Fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov is the in-form player on the ATP world tour right now. The Bulgarian remains perfect in ATP events in 2017, as he stays alive in the Rotterdam 500 event after he defeated Denis Istomin 76 61. After a competitive opening set, Dimitrov pulled well clear in the second to move into the quarter-finals.
WRITTEN BY ALEXANDER BURTON
Dimitrov has won both Brisbane and Sofia so far this season, with his only defeat coming at a Grand Slam event in a nevertheless mightily impressive semi-final showing at the Australian Open.
Despite the scoreline suggesting that Dimitrov perhaps controlled the match throughout, that was far from the case. The Bulgarian did indeed get off to a good start, securing an early break, extending his lead to 4-2 in the opening set.
Istomin then started playing the aggressive, attacking tennis that had seen him earn a shock win against Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, using his forehand to push Dimitrov back. It remained consistent enough to return him to serve, as Dimitrov surrendered the break with a forehand unforced error into the net for 4-4.
Both men held until the tiebreak, though Istomin's forehand continued to look much more dangerous than the early stages.
Grigor Dimitrov (Photo by NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images)
The Uzbek took an early lead in the tiebreak with a sensational passing shot winner, after he had looked second-best until the winner. Dimitrov levelled though, and the tiebreak reached 8-7 for Dimitrov with Istomin serving. He failed to deliver under pressure, hitting an untimely double-fault to meekly surrender the opener.
Dimitrov then went for the killer blow early in the second, despite a beautiful drop-shot winner from Istomin on the first point of the set. Dimitrov broke in the second game, showing the full extent of his athleticism, forcing Istomin into going for low percentage shots as the match quickly looked to get away from the unseeded man.
Dimitrov was riding a purple patch of form, and earned the double break after a lengthy Istomin service game. Dimitrov then served out to love, taking the match when Istomin could only parry a service return into the ground.
Dimitrov, who is now 16-1 for the season, sets up a rematch with David Goffin, whom he most recently met in the Sofia final last Sunday. Dimitrov has not dropped a set to Goffin in two meetings this season (Sofia and Australian Open). Dimitrov has not lost to Goffin as a professional player leading 3-0, or 6-0 when Futures, Challengers, and qualifying events are taken into account.