get the chance to be away from tennis throughout the whole year, and Wimbledon, when I got a little injured, I just thought to myself, just take that time away, disconnect, now is the time. And I felt like that was my silver lining just right there.

“I was just home, enjoying, resting, doing so many other things that had nothing to do with tennis,” Dimitrov continued. “But of course, [I] kept on working on my body, on myself. I think overall, that’s all I did. Nothing too crazy. Nothing extra.

“I was just able to really, yeah, I was really able to just enjoy. I think that’s something that I really appreciate throughout the year, when you have like a little time off, to really disconnect. All in all, I started practicing, and then I think I was ready to come out here.

“Of course, I think [it was a] very difficult match today. I mean, I have played Adrian so many times, and I felt like it’s just never easy, for some reason. He doesn’t give me enough rhythm, I think. Even though I played such a good first set, I wasn’t able to finish in straight sets. Obviously, that’s going to cost a little bit more energy from me.

“But I feel good. I’m going to really try to focus for [Thursday’s] match. I mean, I’m excited to play every day at the moment. I think good things ahead.”

Around the Citi Open

• Unseeded and ranked 99th going up against No. 6 seed Denis Shapovalov? No problem for American wild card J.J. Wolf in a battle of 23-year-olds, which the former Ohio State Buckeye won 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3 in two hours and 17 minutes on the Grandstand court. It moved him into the third round against ninth seed Holger Rune with a berth in Friday’s quarterfinals at stake. Wolf overcame 20 aces by Shapovalov and won 81 percent of his first-serve points.

• It was a good day for the American men as No. 3 seed Taylor Fritz and Sebastian Korda also advanced with easy victories. Fritz defeated Alexei Popyrin of Australia, 6-4, 6-3, and Korda advanced over No. 12 seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina, 6-1, 6-4, in the battle of Sebastians on John Harris court. Fritz will face No. 16 seed Daniel Evans of Great Britain in Thursday’s third round while Korda will oppose No. 5 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.

Also, 13th seed Maxime Cressy rallied to beat fellow American Jack Sock, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, on John Harris court to gain payback following Sock’s recent Wimbledon second-round win. Cressy will play No. 1 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia Thursday evening in the Stadium.

Later, No. 10 seed Frances Tiafoe defeated wild card Christopher Eubanks, 6-3, 7-6 (2), in a spirited battle on the Stadium Court that lasted an hour and 22 minutes.

Finally, No. 4 seed Reilly Opelka fired 28 service aces and won 79 percent of his first-serve points en route to beating fellow American Denis Kudla, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-4, on John Harris court. He advanced against No. 63 Nick Kyrgios of Australia, who held off No. 14 seed Tommy Paul of the United States, 6-3, 6-4, in an hour and 25 minutes on Stadium court in back of 15 aces and an 84-percent efficiency in winning points on his first serve.

• No. 71 Anna Kalinskaya of Russia advanced to Friday’s quarterfinal round after former World No. 1 and tournament third seed Simona Halep retired from their match due to an undisclosed illness. Kalinskaya led 7-5, 2-0 when the match was called on the Stadium court.

Kalinskaya improved to 7-1 (including qualifying matches) at the Citi Open She was a semifinalist in 2019 after qualifying for the main draw. Next, she will play No. 6 Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, who advanced with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 97 Zhu Lin of China, Wednesday evening on the Grandstand court.

• In an unseeded doubles battle among popular tour veterans, Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, both from France, defeated Jamie Murray of Great Britain and Bruno Soares of Brazil, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 10-4 to advance to the quarterfinals against Aussie-American duo Nick Kyrgios and Jack Sock. The French pair have won seven tour-level titles as a team, most recently winning at Tokyo in 2019.

Also, No. 4 seeds Ivan Dodig of Croatia and American Austin Krajicek defeated Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland and Luke Saville of Australian, 6-4, 6-4, to advance against Daniel Evans of Great Britain and John Peers of Australia.

Wednesday’s Citi Open ATP results

Wednesday’s Citi Open WTA results

Thursday’s Citi Open order of play

By the numbers

Taylor Fritz improved to 17-5 on hard courts this season with his victory over Alexei Popyrin.

Sebastian Korda has won both of his Citi Open matches in straight sets.

Daria Saville‘s upset win over No. 1 seed Jessica Pegula was her second Top-10 win this season and improved her record against Top-20 competition this season to 3-3.

“Quotable …”

“Huge. I mean, I think the closer, closer you get to the business end of the week, I think big points, big opportunities. Playing here in D.C., honestly, I mean, it could be if it was a 250 or whatever, it’s here in D.C., 500. I mean, to win this tournament would mean the world to me. I have been coming to this tournament since I was four years old. To have my name around the stadium would mean a lot to me.”