Dimitrov denies Kyrgios
Originally published on 21/01/18 00:00
The Bulgarian appeared to have missed his opportunity when he faltered serving for the match, but he regrouped and completed an impressive 7-6(3) 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(4) victory.
Rarely has a non-‘Big Four’ match garnered so much interest, but this last sixteen duel stood out as a plum tie – and the hype was entirely justified.
The contest delivered the twists and turns anticipated, and it was the No.3 seed that did just enough to prevail and disappoint the capacity crowd inside Rod Laver Arena.
“Playing against Nick is always tricky, I lost to him two weeks ago (in Brisbane),” said Dimitrov, who will encounter Kyle Edmund next. “He was serving unbelievably and playing unbelievably, and competed really hard.
“He deserves a lot of credit, and it’s one of those matches you have to be locked-in and take any opportunities you get. When I was serving for the match I was not finding my spots well, but again, he was playing very well.
“I’m just glad I got through the match.”
The Bulgarian was below par in the first week of the tournament – and his backhand and second serve were areas of concern. He was required to raise his level for the unique threat posed by the Australian, and he did exactly that.
The 26-year-old’s forehand was outstanding and his scrambling skills enabled him to frequently turn defence into attack. He did not face a single break-point in the first set, and dominated the tiebreak.
While Dimitrov was calm and composed, Kyrgios was ranting and raving at his support team. He was unhappy with his string tension, and it negatively impacted his performance in the closing stages of the opener.
The Australian was focused and engaged in the second set, however he was still under the cosh. He slipped a break behind as his challenge began to dwindle, but he recovered the deficit and levelled at 5-5.
Dimitrov had tightened up when serving for the set, but he quickly brushed off the disappointment. A quite scrumptious forehand winner down the line proved to be crucial in the tiebreak, and it helped the No.3 seed double his advantage.
Kyrgios faced an uphill battle to remain in contention, but he managed to reduce the arrears. A careless game from the Bulgarian enabled the Australian to snatch a break and move 3-2 ahead, and that was all he required to take the third set.
Kyrgios had hope again, and the crowd was firmly on his side. The noise levels increased and it was clear Dimitrov was playing away from home.
The fourth set was typically close, but it was the Australian who was under the most pressure. He fended off three break-points, but missed a sitter of an overhead to gift his opponent the opportunity to serve for the match.
Stunned silence greeted Kyrgios’ momentary lapse in concentration, but the decibel levels soon increased again. Dimitrov played a service game to forget as he attempted to apply the finishing touches, and the match was back in the balance.
Another tiebreak was required, and once again, it was the Bulgarian who delivered.
The 26-year-old let out a guttural roar after directing a pinpoint forehand passing-shot beyond the reach of his floundering rival to finally get over the winning line.