Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov made short work of Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden in the first round of the US Open on August 31, winning in straight sets (6-4, 6-2, 6-4) in just over an hour and a half of play.
Dimitrov dominated his own service games, allowing just one break of serve, and converting 78 per cent of first service points and 76 per cent on second service, while also winning nearly half of the return points (41-of-86), including six of nine break points.
The Bulgarian is no stranger to making flying starts in tournaments during what has been a fairly ho-hum season so far, only to lose to a lower-ranked opponent in the second or third round – only four of his 16 losses this year came against top-10 players (he also had two easy wins against Stan Wawrinka, both of them surprisingly on clay), the rest coming against lower opposition.
His ranking, 17th in the world, is also the lowest in nearly 18 months, meaning he could face a higher seed as early as the third round – the draw has been kind to Dimitrov in this respect, since that opponent would be defending champion Marin Cilic, who has had an equally underwhelming season so far, improving Dimitrov’s chances of equaling last year’s career-best fourth-round appearance at the US Open.
Before that, however, the Bulgarian will have to get through Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin, who was leading 6-3, 6-3. 3-0 when Yen-Hsun Lu retired. The two have met twice before, with Dimitrov winning 6-2, 6-2 in the 2012 Miami Masters and Kukushkin getting the win in a Monte-Carlo Masters qualifying match later the same year.
(Dimitrov at last year’s US Open. Photo: usopen.org)