Nadal Stays Perfect Against Dimitrov

No. 3 seed now a spotless 7-0 against the Bulgarian challenger

Rafael Nadal remained perfect against Grigor Dimitrov on Wednesday, outplaying the Bulgarian for the seventh straight time at the Swiss Open Basel 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

The highly anticipated second-round match-up between the former Basel quarter-finalists saw the 24-year-old Dimitrov get out of the blocks in a hurry, breaking his No. 3-seeded opponent to open the match. But Nadal would equalise with a break in the eighth game, reeling off nine of 12 points to level the set at 4-all when a Dimitrov transition volley failed to clear the net. Nadal would subsequently consolidate; then score yet another service break to clinch the first set. Dimitrov, still seeking his first title of the year and his first final since Stockholm in 2014, would amass 16 unforced errors in the stanza alone.

Having surrendered his foothold in the first set, Dimitrov came out with a renewed sense of urgency in the second, two breaks and a like number of holds giving him an early 4-0 edge before Nadal would get on the board.

It was deja vu as the No. 7-ranked Nadal was again broken to open up the decisive third set. But as he did earlier in the match, the 29-year-old would work his way back to knot the set at two games apiece. A tentative service game from Dimitrov at 3-4 would give Nadal his fifth and final break of the evening, and the Spaniard wouldn’t waste the opportunity, stepping up to serve out the match in two hours and 12 minutes.

"It was a positive match," said Nadal. "I won against a tough player, coming back from a break down in the third. That's important for my confidence."

Nadal, who improved to 54-17 on the year, has shown some steely resolve in back-to-back matches, having rallied from 1-6, 3-5 down on Monday to defeat Lukas Rosol 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(4).

Dimitrov fell short in his pursuit of a fourth straight Basel quarter-final. He finished with 26 winners to 41 unforced errors.

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