TORONTO—Grigor Dimitrov is finding ways to win, even when things are appearing very, very dire. On Thursday, he squeaked out a 7-6 (3), 3-6, 7-6 (4) victory over Frances Tiafoe to reach the Rogers Cup quarterfinals.
It's Dimitrov's second third-set tiebreaker in as many matches, after surviving a similar encounter against Fernando Verdasco in the first round.
"I haven't competed in about four, four and a half weeks," Dimitrov said. "I was really not focusing on winning or losing. I was just focusing to build up and start playing good tennis and start building the right habits."
The 27-year-old's Houdini-like escape acts aren't ruffling his feathers because he's an established veteran on tour. He believes in the process and his team, and he also knows what he needs to do when the match gets down to the wire—like when he was down 4-1 in the deciding tiebreak.
"I felt a bit more experienced in that situation," Dimitrov said. "In a way, I knew what I had to do in order to win."
That's not to say Dimitrov is perfect. He lost control at 2-2 in the third set while down break point. The umpire gave him a warning for passing the 25 seconds allotted by the new shot clock, which triggered a brief rant from Dimitrov.
"First of all, it was heat of the moment, and I just believe that you just don't give warning right away," Dimitrov said. "And I guess that was the flamboyant side on my end. And I apologized. Behavior like that shouldn't be tolerated."
Last year, Dimitrov proved what kind of person and player he truly is by having his best career year. The Bulgarian reached a career-high ranking of No. 3, won his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati and ended the year by winning the ATP Finals.
"The biggest pressure that I could probably experience has always been from myself," Dimitrov said. "OK, last year was, yes, unbelievable year without a doubt. But it's all a learning process for me. And I still believe that there's a lot of more to come for me. Yes, this year hasn't been the best, clearly, but it's not over."
While he hasn't won a title in 2018, the world No. 5 is positive everything is going in the right direction, and there's still plenty of the season left.
"I mean, clearly I'm not playing my best tennis, but I'm finding a way and managing to go through those matches, and I think I'm improving," Dimitrov said. "With each game, with each point that I play, I feel more confident, more stable on the court, and everything [is falling] into its place."
Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev headline the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Watch live coverage from four courts on Tennis Channel Plus beginning Monday, August 6th at 11:00 A.M.