The action at the Western and Southern Open begins to heat up on Thursday, with a potentially exciting clash between seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov and 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro being one of the highlights of the day.
It has been a been a mixed year for both men, with del Potro struggling with inconsistency and injury and Dimitrov having a rather mixed season after a very strong start to 2017. However, both men have played well in Cincinnati so far, and this could be one of the matches of the tournament.
Del Potro is comfortably in control of the head to head between the two, winning all of their five matches and dropping just two sets in the process, though this will be their first meeting on an Outdoor Hard court. The winner will face Yuichi Sugita or Karen Khachanov in the last eight.
Road to the third round
Both men have impressed on their way to the first round, though having had to play one less match may be an advantage for the Bulgarian.
As the seventh seed, Dimitrov received a bye in the first round and because of that may have slightly more energy for this match. He faced a potentially tricky encounter against Feliciano Lopez in his first match in Cincinnati, though impressed as he saw off the Spaniard in two tight sets to reach the round of 16.
Unseeded, del Potro was forced to play in the first round and was handed a very difficult opening round match against tenth seed Tomas Berdych. However, the Argentine came from a set down to beat the Czech, winning the final set to love, and then comfortably saw off qualifier Mitchell Krueger in his second round match; both men head into this match in good form.
Perhaps the key aspect to this match could be the forehand, which is arguably the strongest shot for both men. Del Potro certainly has the more powerful forehand and may well be able to break down the Bulgarian’s game (especially his weaker backhand), though Dimitrov’s forehand has arguably more consistent this season; he may make fewer errors than the Argentine does off this wing.
With del Potro also being weaker off the backhand wing, another strength he will look to exploit is his powerful and aggressive serve. The former US Open champion will look to finish points off quickly and take control of the rallies as early as possible, and that could be crucial as Dimitrov is arguably the better mover of the two. The seventh seed should look to use this advantage to keep his opponent moving, and eventually put himself in the position to win the rallies.
This is certainly set to be one of the most interesting matches of the day, and it will be interesting to see who is able to play better in the hot and humid (and potentially wet) conditions. Dimitrov did play well in his opening match, though del Potro seems to handle the Bulgarian’s game well and his encouraging form so far suggests he may be able to win this encounter.
Prediction: Juan Martin del Potro in three sets