Grigor Dimitrov vs. Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas in French Open quarters

The 10th-seeded Dimitrov reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros for the first time at age 33, beating No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz 7-6 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (3) at Court Suzanne Lenglen on Sunday.
Jannik Sinner and  Grigor Dimitrov
Jannik Sinner and Grigor Dimitrov

Paris | Grigor Dimitrov bloodied his racket-holding hand and right elbow by diving for a shot. He was covered in French Open clay - his arm, his leg, his back. He didn't get a whole lot of sleep the night before, because rain forced him to forfeit the usual day off between Grand Slam matches.

None of that mattered. Here's what did: The 10th-seeded Dimitrov reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros for the first time at age 33, beating No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz 7-6 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (3) at Court Suzanne Lenglen on Sunday.

“Better late than never,” said Dimitrov, who was wearing bandages on the side of his hand and arm after getting treatment.

“I was just telling myself: I'm going to get to every single ball that is there,” he said. “I'm like: No ball is passing me.” Dimitrov entered the day 0-2 in fourth-rounders in Paris but made it to the final eight in his 14th appearance here, giving him a full set of quarterfinals from the four Grand Slam tournaments. The Bulgarian, who will play No. 2 Jannik Sinner next, got to the semifinals once apiece at the U.S. Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon.

“The French Open was the only Slam I felt like I could never make that extra step,” Dimitrov said after dropping to his knees when the match ended. “Today, 15 years later, I made it, so I'm really happy with that.” Sinner moved on despite a terrible-as-can-be start, getting broken in each of his first three service games and trailing 5-0 after 22 minutes against unseeded Frenchman Courentin Moutet in front of a boisterous crowd at Court Philippe Chatrier on Sunday night. But Sinner, the Australian Open champion in January, eventually got going and won 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1.

“Let's say there are lessons today I can learn from," said Sinner, who came into the tournament with questions about a hip injury that forced him to pull out of the Italian Open last month. "I'm happy with how I responded. I was in trouble, but then I raised my level.”

The other men's quarterfinal on the bottom half of the bracket will be No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz vs. No. 9 Stefanos Tsitsipas. Alcaraz, a two-time major champion, defeated No. 21 Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Tsitsipas, a two-time Grand Slam runner-up, came back to eliminate unseeded Matteo Arnaldi 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-2.

This has been a resurgent season for Dimitrov, who won the Brisbane International in January for his first ATP title since 2017, reached the final at the Miami Open in March before losing to Sinner, and returned to the top 10 in the rankings for the first time since 2018.

He wants more.

“My quest and my goal is to be able to win a Slam. I mean, if I think about it, in a way, this is the only thing that is missing in my resume,” Dimitrov said in an interview before the French Open. “But this is totally and entirely my own path. My own goal. My own quest.”

Dimitrov also is aware, as he put it when talking about his career, “I'm way closer to the end than the beginning.” He improved to 6-0 against Hurkacz, a friend and frequent practice partner, by withstanding the big server's 20 aces and making far fewer unforced errors, 43 vs. 28.

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Carlos Alcaraz
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Carlos Alcaraz

“He definitely competed really well,” said Hurkacz, who beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2021 in what turned out to be the 20-time Slam champion's final match before retirement and defeated Rafael Nadal at the Italian Open last month.

“He came (up) with some good shots in the important moments.” There was an unusual exchange between the two players late in Sunday's match, when Hurkacz - upset about a line call - asked Dimitrov at a changeover if he wanted to request that chair umpire Alison Hughes be replaced.

“Up to you,” Hurkacz said.

Needless to say, that did not go anywhere.

Dimitrov's third-round win against Zizou Bergs was originally supposed to be done Friday, but the rain that affected the schedule for five days in a row got in the way.

So Dimitrov and Bergs did not finish that match until after 10 p.m. on Saturday. It didn't slow Dimitrov down one bit.

“I just tried to prepare more mentally than anything else,” Dimitrov said about getting ready to meet Hurkacz on shorter-than-usual rest at a major.

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