Relentless Davidovich Fokina downs Dimitrov in Monte-Carlo to reach first final
The Spaniard’s 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 victory will move him to a career-high ranking of 27 and he’s one win away from Monte-Carlo glory
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain is through to his first ever ATP Tour final, and what a place to do it, after he beat Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-3 on Saturday in the semi-finals of the Monte-Carlo Masters.
The 22-year-old, who beat Novak Djokovic in the second round, continued his seemingly unstoppable march, breaking once in the first set and then surviving a second-set wobble and recovering from 2-0 down in the third to clinch another remarkable victory.
“I am so happy to be in the final, it’s a dream come true to try to have the title,” Davidovich Fokina said. “When I was a small kid I was dreaming about this day and it’s come true, I’m so happy.”
He expanded on this a little in his post-match press conference, saying: “I’m so happy to what I did today, the battle mentally, what I had today against Grigor. He was playing very good in the third set.
“When I was 2-0 down and he had breakpoints too, I pushed myself to the limit and after I did that, that serve I won, I pushed myself and [I was] believing in me more and more. I thought that if I was playing every point in every game…I [would have] chances, you know, and I [would] make it.”
Davidovich Fokina will play Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final and his performances this week mean he’ll rise to at least No 27 in the ATP rankings on Monday, a new career-high. For Dimitrov, it was a ninth straight loss in a semi-final.
Davidovich Fokina served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but buckled, only to produce a brilliant recovery in the third, coming from 2-0 down and saving four break points that would have given Dimitrov a double-break lead, before pulling away for victory.
On a beautiful day in Monte-Carlo, the first set was tight throughout and just one break was enough for the Spaniard as he served it out in solid fashion.
Dimitrov gathered himself, forcing his first break point of the match and taking it to go up 2-0 in the second set only to hand back the break with a double fault and two unforced errors.
Davidovich Fokina smelled blood and after holding for 2-2, he broke again to go ahead 3-2, Dimitrov’s serve and backhand letting him down at crucial moments.
The Spaniard extended his lead to 5-3 but after Dimitrov hold, Davidovich Fokina’s nerves showed as he was broken to 15. Dimitrov held for 6-5 but Davidovich Fokina regrouped to force a tiebreak, only for the Bulgarian to extend his Monte-Carlo Masters record to 6-0 to extend the match to a third.
When Dimitrov broke on his way to a 2-0 lead in the final set, it looked like he would go on to reach his second Masters 1000 title.
But Davidovich Fokina saved four break points to get on the board for 1-2 -including one with a brave underarm serve – and then turned things round in brilliant style to storm ahead 5-2.
Dimitrov held to at least force Davidovich Fokina to serve out the match but the Spaniard was up to the task, holding serve..
“In the second set I had my chances, I was so tight. But I went to the bathroom (after the second set) and I told myself I want this. Now I am in the final I will enjoy, I have all the power with me.”