Read & Watch: Dimitrov Advances After Epic 35-Shot Match Point
“Sometimes one, two, three matches, it can really turn it around for you again. If you stay compact, stay smart and do the right things you just never known when the tables might turn for you.”
Grigor Dimitrov said that before his Rogers Cup began on Tuesday, but the Bulgarian, who was in the midst of a 2-6 stretch, hopes those words turn out to be prescient for him this North American hard-court swing.
The World No. 5 came back to beat Spain's Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(5) in Toronto. Their second-round match was suspended because of rain at 4-4 in the third set for two and a half hours.
But Dimitrov came out ready to put his recent past with Verdasco behind him. The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion saw a match point come and go on Verdasco's serve at 4-5, 30/40 when the Bulgarian netted a backhand. But Dimitrov stayed on it and won an epic 35-shot match point.
Watch Dimitrov's Epic 35-Shot Match Point
But Dimitrov, who hasn't reached a quarter-final since April at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, evened their FedEx ATP Head2Head series at 3-3. He will next meet #NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe or Canadian Milos Raonic.
Tiafoe earned his 23rd match win of the season by beating Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato of Italy 7-6(3), 6-1. The American saved eight of nine break points to beat No. 21 Cecchinato, who is in 12th place in the ATP Race To London.
“Solid performance for me. I got broken, a slow start, but I competed well, got the break back, played a pretty good match overall, held all the way through, pretty one-sided in the breaker. Second set was pretty one-sided all the way through, so I was pretty comfortable,” said Tiafoe, who won his maiden ATP World Tour title in February at the Delray Beach Open.
“[My confidence is] pretty high. I’ve won a lot of matches this year... definitely the most I’ve ever won at the ATP [level]. This has been one of the best years of my life... I can beat anyone.”
The 20-year-old right-hander is currently in fifth place in the ATP Race To Milan, which will determine seven of the eight players who qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held 6-10 November in Milan. The eighth spot will be reserved for the winner of an all-Italian qualifier tournament to be held just prior to the prestigious 21-and-under event. Last year, Tiafoe missed making his Milan debut by one place.
“I think I’ve got some pretty good length between the guys under me, so I’m feeling pretty good that I’ll make it. I missed it by one last year, so that hurt,” Tiafoe said.
Robin Haase, 2017 semi-finalist (l. to Federer), dismissed Japan's Kei Nishikori 7-5, 6-1. Haase dominated on serve, winning 57 per cent of his second-serve points and saving four of five break points. The Dutchman will next meet third seed Juan Martin del Potro.