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Dimitrov Returns To Form, Beats Cilic In Five Sets

Grigor Dimitrov bounced back in style on Wednesday, overcoming nerves to find his best form in a 6-7(3), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 victory over Croatian No. 11 seed Marin Cilic in four hours and 24 minutes at Roland Garros.

It may well be a hugely significant win for the Bulgarian, who has struggled for consistency since winning the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals crown that saw him rise to No. 3 in the ATP Rankings.

“Every win that I have now, I appreciate it,” admitted Dimitrov. “I don’t really think of who I’m playing against. I just want to have those wins… It was a very, very important match to me, without a doubt, though. Clearly I have struggled the past two, three months. The shoulder hasn’t been great. So a lot of moving parts. A lot of changes overall. I feel great, and I’m very, so to speak, focused and excited for what’s ahead.”

Dimitrov served an ace out wide to take the fourth set tie-break, then broke twice in the deciding set, prior to squandering two match points on serve at 5-2. Upon clinching his 11th win of the year, he pointed a finger to his head in celebration, staring at fellow Monte-Carlo resident (and his part-time coach) Radek Stepanek, as vindication of the work they have undertaken over the clay swing.

Since landing the biggest title of his career at The O2 in London in November 2017, Dimitrov has posted a 35-27 match record and fallen to World No. 46. On Monday evening, competing on the newest stadium court: Simonne-Mathieu, Dimitrov hit 60 winners – including 15 aces – and came out with two more points than Cilic, 179 to 177.

Infosys powers real-time insights for every point

“I think there is a lot for me to take out of this match,” said Dimitrov. “I think this is the important part for me now. It was definitely one of the greatest matches I have played for a long time. A lot of credit to Marin. I have so much respect to Marin. He’s a tremendous fighter [and] never gives up.

“I think on both ends today we raised our game a little bit, sort of with each game that we played. Almost towards the end of the match, we served almost impeccably, to be honest. So that was something that already I take a lot of confidence from, and hopefully I can reproduce it for the match ahead. I think I’m going to definitely have a look at that match tomorrow. I’m really curious to see a couple of things and hopefully keep same way. Hopefully that was a turning point.”

He will next challenge Stan Wawrinka, the 2015 champion, who underwent two knee surgeries and has also fought his own battle for a return to form.

Cilic admitted, “He (Dimitrov) was playing really well. And I think what he served well when he was in the trouble. When I had some chances, he was coming up with some good shots and good serves. Generally, I think the level was very good. Unfortunately, I could not win it and feeling a little bit disappointed.”

Wawrinka was impressive in passing a potentially tricky second-round encounter against Chilean Cristian Garin 6-1, 6-4, 6-0 in one hour and 40 minutes. It was the 499th match win of his career and his 40th victory at Roland Garros (40-13 record).

The Swiss star admitted that it was one of the best matches he has played in recent months. “I know how well I can play,” said Wawrinka. “I’m happy with the way I have been playing today… I was really aggressive, moving much better than the first round.

“I like the conditions, I know how well I can play here. I know how well I have been practising and pushing myself to play a match like that. I’m happy with today, but this is just one match, so I just want to be ready for the next one… After the [knee] surgery it took me a little while to get back fit and ready to play like today.”

The 22-year-old Garin, who has contested 27 of his 28 tour-level matches on clay-courts this year, lifted two ATP Tour titles in Houston (d. Ruud) and in Munich (d. Berrettini).

Dimitrov Returns To Form, Beats Cilic In Five Sets

Grigor Dimitrov bounced back in style on Wednesday, overcoming nerves to find his best form in a 6-7(3), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 victory over Croatian No. 11 seed Marin Cilic in four hours and 24 minutes at Roland Garros.

It may well be a hugely significant win for the Bulgarian, who has struggled for consistency since winning the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals crown that saw him rise to No. 3 in the ATP Rankings.

“Every win that I have now, I appreciate it,” admitted Dimitrov. “I don’t really think of who I’m playing against. I just want to have those wins… It was a very, very important match to me, without a doubt, though. Clearly I have struggled the past two, three months. The shoulder hasn’t been great. So a lot of moving parts. A lot of changes overall. I feel great, and I’m very, so to speak, focused and excited for what’s ahead.”

Dimitrov served an ace out wide to take the fourth set tie-break, then broke twice in the deciding set, prior to squandering two match points on serve at 5-2. Upon clinching his 11th win of the year, he pointed a finger to his head in celebration, staring at fellow Monte-Carlo resident (and his part-time coach) Radek Stepanek, as vindication of the work they have undertaken over the clay swing.

Since landing the biggest title of his career at The O2 in London in November 2017, Dimitrov has posted a 35-27 match record and fallen to World No. 46. On Monday evening, competing on the newest stadium court: Simonne-Mathieu, Dimitrov hit 60 winners – including 15 aces – and came out with two more points than Cilic, 179 to 177.

