Canadian Milos Raonic stormed past Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 6-4 on Friday to continue his comeback from summer hip surgery with a berth in the semifinals at the Stockholm Open.
The 20-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., triumphed in a showcase of two of tennis' rising stars. Dimitrov, coached by Australian Peter McNamara, has been compared to a young Roger Federer while Raonic unleashes big serves in the style of Pete Sampras.
Raonic pounded the 70th-ranked Dimitrov with 14 aces and hit 34 winners in 78 minutes.
“I took care of everything I needed to, hitting my serve and creating opportunities,” said Raonic. “The job is to take care of serve and look for opportunities — and I couldn't have taken care of serve any better.”
The 29th-ranked Canadian will play top-seeded Gael Monfils of France in Saturday's semifinal. Monfils beat South Africa's Kevin Anderson 7-5, 7-5 on Friday.
Raonic has now reached his fourth semifinal of a season interrupted by hip surgery after a fall at Wimbledon.
The Dimitrov win improved Raonic's record to 11-1 indoors this season. Overall he is 31-16.
Sill the young Canadian knows he still has room to improve.
“My serve is a double-edged sword. It puts more pressure on opponents on my service games and also when they are serving,” said Raonic. “They know if they get behind it will be tough to catch up again.
“It's a huge asset and it makes a big difference.”
Raonic broke once per set against Dimitrov, breaking for 6-5 in the first set and serving the set out a game later.
In the second set, Dimitrov dropped to 1-2 and saved a break point in the seventh game before the Canadian closed out the match with a service winner on match point.
“If I do my job and keep serving like I have, I should have my chances in the semis,” said Raonic. “It comes down to a few points here and there.”
Also, Finland's Jarkko Nieminen beat Tobias Kamke of Germany 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 to advance to the semis.
The Finn received plenty of support from the crowd at the Royal Tennis Hall as the only Nordic player left in the tournament after Sweden's Michael Ryderstedt was eliminated in the first round.