Grigor Dimitrov started 2015 with a win in his first singles match against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in Brisbane, coming back from a set down and saving two match points in the process.
Dimitrov fell behind early and struggled with his first serve and backhand for most of the opening set, which he lost 3-6. In the second frame, Dimitrov faced an early exit at 3-4 on his own service, when Chardy had a break point that would have allowed him to serve for the match, but the Frenchman was unable to convert.
Seizing the momentum, Dimitrov went on to break his opponent’s service in the next game – the only break point he converted out of 13 in the match – and then held serve to take the second set 6-4. The Bulgarian dominated his service games in the third set, giving Chardy no openings to break serve, but was unable to take advantage of several opportunities to end the match early, failing to convert all six break points he had.
In the decisive tie-break, Dimitrov raced to a 4-2 lead, but lost the next four points. He recovered in time, saving two match points to win the final frame 7-6 (10-8) as the match clock reached two hours and 30 minutes.
This was Dimitrov’s second match against Chardy in as many days, having played against the Frenchman in doubles the previous night. Dimitrov and his partner, Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, defeated Chardy and Lukasz Kubot in three sets 6-3, 3-6, 10-8.
Dimitrov is seeded fourth at the Brisbane International, one of several warm-up tournaments before the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open, which will start in Melbourne on January 19. He reached his first career final in Brisbane in 2013 and has set his sights on the title this year.
He will play Slovenia’s Martin Klizan in the third round, who won in even more dramatic fashion than Dimitrov, defeating Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov 1-6, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (9-7) after saving six match points. This was the second three-set match played by Klizan in Brisbane.
Dimitrov and Klizan have never played each other before, but should the Bulgarian progress, he will likely face former Swiss world number one Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, who has won both their previous encounters in straight sets (in Basel in 2013 and again in 2014).
(Grigor Dimitrov, photo: mirsasha/flickr.com)