Dimitrov beats Del Potro for first time to reach Cincinnati quarters
(Reuters) - Grigor Dimitrov beat big-hitting Argentine Juan Martin del Potro for the first time in six career attempts to book a place in the last eight at the Cincinnati Open on Thursday.
The seventh-seeded Bulgarian advanced to his eighth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final with a 6-3 7-5 victory over Del Potro, who struggled with the intense heat in the closing stages of the one hour 39 minute match.
"He's a tricky opponent... a super-experienced player," said Dimitrov.
"I definitely had to stay away a little bit from that forehand. I knew if I kept the ball low on his backhand side and just kind of worked my way into the court, it would be the right thing to do. I think I did this thing very, very well today."
Dimitrov will bid for a place in the semi-finals for the second straight year when he faces Japan's Yuichi Sugita, who reached his first Masters 1000 quarter-final.
The unseeded Sugita overcame Russian Karen Khachanov 6-7(0) 6-3 6-3 before a thunderstorm forced play to be suspended for more than two hours.
Two months ago, the 28-year-old Japanese captured his first ATP World Tour title at the Antalya Open, adding to three ATP Challenger Tour crowns won in 2017.
"He's been playing really well," said Dimitrov. "He's going to be definitely a tough opponent to play.
"I don't underestimate his ability to play good tennis. (When) you're in the quarter-final of a Masters 1000 anything can happen. He's pretty determined, and he's pretty excited to play so that makes him even more dangerous."
Dimitrov got off to a great start by opening up a 3-0 lead against Del Potro, who failed to convert a break point on the Bulgarian's serve at 3-5, 30-40.
Del Potro mirrored Dimitrov by winning the first three games of the second set but could not convert three set point chances at 5-4, before the Argentine began to struggle in the heat.
A doctor was called at the 6-5 changeover, but Del Potro was determined to finish the match.
Dimitrov improved to 31-14 for the season, which includes two ATP World Tour titles.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in Tampa; Editing by Ken Ferris)