By Blair Henley
Grigor Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios are the last men standing in Cincinnati. Both battling for their first ATP Masters 1000 title, they will go head-to-head for a chance to take home the Rookwood Cup at the Western & Southern Open on Sunday.
Dimitrov dispatched John Isner in two tiebreak sets on Semifinal Saturday, saving three set points before clinching the win on his third match point. A semifinalist here last year, the 26-year-old Bulgarian has yet to drop a set this week.
“I take a lot of positivity out of that match, and I'm just building up,” he said. “Tomorrow is the same thing for me. Just another match that I just want to come out and play the best way that I can. That's all I can count on right now.”
Dimitrov has had a resurgent 2017, collecting two titles and briefly reentering the top-10 for the first time since early 2015. After his win over Isner, he admitted adding a Masters 1000 title to this season’s haul would have special significance.
“[It] is something I can obviously check off my list,” Dimitrov said. “I always had higher goals for myself, and I think the biggest pressure I'm putting on myself, it comes from me.”
Dimitrov has won his only previous meeting against Kyrgios, taking out the 22-year-old in a third-set tiebreak at Indian Wells in 2015. Based on the Aussie’s play this week, we can expect a similar contest on Sunday.
Kyrgios, currently ranked No. 23 in the world, pulled out of three straight tournaments this summer due to hip and shoulder injuries, finally notching two wins last week in Toronto before falling in the round of 16.
After his first-round upset of David Goffin here in Cincinnati, he said he “wasn’t close” to 100 percent physically. But he gradually found his rhythm with subsequent wins over Alexandr Dolgopolov, Ivo Karlovic and his surprisingly comprehensive victory over soon-to-be world No. 1 Rafael Nadal on Friday night.
The unseeded 22-year-old continued his roll against David Ferrer on Saturday, advancing to his first ATP Masters 1000 final with a 7-6(3), 7-6(3) victory. Should he beat Dimitrov on Sunday, he would be the lowest-ranked Western & Southern Open champion since No. 49 Tom Gorman in 1973.
“If he's feeling it, he's an unbelievable athlete,” Kyrgios said of Dimitrov. “He can serve great. Has a great forehand, obviously slice, very similar to Roger, I think.
“We are good mates, as well. He's always been kind to me. I'm looking forward to it, but I know it's going to be a tough match. I'm not really thinking too far ahead. I'm pretty hungry now.”
Dimitrov and Kyrgios will take the court on Sunday, not before 4pm. Follow the action on the Western & Southern Open live blog or tune in on ESPN and TennisTV.