Grigor Dimitrov improved his stellar 2017 season to 15-1, defeating the in-form Mischa Zverev in three tight sets his Rotterdam opener on Wednesday, while Richard Gasquet also secured his spot in the second round.
WRITTEN BY ALEXANDER BURTON
It is not often that Gasquet is not seeded at an ATP event, but the Frenchman has suffered a drop in ranking position since being ranked in the top 10 ahead of Wimbledon last year. He is still in some sort of form though, as he managed to reach the final of an event he won last season (Montpellier). He was beaten in the final by young German Alexander Zverev.
The Frenchman, now ranked at No.22, put that behind him, as he negotiated a potentially tricky first round match in the Dutch port city, taking down Serbia's Viktor Troicki 64 62. Gasquet now takes the lead in the head-to-head with Troicki for the first time, having lost the first two of their five meetings. He is now unbeaten in their last three encounters.
Richard Gasquet (Photo by KOEN SUYK/AFP/Getty Images)
He was joined by the in-form Grigor Dimitrov, who like Gasquet contested a final last week. The result was different though, as Dimitrov was able to win the title in Sofia. He was just about able to keep that winning run going, as he edged Mischa Zverev 67 62 64. The serve-volleying German managed to continually frustrate the Bulgarian in the first set, saving all three break points that featured in the set, before edging the tiebreak.
Dimitrov's more consistent nature from the back of the court earned its rewards in the second set, as Zverev's winning percentage on his second serve dropped to less than a quarter of points. The result was a pair of unanswered breaks for Dimitrov, who looked the strong favourite going into the decider.
It was indeed Dimitrov who broke first in the final set, proving even more dominant against Zverev's second serve. In a surprising turn, Zverev immediately broke back, his first break of the Dimitrov serve. It was a brief reprieve, as the Bulgarian immediately recovered the advantage, and closed the win out. Dimitrov is already chasing his third title of the season after winning both Brisbane and Sofia so far in 2017.
Grigor Dimitrov (Photo by NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images)
David Goffin, the beaten finalist in that Sofia final, appeared to have few problems with Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov, as the Belgian third seed ran out a comfortable 63 62 winner.
In second round action, defending champion Martin Klizan continued to tightrope his way out of danger by defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber 67 64 61. Though the Slovak did not have to face the ignominy of another bagel suffered in his first round encounter with Fernando Verdasco, he did not have it easy against the German. However, he finished strongly to keep his hopes of repeating as an unlikely titlist in Rotterdam alive.
Martin Klizan (Photo by KOEN SUYK/AFP/Getty Images)
In an all qualifier second round meeting, it was Pierre-Hugues Herbert who defeated Evgeny Donskoy 62 76. Herbert, as is his style, used his heavy service to engineer a number of free points, including eleven aces in the straight sets win. Hebert will likely climb back into the Top 100 next week as a result of making the quarter-finals in Rotterdam. The Frenchman currently had a ranking of No.109 in singles.