The 23rd seed rolled back the years as he battled back from 4-6, 1-4 down to move past the Russian 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 and reach the quarter-finals in Indian Wells for the first time.
“He is such a tough player and competitor,” Dimitrov said in his on-court interview. “Over the past year, I have played him a few times and haven’t been able to find a way. But today, I just felt something at 1-4 and I calmed myself down and started to take better decisions and started to control the pace of the game, which I really believed helped me. In the end it was just very solid and smart play.”
After appearing in total control, Medvedev lost his way, making just 34 per cent of his first serves in the second set as Dimitrov forced the World No. 2 into errors with his aggressive game. The Bulgarian won eight straight games and eventually advanced after two hours and 16 minutes.
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It is the first time Dimitrov has defeated a top two opponent since 2016, when he overcame Andy Murray in Miami. The World No. 28 has now reduced his ATP Head2Head deficit with Medvedev to 2-3. Dimitrov will next face eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz after the Pole defeated Russia’s Aslan Karatsev 6-1, 6-3.
“I am happy that I get the opportunity to play again at this level,” Dimitrov added. “There were lots of ups and downs and you never know what is going to happen, so I am really trying to be appreciative of the moment I get to be out here on the court and work and stay humble. That is the only thing you can control.”
With his victory, the eight-time tour-level champion is into the quarter-finals at an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time this season. Dimitrov enjoyed a run to the last eight at the Australian Open in January, where he also beat a top five player, then-World No. 3 Dominic Thiem.
In a lively start, Medvedev showcased his current confidence in the first game, breaking Dimitrov immediately to take control. The Russian won 80 per cent (16/20) of his first-serve points in the opening set as he hit with great length, committing just five unforced errors as he moved ahead.
Medvedev then raced into a 4-1 lead in the second set, with Dimitrov unable to hit through the World No. 2. However, from a double-break down, Dimitrov began to find his best tennis. The Bulgarian rolled off five straight games to level as he played aggressively, while Medvedev lost focus from the baseline and on serve.
Fuelled by momentum, Dimitrov, who hit 25 winners in the match, did not let up as he continued to frustrate Medvedev in the decider. He continued to approach the net effectively and sealed his victory when Medvedev hit a forehand long.
Medvedev had won 18 of his past 19 matches on North American soil, capturing his fourth Masters 1000 title in Toronto and his first major at the US Open. The Russian was aiming to reach the quarter-finals in Indian Wells for the first time.