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Dimitrov Somehow Finds A Way

You don't have to play your best at a Grand Slam to advance; you just have to play better than the person across the net.

And for the second consecutive match, Grigor Dimitrov, without the finest version of his world-class game, found a way to move on at the Australian Open and keep his maiden Grand Slam title hopes alive.

Grigor Dimitrov pushes past Andrey Rublev, who beat him at the 2017 US Open.
The third seed persisted past #NextGenATP Russian Andrey Rublev on Friday on Rod Laver Arena 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the fourth round in Melbourne. Dimitrov will next face 17th seed Nick Kyrgios, who beat 2008 finalist and French 15th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday night. Read Report

“These are the most important matches for me, when things are not working and I'm able to find a way. That's just it,” Dimitrov told Jim Courier on court after the match. “I'm just pleased that I won the match.”

It's the fourth consecutive time Dimitrov has made the Round of 16 Down Under, and he had to labour for it against the 30th-seeded Rublev, who had beaten Dimitrov during their only prior FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, in the second round of the 2017 US Open.

“Obviously today was another tough test for me,” said Dimitrov. “I just had to find a way again, simple as that. At least the game was a little bit better than the previous match [versus MacKenzie McDonald]. It was warm. The conditions really suited me. I was happy that everything went my way.

“I think my mentality is very different right now than, I mean, four, five years ago. I know how to manage my body a little bit more, my shots, the way I'm on the changeovers and everything. I think all that comes into play."

The Bulgarian struggled with his backhand and resorted to only slicing it for much of the match. He also hit more double faults – 15 – than aces – 13.

But the third seed also fought and fought and fought. He fell behind a break in the third set yet came back to break Rublev twice and win the third set. Dimitrov converted 31 per cent of his break chances (6/19).

In the final set, he saw break points during Rublev's first three service games and at last came through during the seventh game. On match point, Dimitrov slapped a forehand winner at the net and fell to both knees before shouting at his box in relief.

“How I win right now, I love it," said Dimitrov. "I mean, on days that you don't feel the best, those are the matches that count a lot... The bigger upside is it can only get better from now. Hopefully the next match I can be even better. I felt even from the first match to the second, even today, like certain things were working a little bit better, I'm adjusting more.”


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