Grigor Dimitrov had to dig deep and save two match points against Australia’s John Millman in the second round of the Brisbane International, wrapping up a late-night 4-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-3 victory in just over two hours and a half.
The Bulgarian, who is defending champion and top seed, made fast start against the Brisbane native Millman, who is ranked 128th in the world, breaking service first. The Australian bounced back, taking advantage of Dimitrov’s struggles on first serve, which was an abysmal 44 per cent with four double faults in the first set, to win the first set.
In the second frame, the two exchanged breaks of serve before Millman had the chance to win the match twice in the tie-break. But Dimitrov rallied well, winning four of the next five points after saving the second match point and rode the momentum in the decisive set, taking an early lead that he would not relinquish until the end.
In the quarterfinals, Dimitrov will play against Britain’s Kyle Edmund. The two have met only once before, in Washington last year, with Dimitrov prevailing in three sets.
Brisbane was the first of four titles the Bulgarian won last year, including the Cincinnati Masters and the ATP Finals in London, which saw Dimitrov rise to third in the ATP Tour rankings. To lift the trophy, Dimitrov, then ranked 17th in the world, recorded three consecutive victories over top-10 opponents.
His path to defend the title looks much easier after the pre-tournament withdrawals by Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori. Among seeded players, only Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, whom Dimitrov could meet in the semis, is still in the draw.