Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov was forced to dig deep to avoid a first-round exit at the Monte-Carlo Masters against Spaniard Marcel Granollers but prevailed in the end 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.
Dimitrov appeared to be cruising early on, winning the first set with ease despite frequently finding the net on first serve. His serve improved in the second frame, but Granollers held on to his service games to hold off the Bulgarian’s charge.
Following a slew of errors from Dimitrov, Granollers broke his opponent’s service and held on to tie the match and then took an early lead in the third set after breaking Dimitrov’s service again.
A few years ago, such a development would have likely pushed Dimitrov into a funk and resulted in a loss, but the Bulgarian showed his improved mental toughness and turned the match aground, winning the next six games to take the set and match just past the two-hour mark.
The extra effort may yet cost Dimitrov down the line, but his next challenge will be an easier one – another Spaniard, Albert Ramos, ranked just outside the ATP top 100 (Granollers, by comparison, is ranked 32nd).
Should Dimitrov win his next match, his opponent in the third round will be sixth-seed David Ferrer, who won his second-round match against Jeremy Chardy of France 6-3, 6-0 on April 15.
Dimitrov beat Ramos in their only previous encounter, in Bastad in 2012, while his career record against Ferrer is 1-3, although the Bulgarian did win their last meeting, last year in Stockholm, securing his first career title in the process.
(Dimitrov at last year’s Monte-Carlo Masters. Photo: mirsasha/flickr.com)