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Former Champions Win Stockholm Openers

Top-seeded Grigor Dimitrov moved closer to securing his first appearance in the Nitto ATP Finals with a tightly contested victory over qualifier Jerzy Janowicz, 7-5, 7-6(5) in the second round of the Intrum Stockholm Open on Thursday. The 2013 champion struck nine aces and dropped just five points on his first serve to triumph and begin his campaign toward another title in Sweden.

“I knew it was going to come down to a few points in the first or the second set,” said Dimitrov, who entered the match holding a 2-2 record in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Janowicz. “He’s a super-talented player, especially indoors. He served unbelievable, so I was struggling quite a bit to find my way around the return area but each game I just really had to stay positive, stay pumped and I just really had to focus on my game because I couldn’t afford myself to be negative or to have a loose point.”

Grigor Dimitrov beats qualifier Jerzy Janowicz in his Intrum Stockholm Open opener as he seeks a second title at the event.
Dimitrov, this year’s Brisbane, Sofia and Cincinnati winner, currently sits at No. 6 in the Emirates ATP Race To London with 3,455 points and is second in line to qualify for the year-end event behind No. 5 Marin Cilic, who has 3,535 points. The 26-year-old is attempting to win four titles in a season for the first time in his career. He is the highest-ranked player in the Race yet to qualify for London who is in action this week.

While the scoreline indicates that there was little between the two opponents, Dimitrov controlled play in the first set, dropping only three points on his serve until breaking to win the opener, never allowing the Pole to dictate play in return games. The second set was more tense, with Janowicz consistently forcing return errors, facing only one break point in the set. However, he earned his only two break points of the match at 1-1, and was unable to convert. Dimitrov trailed just once in the tie-break at 1-2, and would go on to capitalise on his third match point.

He will have a different style of opponent in the quarter-finals in serve and volleying left-hander Mischa Zverev, the fifth seed. The German eliminated Viktor Troicki, 6-2, 6-3 in 68 minutes.

Another player seeking a London bid is Juan Martin del Potro, who strengthened his outside hopes with a 6-2, 7-6(5) victory over Jan-Lennard Struff in the last match of the day.

The defending champion entered the week No. 18 in the Race with 1,885 points, but his victory moved him to No. 16 with 1,930 points as he continued a late-season charge in which del Potro has advanced to the semi-finals of both the US Open and the Shanghai Rolex Masters. He is in pursuit of his first title of the season, and his 20th overall.

The Argentine will next face seventh seed Yuichi Sugita, who battled past 2009 champion Marcos Baghdatis, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.

With del Potro's win, the top eight seeds advanced to the quarter-finals of an ATP World Tour event for the first time since the 2016 Garanti Koza Sofia Open.

Source: http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/dimitrov-del-potro-stockholm-2017-thursday

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