Stan Wawrinka looks for his sixth win in a row against Grigor Dimitrov as they face off in the quarterfinals of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel on Thursday.
Wawrinka vs Dimitrov is live from Acapulco on Thursday 27 February at 8pm local/2am GMT
Wawrinka has reached the quarterfinals or better of all three events he has played in 2020, having made the semifinals in Doha before losing to Corentin Moutet and going out at the quarterfinal stage of the Australian Open to Alexander Zverev after knocking out Daniil Medvedev.
The three-time Grand Slam champion reached the semifinals of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel when it was still played on clay in 2013, and was a quarterfinalist in 2019 before being knocked out by the on-fire eventual champion Nick Kyrgios.
Currently 8-2 in 2020, Wawrinka began his Acapulco campaign with a 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(1) victory over Frances Tiafoe before taking out Spain’s Pedro Martinez – in the draw as a special exemption after reaching the quarterfinals of the Rio Open last week – 6-4, 6-4, breaking Martinez twice in each set but dropping serve twice himself. Wawrinka served at 55% but lost only three points behind his first serve, although his second was not nearly as effective – he only won a third of his second-serve points throughout the 91-minute victory.
Wawrinka is looking for his fourth ATP 500-level title in Acapulco, all three of the previous ones having come on hard courts in Rotterdam (2015), Tokyo (2015) and Dubai (2016). The Swiss star has not won a title since undergoing multiple knee surgeries in 2017, however, although he made the finals of both Antwerp and Rotterdam in 2019.
It’s a piece of bad fortune for Grigor Dimitrov that he has to play Wawrinka in the quarterfinals, because he certainly had to work extremely hard to secure that spot in the last eight, saving two match points in a contest that lasted nearly three hours against Adrian Mannarino.
Dimitrov said afterwards:
‘All I had to do was to stay in the match and fight. I don’t know why I have to make it so hard, but it [is] what it is. The atmosphere here was electric once again. I’m just going to appreciate this moment.’
Dimitrov has a good record in Acapulco, having won the title in 2014 (d. Kevin Anderson) and reached the quarterfinals on his last appearance in 2016, losing to Dominic Thiem. The former world no. 3 is once again looking for a bit of a boost after an underwhelming start to 2020, which saw him eliminated in the second round of the Australian Open by unseeded American Tommy Paul and going 1-2 on European indoor hard courts with defeats to Gregoire Barrere in Montpellier and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Rotterdam.
It was a bit disappointing after Dimitrov bounced back from missing two months due to a shoulder injury to reach the semifinals of the US Open last year, beating Roger Federer on the way to the third major semifinal of his career and hauling his ranking up from world no. 78 to world no. 26 as a result; he also ended 2019 on a strong note by reaching the semifinals of the Paris Masters before losing to Novak Djokovic.
Dimitrov’s efforts to get past Mannarino, a tricky French veteran, and win 6-7(8), 6-2, 7-6(2) to make his first quarterfinal of the season in Acapulco were not perhaps best rewarded by having to face Wawrinka, who has been something of a nemesis for Dimitrov recently. Dimitrov led the head-to-head 4-2 in 2011-16, but Wawrinka has won all five of the matches they have played in 2018-19, three of which came at Grand Slams. Dimitrov has taken only two sets in those last five matches, although their last encounter was perhaps their closest: A 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(4) victory for Wawrinka at the Cincinnati Masters last August.
I actually think the conditions in Acapulco should be good for Dimitrov – but he’s just not looking on the kind of form where I think he can live with Wawrinka from the baseline, struggling to adjust as he is to some alterations made to his racquet in the wake of that shoulder issue. Wawrinka has his own slate of physical problems to deal with day-to-day, but he has been looking more consistently like his ‘old’ self than he has since knee surgery so far in 2020 and should make it six wins in a row against Dimitrov to reach his second semifinal of the season in Acapulco.