A spot in the semifinals at Queen’s Club awaits the winner when sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov battles Daniil Medvedev. Medvedev is in his second straight grass quarterfinal after doing the same at the Ricoh Open last week. Dimitrov is seeking his first semifinal since winning the Sofia Open in February.
(6) Grigor Dimitrov vs Daniil Medvedev
It’s been a good bounce back week in London for Dimitrov after he was taken down in his opener in Stuttgart last week by Jerzy Janowicz. Dimitrov worked past Julien Benneteau 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the last round. The sixth seed was superb on serve, taking 63 of the 80 points played. He was broken just one time on six chances. Dimitrov made the most of just a few chances against the Frenchman, securing two breaks on four chances. For the week, Dimitrov has now converted on six of eleven break opportunities and suffering just the one break of his own serve.
Medvedev again proved to be too much for Thanasi Kokkinakis in a second straight week. The Russian blasted pass the Aussie this time 6-2, 6-2 as Kokkinakis appeared to have little left in the tank after upsetting third seed Milos Raonic in the previous round. Medvedev was nearly flawless on serve, taking 32 of 36 points. He smashed 12 aces to bring his total to 20 through two rounds. He was all over Kokkinakis’ serve, winning 25 of 53 points. He broke Kokkinakis four times after the Aussie was not broken at all against Raonic.
Russian Uprising or Getting Griggy With It ?
For Medvedev, it is a second straight grass quarterfinal. Last week, he also beat Kokkinakis to get to the quarters and then fell to Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 6-4. Will history repeat this week? He’s definitely facing a different task this week in Dimitrov. Certainly Dimitrov’s serve does pick up some “oomph” on grass, but it’s not in the class of Karlovic’s power. Then of course, the Russian will be facing a much larger variety off the ground from Dimitrov.
Medvedev has not proved well against Top 20 players so far this season, losing to both Lucas Pouille and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga indoors in February. He also was forced to retire in Davis Cup play after Novak Djokovic wore him down and had him trailing two sets to one after Medvedev took the opener from the Serb. And in his first ATP final, he lost to another Top 20 player, Roberto Bautista Agut, in straight sets in Chennai. It will be interesting to see if Medvedev is learning from these losses and ready to bust out or still not yet ready for prime time.
Dimitrov will be looking for his best result in the last four months. It’s been tough on the Bulgarian are a red hot start to 2017. Remember at one point, Dimitrov was 16-1 in early February. He’s just 7-9 since that point, but appears to be putting things together on a comfortable surface. Most of the 25-year-old’s “slumps” during his career to this point seem to be mental more than physical. He’s talked openly in the past about feeling insecure at-times on the court and it’s translated to shaky decision making and losses.
Even in his loss last week to Janowicz, there was a bit more of a sense of confidence with the switch to grass. Dimitrov served well for the most part in his first match on the surface this year and he’s grown even more comfortable this week. For Dimitrov, the game between the ears seems so much more important than his game on the court. He’s got most every shot needed to win, it’s just a matter of proper shot selection and being confidence in making those decisions. Against a younger player, the confidence should remain high.
There isn’t a lot of surprise to Medvedev’s game on this surface. He’s going to serve big and then he’s going to try to hammer his forehand repeatedly. Dimitrov has to match Medvedev’s serve to keep things even early on. That likely won’t be an issue based on how the sixth seed is serving this week. Even when he’s gotten into a little trouble, he’s been able to save those key points. The Russian simply wants those big serves to produce easy points or put him into positions of power, where he can finish some quick 1-2 punches with his forehand.
For Dimitrov, he has to find a way to get his racquet on Medvedev’s serve and get the ball back across the net. When he can get Medvedev into rallies, it should benefit the sixth seed due to his variety off both wings. Dimitrov’s ability to slice off his backhand from different angles should help him to avoid some of the power off Medvedev’s forehand. I would also expect Dimitrov to come to the net when he sees fit in order to keep Medvedev honest. If he allows the Russian to dictate action from the baseline, the Medvedev is going to have a legit shot to do damage in this match.
The Pig’s Bottom Line
Medvedev certainly isn’t without a chance here. His power has translated very well to grass and you can see the confidence level he has with each win. The big question is whether he can step up and beat a top tier player. Dimitrov may not have arrived with that moniker due to his results of late, but his play to this point has been good. He’s still a player lurking just outside the Top 10 and thus would be a big scalp for the Russian.
Dimitrov has had some issues with power players on grass since his marvelous 2014 on the surface, where he won at Queen’s Club and made the Wimbledon semifinals. If there is a surface that Medvedev can spring his best ATP result, this is it. I’m just not sure that he’s there yet. An upset won’t be shocking to me, but I am going to go with Dimitrov finding a way.