Shanghai: Grigor Dimitrov fought back to beat top seed Carlos Alcaraz in three sets and reach the quarter-finals on Wednesday in the latest upset at the Shanghai Masters.
The 18th seed won 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 against an out-of-sorts Alcaraz as the Bulgarian steps up his pursuit of a first ATP title since 2017.
He will next face the 22nd-seeded Nicolas Jarry after the Chilean defeated wild card Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 5-7, 6-3
The first Shanghai Masters since the pandemic has opened up for Dimitrov after the early exits of Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Holger Rune.
World No 1 Novak Djokovic is not in China. “I’m still here, I’m not going anywhere,” the 32-year-old Dimitrov said afterwards.
Spain’s Alcaraz, the world number two, was chasing a seventh tour-level title of the season but he uncharacteristically crumbled after winning the first set.
Finding the range
The 20-year-old Alcaraz took time to find his range and Dimitrov broke for 3-2 in the first set with a vicious whipped forehand return.
Dimitrov was broken back as he served for the set in a riveting 10th game involving two thrilling rallies that both times saw Alcaraz come out on top.
Alcaraz held and then broke again to wrap the set up in just under an hour.
But rather than power on to victory, Alcaraz let the match get away from him.
Dimitrov gathered himself to race into a 2-0 lead in the second set, then broke again for 5-2, before sealing the set when Alcaraz shanked his return.
They went to a decider and an unusually flustered Alcaraz was broken in the third game after yet another unforced error.
Alcaraz let out a roar of anger as the match slipped away from him.
Held his nerve
Dimitrov held his nerve to serve out his first victory over the Spaniard on his second match point.
“In the third set it was a bit cat and mouse,” said Dimitrov.
“I knew I had to apply constant pressure on him.”
Later in the day, American 12th seed Tommy Paul plays Russian Andrey Rublev — the highest remaining seed in the draw at five.
The winner meets Ugo Humbert of France in the quarter-finals after the 32nd seed demolished J.J. Wolf of the United States 6-1, 6-2 in just 57 minutes.