Former World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov let slip a seemingly insurmountable 5/0 lead in the first-set tie-break against Stefanos Tsitsipas. But instead of allowing that tough moment ruin the rest of his match, the Bulgarian rallied for his first Top 10 win of the season.
Dimitrov battled past Tsitsipas 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3 to reach the Erste Bank Open quarter-finals for the first time. The World No. 20 withstood 15 aces from the Greek and saved the two break points he faced to triumph after two hours and 14 minutes.
“It’s never easy to come out of a situation like that,” Dimitrov said in his on-court interview. “I was focussed, but he went for it. In the tie-break a few close calls here and there went his way. [There was] not much else I could have done, I felt. But I kept on believing and kept on doing the right things.”
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In a battle of former Nitto ATP Finals champions, Dimitrov showed a willingness to go after his shots against Tsitsipas, who is known for his attacking tennis. The Greek defeated his veteran opponent 6-3, 7-6(9), 6-2 less than a month ago in the fourth round at Roland Garros. That made the first-set tie-break result appear even more pivotal.
For the most part, Tsitsipas earned his way back into the tie-break, with Dimitrov doing little wrong. Perhaps his most glaring error came at 5/3, when he stretched for and missed a forehand volley that appeared to be sailing wide. On the next point, Tsitsipas evened the score with a perfect forehand drop volley from his shoestrings. The third seed won seven consecutive points to take the first set.
“[I] stayed in the match, which I think was the most important thing. He’s such a great competitor,” Dimitrov said. “You always have to be ready. I was just focussing on the most simple things of the game.”
Dimitrov did not back off the baseline and he performed especially well behind his second serve. The unseeded righty won 60 per cent of his second-serve points, breaking the Greek’s serve once in the second set and twice in the third set. Instead of letting down after the tie-break, Dimitrov only got better, while Tsitsipas was unable to raise his level in the decider.
“Every good match that you play gives you a certain amount of confidence. Clearly today was very taxing on the body. Hopefully I’m going to have enough time to recover for tomorrow’s match,” said Dimitrov, who next plays Daniel Evans. “That was the second round of the tournament if you think about it. The rounds are getting tougher and tougher, which is normal. But I like my chances. Just very pleased to be here.”
Did You Know?
Dimitrov’s last Top 10 victory came at last year’s Rolex Paris Masters against Dominic Thiem.