Grigor Dimitrov advanced to the third round of the Australian Open on January 19, defeating South Korea’s Hyeon Chung in four sets (1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4), and will next play Frenchman Richard Gasquet.
Chung, ranked 105th in the world, made a flying start to the match and converting three of seven breakpoints in the first set. Dimitrov looked rattled and made only three winning shots, as well as 14 unforced errors.
But the Bulgarian steadied the ship in the second frame. “That first set, he definitely played lights-out,” Dimitrov said in his post-match comments. “I had to be respectful of that, and I was. But as soon as the second set started, I felt confident. And that’s nice to feel.”
Dimitrov took an early lead in the second set, breaking his opponent’s first service game and held on without facing a single breakpoint. In the third frame, the situation was reversed, with Chung getting the early break, but Dimitrov quickly evened the score and then broke his opponent’s serve again to take the set.
Chung had more opportunities to even the score and push the match into a decisive fifth set, but he struggled to make much headway against Dimitrov’s serve in the fourth, converting only one of five breakpoints, while the Bulgarian made better use of his opportunities, converting both of his breakpoints to close the match in just over two and a half hours.
Dimitrov’s next opponent is 18th seed Gasquet, against whom he has a 1-5 career record, although he did win the last match between the two, at last year’s Shanghai Masters. Both Dimitrov and Gasquet, former top-10 players and Grand Slam semi-finalists, will go into the match knowing that a deep run at this year’s Australian Open is a real possibility after the lower half of the bracket was blown wide open by the defeat of world number two and six-time defending champion Novak Djokovic, who lost his second-round match to Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin in five sets.
(Photo: Brad Touesnard/flickr.com)