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Monte Carlo Masters: Davidovich Fokina, Grigor Dimitrov advance to semis

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Monaco, April 15 (IANS) Alejandro Davidovich Fokina broke new ground at the Monte Carlo Masters, overcoming 10th seed American Taylor Fritz 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinal here on Friday.

Grigor Dimitrov kept his focus to clinch a dramatic final set in a tie-break and upset Hubert Hurkacz on Friday to reach the semifinals. The World No. 29 dug deep in the face of a strong comeback from 11th seed Hurkacz to clinch a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) victory and reach an eighth Masters 1000 semifinal.

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The win takes Dimitrov to an 11-6 match record for the 2022 season. If he reaches the final in Monte Carlo he should reclaim a spot in the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings on Monday, with the Bulgarian already projected to rise to No. 23 following Friday’s win. But the former World No. 3 is refusing to look too far ahead.

The Spaniard Davidovich Fokina upset World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the second round and he demonstrated high levels of confidence against Fritz on Court Rainier III to further back up that win, after also eliminating David Goffin in the third round.

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The 22-year-old played with great intensity as he struck his groundstrokes with width to pull Fritz around the court. Davidovich Fokina consistently engaged the crowd throughout with his shotmaking and fist-pumping, advancing after two hours and 24 minutes.

“I am so, so happy. Last year I reached the quarter-finals. The emotions to be in the semi-finals are so high. I am enjoying every point. In the first set I had a lot of chances to break but I didn’t do it. But I just stayed focused and believed in myself,” Davidovich Fokina said in his on-court interview.

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The World No. 46 now leads Fritz 2-0 in their ATP head-to-head series and will next face Grigor Dimitrov in the last four.

“When you beat the World No. 1 it gives you a lot of confidence physically, mentally and technically,” Davidovich Fokina added.

Davidovich Fokina has a strong record at the clay-court event, having defeated Top 10 star Matteo Berrettini en route to the quarter-finals last season. Earlier this year he enjoyed a run to the quarter-finals in Doha, but arrived in Monte Carlo off the back of three straight defeats.

Despite the scoreline, the first set was a close affair, with Fritz playing better in the key moments as he fended off all five break points. The American did struggle with a problem with his lower left ab, but it didn’t impact his level as he crushed forehands and demonstrated great touch around the net to move ahead.

Davidovich Fokina came roaring back in the second set though, stepping deep behind the baseline to take heavy cuts at the ball as he powered his shots with fierce accuracy. The Spaniard finally broke in the ninth game before he levelled the match on his first set point, letting out a scream in delight.

The Spaniard continued to put his foot down in the second set as he looked the fresher of the two, dominating the longer exchanges to triumph.

Fritz ended Rafael Nadal’s unbeaten start to the season to lift his maiden Masters 1000 trophy in Indian Wells in March and transferred his strong hard-court form onto the clay this week at the Monte Carlo Country Club.

The 24-year-old defeated wild card Lucas Catarina, Croatian Marin Cilic and countryman Sebastian Korda to become the first American to reach the last eight in Monte Carlo since Sam Querrey in 2008.

–IANS

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