BNP Paribas Open Day 4 Review: Grigor Dimitrov defeats Nick Kyrgios.


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The second round match between Grigor Dimitrov (11) and Nick Kyrgios was much anticpated and did not disappoint. The Tennis Review looks back at Dimitrov’s victory.

The match between Grigor Dimitrov, the 11th seed, and Nick Kyrgios was expected to be an intriguing one. The clash pitted the current generation versus the next, and would be a rare contest between two aggressive minded players.

The first set

The first set went with serve as both men were sharp on their delivery. Points were mostly short as the always aggressive Kyrgios brought out the aggressive best in Dimitrov.

Dimitrov did not disappoint with his shot-making, either. A passing backhand flick winner at 4-4, 30-30, will go down as one of the shots of the tournament.

It will most likely come after his backhand winner at 5-5. On that point, Dimitov brought Kyrgios in with a drop shot, then mis-anticipated the direction of the volley, going left, switched over to the right, got his racket on the ball and sent it past Kyrgios for a winner.

With both men racing through their service games, the set went to a tiebreaker. Dimitrov earned the early mini-break, hitting a slice backhand as he approached the net and forcing an error.

A forehand into the net from Kyrgios at 2-4 handed Dimitrov a second mini-break. Dimitrov held serve, hitting a service winner on set point, and he took the first set 7-6 (4).

The second set

In the second set, Dimitrov carried over his momentum and held break points on the rattled Kyrgios’ serve. The Bulgarian’s back hand slice went long though and his chance had passed as Kyrgios struck a service winner and an ace to hold for 1-0.

Both players then raced through their service games to 4-3 Kyrgios. The Australian then worked his way into the Dimitrov service game, displaying solid defensive skills. A netted smash from Dimitrov handed Kyrgios a break point.

The Bulgarian saved it with a service winner. The world No. 11 then hit a double fault to gift Kyrgios another chance. The Australian played wisely, keeping the ball in play and a Dimitrov forehand wide gave Kyrgios the break for 5-3 and a chance to serve out for the second set.

The 19 year old, two matches into a comeback from back injury, rose to the occasion, finding the winners and serves that have made him the first teenager since Roger Federer to make two Grand Slam quarter-finals. Kyrgios hit a forehand winner for 30-15, a service winner for 40-15, and an ace for the set.

The third set. 

This time it was Kyrgios who had chances to break early in the set as he reached 15-40 on the Dimitrov serve. The Bulgarian saved the first with an ace down the tee and the second with a smash winner. At deuce, Dimitrov hit two service winners to hold for 1-0.

Clutch play from a player who lost his last match 0-6 in the third to then ranked 169 Ryan Harrison in his title defense in Acapulco.

Dimitrov put pressure on Kyrgios in the next game 15-40 down with more of his sublime shot-making when he hit a backhand winning return off a Kyrgios 102 mph serve. The Bulgarian just stuck out his racket and the ball flew cross-court for a winner. The eleventh seed then struck another strong return and took Kyrgios to deuce.

Kyrgios survived the pressure, fighting to game point and winning with a huge backhand down the line that forced a forehand error off the Bulgarian.

At 2-2, Kyrgios held break point as a Dimitrov backhand volley went long. That did not scare the Bulgarian from hitting another backhand volley on the next point, though, hitting a winner off a Kyrgios attempt at a forehand passing shot.

A service winner earned Dimitrov game point and a return error from Kyrgios put Dimitrov 3-2 up.

The match was now at its competitive peak with both men committed to aggressive play and bringing out the best in each other.

Kyrgios falls

At 5-5 in the third set, Dimitrov serving, the Bulgarian fell 15-30 behind. Kyrgios then had a look at a second serve, kept the ball in play, and the Bulgarian hit a forehand into the net off a short ball.

Break point Kygios. The Australian once again got a second serve and once again did nothing more than get the ball back into play, and once again a Dimitrov error came his way. But just as Dimitrov hit a forehand once more into the net and handed him the break, the Australian fell over at the baseline, going over on his ankle.

Kyrgios, who had gone unbroken the entire match was now serving for it, but that killer shot was now missing and Dimitrov broke for the first time in the match to level the set at 5-5.

Final set tiebreaker

Both men then held and the match would be decided on a final set tiebreaker. Kyrgios was still in it though, despite his misfortune, fighting through the pain barrier, even throwing in a second serve ace as both men held to 3-3.

But a backhand error from the Australian gave Dimtrov the mini-break for 4-3. The Bulgarian then struck a huge serve and hit a smash winner off the short return for 5-3. A forehand winner and Dimitrov led 6-3 and had match point.

Kyrgios, serving, managed to save the first but on the second he hit a forehand long.

A dramatic end with an unfortunate twist in a high quality contest. Dimitrov played the better tennis over the course of the match- he hit 47 winners to 30 unforced errors (Kyrgios was 30-33) but Kyrgios played the better tennis, until his fall, when it really mattered.

For Dimitrov it was a lucky escape from another early loss. For Kyrgios it was a taster of how unfair the game can be. Expect it to fire him on, though. What the win will do for Dimitrov, though, will be as mysterious as his form and ever changing game the past nine months.

Commentary by Christian Deverille.

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