ATP Cincinnati: Grigor Dimitrov serves into round three

Seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov avoided the seed exodus in Cincinnati, avoiding a challenge in the form of Feliciano Lopez and claiming a straight sets win.

ATP Cincinnati: Grigor Dimitrov serves into round three
Grigor Dimitrov hits a forehand during his second round win. Photo: Noel Alberto
Grigor Dimitrov
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Feliciano Lopez

After being eliminated by Feliciano Lopez at the same stage last year, Grigor Dimitrov got his revenge at the 2017 Western and Southern Open by sending the Spaniard packing in straight sets in their second round clash. The match was a tight service battle from start to finish, but a few poorly timed errors from were all Dimitrov would need to advance to the third round in Cincinnati with a 7-6(5), 6-4 victory.

Single forehand costs Lopez

Dimitrov needed a couple of minutes to get his head in the game, but a routine shot wide that forced him to save a break point in his second game seemed to do the trick. After Lopez dumped his forehand into the net on that break point, the Bulgarian would start to turn the tables. In the sixth game, he sent a forehand winner up the line to bring up his own break point, but Lopez got him running and drew a backhand into the net. In the very next game, Dimitrov had to dig himself out of a 0-30 hole to hold, but quickly went back on offence.

Feliciano Lopez lines up a forehand during his loss in Cincinnati. Photo: Noel Alberto
Feliciano Lopez follows through on a shot during his loss in Cincinnati. Photo: Noel Alberto
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One game later, Lopez missed a forehand to fall behind 15-40, double break point for Dimitrov. However, the Spaniard’s big serve came to the rescue, as he would strike an ace before drawing a return error to erase the break points. He would save a third with a big serve before holding. For the fifth time in five matches, a tiebreak was required. In the breaker, Lopez gave away an early minibreak by netting a forehand and Dimitrov never looked back. The remainder of the tiebreak would go with serve and the Bulgarian hung on, drawing a slice long on his third set point to wrap up the tiebreak 7-5 and take the opening set.

Dimitrov rides early break

Much like the opening set, Dimitrov got off to a slow start, needing to battle back from 0-30 down in his opening service game of the second set. He would bounce back quickly, taking a 0-30 lead of his own on Lopez’s serve before chasing down a drop shot and ripping a cross court winner to set up a triple break point. Lopez would send a forehand long to give away the first break of the match to love.

The Bulgarian nearly gave the break away a few games later, staring down a 15-40 deficit in the sixth game. But his powerful serve came to the rescue, as Lopez failed to put either return in play. Dimitrov nearly put an early end to the match when he held a break/match point on Lopez’s serve at 5-3, but he netted his return. Still, in the very next game, despite failing to convert his first few match points, the seventh seed would wrap up the win with a hold.

By the numbers

Both men had very similar service numbers, with Dimitrov winning 85 percent of his first serve points and 59 percent of his second serve points, slightly better than Lopez’s 81 percent of first serve points and 55 percent of second serve points. Dimitrov had 11 aces to the Spaniard’s 8. The key would be that the Bulgarian saved all three break points he faced and won all of his service points in the first set tiebreak. Lopez only saved five of six break points.

In the third round, Dimitrov awaits the winner between Juan Martin del Potro and Mitchell Krueger.