In the fourth round, Grigor Dimitrov overthrew what was becoming his bête noire on the circuit. The Bulgarian gave the surprise of the day at the Shanghai Masters 1000 and beat the main favorite, Carlos Alcaraz, 5-7, 6-2 and 6-4.
The Murcian, who from the looks of his draw seemed headed towards the semi-finals, collided with a Dimitrov whom until recently he had measured perfectly. He had defeated him in the three matches they had played, without giving up a single set, and on all possible surfaces.
But Dimitrov made sure this was not another walk by the world number two. Taking advantage of the doubts that Alcaraz had with the break balls from the previous match against Dan Evans, the Bulgarian struck first and went 2-4 up in the first set. It was not a surprise, since Dimitrov had already led a set in the previous duels, but he always struggled when it came to closing. And this was no exception. In a very good game for the rest of Alcaraz, Dimitrov was not able to seal the first set and with that break another two games in a row escaped him. He went from 3-5 to 7-5, which for a tennis player known for his poor ability to react in difficult situations and his mental weakness seemed to be a grave.
The ingredients for another easy victory for Alcaraz were there, but Dimitrov castled that it was his day. He once again laid the first stone in favor of the second set and this time he was in charge of doubling the advantage. With two breaks in his favor, closing became much less of an uphill climb for the Bulgarian, who for the first time in his career took a set from Alcaraz.
Despair and anxiety
This began to exasperate the Spaniard, who was more angry than usual, as he demonstrated with a loud scream after sending a right hand long. At that point, Alcaraz had already handed over command of the final partial. Dimitrov took advantage of a terrible rise from the Spaniard with a second serve at the net, the result of his desperation and anxiety, to break his serve. He had the match in hand, he just needed to not lose serve to score his second consecutive victory against a ‘top five’, after also beating Holger Rune in Shanghai. Curiously, before this tournament he had lost twelve matches in a row against tennis players in this ranking.
And this time his pulse did not tremble. In his next four service games, he only gave up five points in total, and with a shot he sealed the first victory of his career against Alcaraz.
The Spaniard, eliminated in the semifinals in Beijing and in the round of 16 in Shanghai, leaves the Asian tour 3,040 points behind Novak Djokovic, so the Serbian will continue to accumulate weeks at the top of the rankings until at least the ATP Finals in Turin. On the road to Turin, Djokovic leads Alcaraz with a 50-point lead.