Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov scored his first win against former world number one Roger Federer on March 10, albeit in an exhibition match at the Madison Square Garden in New York, held before the start of the year’s first ATP Masters tournament in Indian Wells.
In competitive play, Federer has won all three previous meetings – twice in his “home” tournament in Basel in 2013 and 2014, as well as earlier this year in Brisbane, with the Bulgarian yet to win a set off Federer. This time, Dimitrov prevailed 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 after recovering from being a break down in the last set.
The match featured plenty of highlight shots from two players known for their flashy game – after all, it was the similarity in their playing style that has earned Dimitrov the “baby Fed” moniker early in his career, although it is something he is eager to distance himself from.
Celebrating World Tennis Day, which is meant to promote the sport across the world, the exhibition match is also part of the run-up to the first ATP Masters tournament of the year, the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, which starts on March 12.
Federer and Dimitrov are both seeded, receiving a first-round bye, which means neither one of them will be in action until the weekend.
Dimitrov has by far the trickier draw, in a quarter that features also three-time Indian Wells champion Rafael Nadal, Canada’s Milos Raonic and a trio of dangerous Frenchmen in Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet and Jeremy Chardy among the seeded players.
But even before Dimitrov encounters another seed, he could face a stern test in Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios (who is the favourite against American wild-card Denis Kudla in the first round) in what could be the most anticipated second-round match of the tournament.
(Grigor Dimitrov on the sidelines of the Rotterdam Open in February 2015. Photo: Marianne Bevis/flickr.com)