Dimitrov Rebuilding A Step At A Time, Reaches Third Round
Fabbiano edges past Opelka for Dimitrov clash
Hard work in the off-season shines through in January and Grigor Dimitrov, at his most successful major championship, is no exception. With the support of former World No. 1 and four-time Australian Open titlist Andre Agassi, in addition to regular coach Daniel Vallverdu, on his team, the Bulgarian booked a place in the third round in Melbourne on Wednesday night.
Dimitrov, the No. 20 seed, struck 57 winners to advance with a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5 victory over World No. 94 Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay in two hours and 49 minutes. He will next play Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano on Friday.
In eight previous appearances at the first Grand Slam championship of the season, Dimitrov’s best run came in 2017 when he reached the semi-final (l. to Nadal in five sets). He also reached the 2014 and 2018 quarter-finals.
Dimitrov got off to a perfect start taking a 3-0 lead in a 29-minute first set, but didn’t have things his own way. Cuevas could not convert two set points on Dimitrov’s service at 4-5 in the second set, and found himself in the next game at 15/40, but struck three straight aces. Dimitrov regrouped after losing the tie-break and broke serve once at 2-1 in the third set - aided by three double faults from Cuevas - and at 5-5 in the fourth set en route to his 22nd victory at Melbourne Park (22-8 overall).
American Reilly Opelka may have hit 97 winners, including 67 aces, but it wasn’t enough. Fabbiano, 5’8” in height, held his nerve to reach the third round of a Grand Slam championship for the third time (also 2017 US Open and 2018 Wimbledon) after a 6-7(15), 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5) win over his 6’10” opponent in three hours and 32 minutes. Opelka saved five set points in an epic first set tie-break at 6/7, 8/9, 10/11, 12/13 and 14/15, clinching the set on his sixth set point opportunity.