Grigor Dimitrov took just over an hour and 40 minutes to book his progress to the third round of the Wimbledon Championships, dispatching Marcos Baghdatis in straight sets 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 on July 6.
The Bulgarian, seeded 13th, was in fine form against a familiar opponent, against whom he is now 8-1 in his career (Baghdatis’ only win over Dimitrov was, coincidentally, in the second round of the 2012 Wimbledon). Dimitrov notched 20 winners and only one unforced error through the first two frames, converting three of five breakpoints while conceding none.
Dimitrov’s propensity for occasional lapses in concentration surfaced at the start of the third set, when he served three double faults in one game, but he recovered to save four break points and hold serve. He broke Baghdatis’ serve in the next game and then had to save three more break points on his own service game, which seemed to break the last vestiges of his opponent’s resistance.
In reaching the third round, Dimitrov matched his progress in last year’s tournament, when he went out at that stage after a four-set loss to American Steve Johnson. His opponent this year will be Dudi Sela of Israel, who scored an upset win over the 23rd seed, John Isner.
The match-up is a favourable one for the Bulgarian, who has won all four meetings between the two. Dimitrov, who is yet to drop a set in the tournament, is also likely to face a tired opponent, as Sela needed five sets and nearly four hours to defeat Isner, and he also played another five-set match against Marcel Granollers in the first round.
Dimitrov’s best result at Wimbledon came in 2014, when he reached the semi-finals after defeating defending champion Andy Murray, losing a very close match to Novak Djokovic. That run put him briefly into the ATP Tour 10, but he failed to build up on that success and found himself on the verge of dropping outside the top 40 at this point last year.
Since then, Dimitrov has teamed up with Dani Vallverdu, former coach to Murray and Tomas Berdych, and has risen steadily through the rankings, finding himself just outside the top 10 again. This year, he won trophies in Brisbane and Sofia, his first tournament wins since 2014, and reached the Australian Open semis, where he was on the losing side of an instant five-set classic against Rafael Nadal.
But he has also lost three matches to opponents outside the top 100 and another deep run into the second week of a Grand Slam would likely require that Dimitrov overcomes the most difficult challenge in his career – defeating Roger Federer, to whom he was compared early on in his career (though, at 26, no one could call Dimitrov “baby Fed” any longer), in the fourth round.
Federer has won all five previous meetings between them, although the two have never played on grass before. The Swiss former world number one is also having somewhat of a career renaissance, winning his 18th major title at the Australian Open earlier this year, and is seen as the favourite to win another Wimbledon title, his eighth.
“That is exhibition stuff”
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 6, 2017