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Monfils beats heat and Dimitrov for quarterfinal berth

By Elena Scuro
Tuesday, September 2, 2014

WHAT HAPPENED: He entered Arthur Ashe Stadium before the match listening to Beyonce’s “Partition,” but there was no divide in No. 20 seed Gael Monfils’ consistency throughout his US Open fourth round match. He also entered as the underdog against No. 7 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria. The Frenchman left the winner after upseting the youngest member of the ATP World Tour Top 10, 7-5, 7-6, 7-5 after 2 hours and 24 minutes of exhausting tennis on the hottest day of the summer.

Despite temperatures soaring into the 90s turning the court into a sauna, the tennis was very fast paced as the players quickly got to 5-all without a break point in the first set in 27 minutes, In the 11th game, Monfils, 28, converted his first break point opportunity for a 6-5 lead on a Dimitrov error. The Frenchman then held at love to grab the set in 34 minutes.

In the second set, Dimitrov, 23, who had Australian golfing great Greg Norman in his box, was unable to convert an early break point chance. In the fourth game with the Bulgarian serving, Monfils broke on his second chance thanks to a double fault for a 3-2 lead. Dimitrov went on to break back for 4-all with a loud “come on!”

Monfils seemed to have lost his cool in the second set when, while talking to himself in French, he oddly returned a Dimitrov serve from the service line as the Bulgarian held for 5-4.

In the second set tiebreak, the pair traded mini breaks and a forehand error gave Dimitrov a 6-4 lead and two set points to level the match. Two errors from Dimitrov helped Monfils save both set points. Monfils went up 7-6 on a Dimitrov forehand error and then grabbed the tiebreak, 8-6, on another forehand mishit.

In third game of the final set, Monfils faced two break points but saved both and won the game with an ace to stay on serve 2-1. An unusual delay in the fourth game occurred as Dimitrov required a new pair of shoes, giving the two players a quick break from the hot temperatures. In the fifth game, Dimitrov showed off his great touch at net with a crafty drop shot, which even Monfils applauded.

Up 6-5, Monfils got to two match points on Dimitrov’s serve. He needed only one when Dimitrov double faulted.

After his win, Monfils, thanked the crowd, saying: “I love to play here. Such a good energy. I just feel good. I’m happy.”

In his post-match press conference, Dimitrov said: "Where should I begin? Just a bad match for me. Didn't play as close to the way I wanted to, and I think it was a great stage for me to come out on there on the center court and perform my best. Just everything went the opposite way today."

WHAT IT MEANS: Back into the US Open quarterfinals for the first time since 2010, Monfils will face the winner of the No. 2 seed and five-time champion Roger Federer of Switzerland and No. 17 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain match. The Paris native will look to equal his career best Grand Slam result (2008 semifinals at Roland Garros).

THE QUESTION: Can Monfils make a run to the final in New York this year for his best result at a Grand Slam?