Stan's Back: Wawrinka Upsets Dimitrov To Take Wimbledon Blockbuster
Stan The Man is back.
The 33-year-old Swiss needed a set to warm up on Centre Court, but once he did, it was vintage Wawrinka at times. The former World No. 3 blasted backhands past Dimitrov and stepped up when the Bulgarian wilted in the spotlight.
"I still think at that moment that I wasn't playing that bad. I was missing few things. The set went quick," Wawrinka said. "I've been practising so hard last few weeks on grass to get my level there, to be ready for big match, to know that I can count on my game. I had to put myself together again, to try to fight, try to find solution."
Dimitrov served at 5-3 in third set for a two-sets-to-one advantage but was broken, and Wawrinka let out a roar after passing Dimitrov with his picture-esque one-handed backhand to close out the set in the ensuing tie-break. A single break in the 10th game of the fourth set clinched the confidence-boosting victory for Wawrinka, who won only his sixth match of 2018 (6-9).
"My practices the past three weeks were really, really good. My level on the practice court, physically and tennis-wise, is [at] a really high level. So I was happy with that," Wawrinka said. "I didn't come into the court thinking, 'I'm going to win'. But I came like, 'Okay, I'm going to try my best, for sure, fight as well as I can, try to make it happen'."
It hardly looked like a sure thing for two-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist (2014, 2015). Ranked No. 224, he is unseeded at a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2007 US Open. Last year, he fell in the first round to Russian Daniil Medvedev before missing the remainder of the year because of two surgeries on his left knee.
But it was Wawrinka who was more committed during the final Centre Court match of Day One. After dropping the 23-minute opener, the Swiss found his comfort level and evened the first-rounder when Dimitrov sailed a forehand long on set point.
The Bulgarian had enjoyed success by keeping Wawrinka on the move, but he couldn't put away the three-time Grand Slam champion, despite having won their past four FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings (4-2). Dimitrov mishit a backhand and dropped his head after being broken at 5-3 in the third set. Serving to stay in the match at 5-4 in the fourth, he was broken for the third time in the match.
“I did everything I could to put myself in that position. I worked throughout the whole week so good. It's just a shame,” Dimitrov said. “When it came to the clutch moments, he seized those moments.”
Wawrinka will next meet Italian Thomas Fabbiano, who beat Indian Yuki Bhambri 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2. Greece's #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas, the 31st seed, beat Frenchman Gregoire Barrere 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(3), 7-5 in two hours and 29 minutes for his first Wimbledon victory.
“I think it's obviously a dream of every single player,” Tsitsipas said of winning at Wimbledon.
The 19-year-old will next meet American Jared Donaldson, who beat Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-1. Donaldson, a 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier, leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Tsitsipas 1-0, a three-set win last year at the Chengdu Open.
Did You Know?
Wawrinka had never beaten a Top 10 player on grass before Monday. The Swiss improved to 17-22 against Top 10 players at Grand Slams.