Infosys powers real-time insights for every point

“I think there is a lot for me to take out of this match,” said Dimitrov. “I think this is the important part for me now. It was definitely one of the greatest matches I have played for a long time. A lot of credit to Marin. I have so much respect to Marin. He’s a tremendous fighter [and] never gives up.

“I think on both ends today we raised our game a little bit, sort of with each game that we played. Almost towards the end of the match, we served almost impeccably, to be honest. So that was something that already I take a lot of confidence from, and hopefully I can reproduce it for the match ahead. I think I’m going to definitely have a look at that match tomorrow. I’m really curious to see a couple of things and hopefully keep same way. Hopefully that was a turning point.”

He will next challenge Stan Wawrinka, the 2015 champion, who underwent two knee surgeries and has also fought his own battle for a return to form.

Cilic admitted, “He (Dimitrov) was playing really well. And I think what he served well when he was in the trouble. When I had some chances, he was coming up with some good shots and good serves. Generally, I think the level was very good. Unfortunately, I could not win it and feeling a little bit disappointed.”

Wawrinka was impressive in passing a potentially tricky second-round encounter against Chilean Cristian Garin 6-1, 6-4, 6-0 in one hour and 40 minutes. It was the 499th match win of his career and his 40th victory at Roland Garros (40-13 record).

The Swiss star admitted that it was one of the best matches he has played in recent months. “I know how well I can play,” said Wawrinka. “I’m happy with the way I have been playing today… I was really aggressive, moving much better than the first round.

“I like the conditions, I know how well I can play here. I know how well I have been practising and pushing myself to play a match like that. I’m happy with today, but this is just one match, so I just want to be ready for the next one… After the [knee] surgery it took me a little while to get back fit and ready to play like today.”

The 22-year-old Garin, who has contested 27 of his 28 tour-level matches on clay-courts this year, lifted two ATP Tour titles in Houston (d. Ruud) and in Munich (d. Berrettini).

Roland Garros 2019 Day 4 Preview: Nishikori, Dimitrov and Bertens on Deck

There are close shaves, and then there are close shaves – Naomi Osaka had one of the latter on Tuesday.

Bageled in the first set, twice having to break in the second with Anna-Karolina Schmiedlova serving for the match, Osaka came within a whisker of being the victim in one of the most stunning upsets in Roland Garros history.

Thankfully for her, she managed to regroup, not just making it through to the second round, but also saving herself from the inevitable questions that would’ve followed about her preparation, hand injury, and yes, her split with Sascha Bajin.

Funnily enough, this marks the second year in a row the women’s number one seed stumbled out of the gates in Paris – Simona Halep dropped her first set of the tournament 6-2 to Alison Riske before bouncing back 6-1, 6-1 – and considering Halep went on to win the title, well… maybe it will end up being a good thing! I guess we’ll soon find out.

Here’s your three to see on day four in Paris:

Kei Nishikori (JPN) [7] v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) – Second on Philippe Chartier

It’s been a minute since we’ve seen Jo-Willy Tsonga in the second-round at Roland Garros – he didn’t play last year after knee surgery, and he was bounced in his first match in 2017 – but here in 2019, he’s back, with a tasty contest on deck against Kei Nishikori. Considering his seeding and 5-3 head-to-head advantage, there’s no denying Nishikori comes into this one the favourite, but even in his diminished state, Tsonga can take solace in the fact he’s won their one-and-only contest on clay – a 6-1, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 rollercoaster here in 2015 – and with the crowd behind him, he definitely has a shot to do it again. Indeed, if Tsonga serves well and starts crushing the ball early, the upset will be on, but in any case, watching the Frenchman crunch forehands while Nishikori does the same with backhands seems like a pretty good way to spend a few hours.

Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) v Marin Cilic (CRO) [11] – Third on Simonne Mathieu

If Grigor Dimitrov wants to regain his mojo here at the French Open, he’s going to have to do a lot better than his sloppy first-round performance over Janko Tipsarevic, and yet with Marin Cilic on deck, he doesn’t have much time to find a higher gear. Historically more of a fast-court player, Cilic has made back-to-back quarters here in Paris, and will get an extra boost from his 4-1 advantage (all on hard) in the head-to-head over Dimitrov, making him a strong favourite – and yet, this is Grigor Dimitrov we’re talking about. If the Bulgarian does manage to step it up, the clay should help him put Cilic on the back foot with his spin and depth, and that should make this a truly fascinating encounter.

Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) v Kiki Bertens (NED) [4] – Fourth on Philippe Chatrier

One of the favourites to win here in Paris, if Kiki Bertens is to be taken seriously as a contender, she’ll first have to come through this potentially tricky encounter with Viktoria Kuzmova. Already this year the two have played two three-setters, Kuzmova taking the first in Dubai before Bertens returned the favour in Miami, so there’s every reason to expect another close contest here. That said, this also provides an opportunity for Bertens to make a statement, which she would definitely be doing if she came through in straights.