Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov won his second career title at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco on March 2, beating South African Kevin Anderson in a three-set thriller 7-6 (7-1), 3-6, 7-6 (7-5).
This was the third consecutive three-set match played by Dimitrov, who won against Ernests Gulbis and Andy Murray in the previous rounds. And just like the semi-final grinding win against Murray, the final against Anderson went just short of three hours – at times it seemed that Dimitrov’s tough path to the final might have taken too much of his strength to deal with the big-serving Anderson as well.
After early jitters on his very first service game, Dimitrov settled in and both players dominated on service until Anderson had three break points at 4-4. Dimitrov rallied to win the next five points and could have wrapped up the set early, with two breakpoints in the next game, but Anderson slammed that door shut with his strong serve.
In the tie-break, however, Dimitrov would not be denied, racing to a five-point lead and coasting to a 7-1 win.
Anderson fought back in the second frame, breaking Dimitrov’s service early on and never relinquished his lead, winning the set. He then repeated the feat in the third to take a 4-2 lead and appeared set to serve his way to victory.
But a double fault on break-point erased Anderson’s lead to tie the set at 4-4, with both players relying on their strong serves to push the frame into another tie-break. Again, Anderson raced to an early lead, only for Dimitrov to dig deep and hit the right shots at the right times to complete his comeback – he won the last tie-break 7-5 despite trailing 2-4 half-way through.
— Grigor Dimitrov (@GrigorDimitrov) March 2, 2014
The Acapulco title is the second of Dimitrov’s career and the first ATP 500 series tournament win for the Bulgarian. Last year, he won the If Stockholm Open in October, becoming the first Bulgarian male tennis player to win an ATP Tour title in the open era.
The win also comes as confirmation that Dimitrov’s strong start to the year, when he reached the Australian Open’s quarterfinal stage, was no fluke – he was forced to pull out because of injury before the Zagreb Indoor and then lost in the second round in Rotterdam to Gulbis.
Stamina has been one of Dimitrov’s weaknesses in previous years, but the staying power he showed in Melbourne and again in Acapulco bode well for the rest of the season and Dimitrov’s chances of breaking into the ATP Tour’s top 10.
He is expected to climb to 16th in the world when the next rankings are out on March 3. The next two tournaments – the Masters tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami – are both mandatory and could see Dimitrov add to his points tally (he exited in the third round of both tournaments last year).
(Grigor Dimitrov lifts the trophy after winning the Mexican Open title in Acapulco. Photo: abiertomexicanodetenis.com)