With a semifinal win over American John Isner, World No. 11 Grigor Dimitrov is into his first career Masters 1000 final.
Isner made the feat as difficult as he could. The Bulgarian had to bear the brunt a tough match against Isner, a 2013 Cincinnati Masters finalist, and prevailed in a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (10) very disquietude semifinal on Saturday afternoon.
World No. 11 Dimitrov, who lost out at this very stage to eventual champion Marin Cilic last year, will play Nick Kyrgios Sunday for the title.
Fans rooted on 19 ranked Isner as he saved three match points, but Dimitrov took advantage of a fourth opportunity after the American hit a return into the net. The second set lasted for 74 minutes.
Dimitrov’s ability to limit his unforced errors played a huge role in the outcome of the match. Isner garnered 28 miscues to Dimitrov’s nine throughout, and 18 of Isner’s unforced errors came in the concluding set alone.
The match was, for the most part, immensely evenly matched. Isner and Dimitrov held serve in turn throughout the first set, peppering one another with aces and stride-for-stride play. About the only difference in their scoring was Dimitrov’s 20% efficiency on winning second serve points, compared to Isner’s 60%.
John Isner held serve to knot the set at six and ensure the tiebreak. Grigor Dimitrov eventually rattled off three straight points and vaulted ahead 5-2.
Dimitrov never let Isner move towards the right course in the second set, thus securing his first Masters semifinal victory in four career tries.
It took more than two hours and neither player executed a service break, but Kyrgios outlasted David Ferrer in a 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4) semifinal on Saturday night.
Kyrgios who is currently ranked No. 23in the World bested the 31st-ranked Spaniard by finding separation in the tiebreaks.
Ferrer, a 2014 Western and Southern Open runner up, mixed in drop shots and long returns but couldn’t break through against his 13-years-younger opponent.
Kyrgios won the first tiebreaker enthusiastically with a blazing forehand shot in the open court. He accelerated his game in the final points of the second-set tiebreaker, too.
Kyrgios served up 14 aces in a very keenly contested match.
En route to the semi’s he had an impressive run, dispatching World No. 13 David Goffin in straight sets 6-2, 6-3. He then secured a bigger victory over Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-5.
This week has been a fantastic week for the young Australian, who’s in search of his first title this year. If he wins Sunday, he’ll be the lowest-ranked Cincinnati Masters champion since Tom Gorman who was ranked No. 49 in 1975.
After the match Kyrgios said “To be honest, it was a tough match. He was a nightmare to play, especially because, I’m a tall guy and he’s not the tallest guys. He hits the ball pretty flat. You know, the whole time there is nothing shoulder height for me to hit. I’m always trying to hit underneath and trying to hit up and over it.”
Ferrer also had this to say – “I didn’t have chance in the second tiebreak. I played good, but I need serve. I’m missing all the match. And in important moments with the second serve, he played aggressive. He serve, you know, (more) than 130 miles.”
Moving to the the female category
Garbine Muguruza defeated current world number one Karolina Pliskova in a reapeat of last year’s semifinal clash at the Cincinnati Masters Saturday afternoon.
The result was different from the outcome of last year’s conquest.
Muguruza, eased past the top-seeded Czech 6-3, 6-2 on Center Court at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason and secured for her a slot in her first ever WTA tournament final outside Europe.
Pliskova’s loss ensures that a new winner will emerge on Sunday as she is the defending champion. It also brings about a possible change in the top five positions of the WTA rankings.
Muguruza had this to say after the game – “Today I think I was very precise with my shots. I also played very well. I don’t know. I wanted just to be more aggressive, you know, trying to take my shots, don’t think a lot about her, because I know she played very aggressive as well. I’m working hard on trying to face these aggressive opponents. So today I felt a little bit better.”
Pliskova will remain world No. 1 if second-ranked Simona Halep does not win the Cincinnati Masters. If Halep wins the championship, she’ll become No. 1 on the WTA ranking for the first time in her career.
Pliskova had this to say after the game – “Whatever happens, happens (with the ranking). I think there is a lot of girls has chances this week, next week. Obviously with me losing some points, which was different on the grass, different girls were defending points. I think it’s pretty open for everybody,” .
World No. 6 Muguruza propounded herself from the start of the game, delivering a nasty backhand that helped her go up a break. Her Czech opponent fumbled through three unforced errors before firing an ace but was unable to salvage the game.
Considering Muguruza’s crispness and efficiency, Pliskova could ill-afford nine early unforced errors and two double-faults. Muguruza won every first-serve point in her first two games and kept her opponent scrambling with consistent ground strokes.
Pliskova requested her coach after holding serve to make it 4-3, Muguruza. But the Spaniard breezed to a 5-3 edge by holding serve and punctuating the game with an ace.
Muguruza provided even greater separation by breaking Pliskova again. She wrapped up the first set in 36 minutes.
Pliskova turned up her game in the second set and successfully extended rallies, but Muguruza remained dominant.
Pliskova also squandered three crucial break point opportunities and the Spaniard exacted a break to vault ahead 4-2. Then, after Pliskova fended off four match points, Muguruza made good on the fifth to secure the win.
Pliskova said her energy was low due to playing three matches in 24 hours. She had to win a Round of 16 match and a quarterfinal Friday because of Thursday’s rain-abbreviated schedule.
Facing an opponent of Muguruza’s caliber in that scenario was a tough prospect.
In the other female semifinals Simona Halep converted five break points on her way to a 6-2, 6-1 victory over wild card Sloane Stephens, setting the stage for a mouth-watering women’s final with the Western & Southern Open title on the line. against Garbine Muguruza.
Halep was two breaks up early in the first set. Stephens never found her stride, battling 20 unforced errors throughout the match up.
With the crowd behind the American, Stephens held serve to start the second set. But she was broken soon after and Halep continued to dominate.
The Romanian went on to convert 91% of her second serve points and delivered 11 winners.
Stephens was the first wild card to reach the final four since Venus Williams did in 2012. The W&S Open also was only her fourth tournament since returning from left foot surgery. The injury kept her out of competitive tennis for 11 months.
Halep is the only player in the tournament who is yet to drop a set, improved her supremacy over Stephens to 5-2 in all-time meetings.
Moving to the men’s doubles events.
Third-seeded Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares defeated second-seeded Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 6-4, 7-5 for a spot in Sunday’s men’s doubles championship.
Murray and Soares, the reigning US Open champions, converted two break points in the match. That was all they needed to dispatch the recently-crowned Wimbledon champs in a Saturday semifinal on Grandstand Court.
Murray and Soares await the winner of the semifinal between Ryan Harris/Michael Venus and fifth-seeded Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut.