Bulgaria’s Dimitrov through to Acapulco semis
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov secured a place in the Abierto Mexicano Telcel Open late on February 27, after a hard-earned three-set win over Latvian Ernests Gulbis.
Gulbis won the only previous encounter between the two, earlier this month in Rotterdam, and appeared to have the upper hand early on, taking the first set 6-4 after Dimitrov committed several errors when serving to stay in the set.
The two players appeared to be evenly matched in the second frame, but this time it was the Latvian committing errors at the most inopportune of times, giving Dimitrov an edge early in the tie-break, which the Bulgarian capitalised on to win 7-6 (7-2).
In the third set, Dimitrov took a 4-2 lead but had his serve broken right back. Presented with the opportunity to end the match on a breakpoint on Gulbis’ serve, Dimitrov did not blink and converted after two hours and 39 minutes of play.
Dimitrov never got his first service going during the match, though neither did Gulbis for that matter, and won because of better play on second serve and in the return game, as well as making more of his service break opportunities than his opponent.
He will need to serve better in his next match, when he meets Britain’s Andy Murray, who faced his own stern test in Frenchman Gilles Simon, also overturning an early deficit to win 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.
Murray has won all three previous meetings with Dimitrov, all played on hard courts (the same surface used in Acapulco) without dropping a single set. The reigning Wimbledon champion has looked sluggish, by his own high standards, so far this year after returning from a shoulder injury, but the Bulgarian will need to be on top of his game to add another top-10 scalp to his growing collection.
Still, in reaching the semi-finals in Acapulco, Dimitrov has likely done enough to get back into the ATP Tour top 20 when the next rankings are out on March 3. Should Dimitrov go all the way in Mexico and win his second career title, he could rise to the very edge of the ATP top 15, a new career high.
(Grigor Dimitrov. Photo: mirsasha/flickr.com)