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Grigor Dimitrov vs Filip Krajinovic ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament tennis live: Dimitrov faces Paris Masters finalist Krajinovic in Rotterdam

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 14 Feb 2018
  • Second seed Grigor Dimitrov faces Paris Masters runner-up Filip Krajinovic at ATP Rotterdam on Thursday
  • Dimitrov vs Krajinovic ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament tennis is live from Rotterdam on Thursday at 2pm local/1pm GMT
Grigor Dimitrov (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Grigor Dimitrov takes on Paris Masters finalist Filip Krajinovic for a place in the quarterfinals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam on Thursday.

Grigor Dimitrov returns to action for the first time at the Australian Open in Rotterdam this week – the world no. 5 looks for a place in the quarterfinals as he takes on Filip Krajinovic, the surprise Paris Masters 2017 finalist.

Dimitrov is making his seventh appearance at the 500-level ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, having made his debut all the way back in 2009 when, as a teenage wildcard ranked world no. 478, he defeated Tomas Berdych in the first round before pushing Rafael Nadal to three sets. It was one of those results which put the Bulgarian on everyone’s radar and his talent and physical gifts were such that it seemed that it was only a matter of time before he was a top player.

Well, it’s happened – at least rankings wise, if not in terms of major titles, and quite a lot slower than people thought it would. Nevertheless, Dimitrov is ranked world no. 5 coming into this 500-level event and had the best season of his career in 2017, making a second major semifinal at the Australian Open (Wimbledon 2014 was the worst), winning 250 titles in Sofia and Brisbane and then claiming the biggest titles of his career – a first Masters 1000 Series title in Cincinnati, and then the huge coup that was the Nitto ATP Finals title on his first qualification for the elite season-ending championships.

Heady stuff, and Dimitrov has a lot to defend in 2018 – among it his quarterfinal points from Rotterdam last year when he beat Mischa Zverev and Denis Istomin before losing to David Goffin in the quarterfinals. The Bulgarian has already slipped from world no. 3 to world no. 5 after failing to defend his points in Brisbane and Melbourne, and at both events he didn’t play his best tennis – but what he did do was compete (largely) brilliantly, something that hasn’t always been the case for Dimitrov in the past. He scored hard-fought wins over John Millman and Kyle Edmund in Brisbane before falling to Nick Kyrgios in Brisbane, then had to fight past qualifier Mackenzie McDonald in a dramatic five-set encounter in the second round in Melbourne before coming up trumps with very impressive victories over Andrey Rublev – who had beaten him at the US Open the year before – and Kyrgios in the round of 16.

But when facing a lower-ranked, relatively unheralded opponent he was expected to beat, Dimitrov fell short, ousted by Kyle Edmund in four sets in the quarterfinals. How much that defeat, and his January struggles in general, had to do with the shoulder injury that subsequently saw him pull out of last year’s indoors tournament in Sofia is unknown, but he didn’t seem to have too much trouble with his opening opponent in Rotterdam. The in-form Yuichi Sugita made the second week work for the win, but Dimitrov raised his game when it counted for a 6-4, 7-6(5) victory over the Japanese player, breaking him when he served for the second set and riding his advantage to a 106-minute victory.

Next up for Dimitrov at the 500-level ATP Rotterdam event on Thursday is Filip Krajinovic, a player less than a year younger than Dimitrov who was also highly touted when he first enjoyed success as a junior and appeared on the tour – but one who got comprehensively lost in the shuffle and has only re-emerged recently.

Injury has played its part in Krajinovic’s career and he was down at world no. 294 as recently as May of last year. But the Serbian player won Challenger titles in Marburg, Biella, Rome and Almaty between July and October to break back into the top 100, going on to qualify for the 250 in Moscow where he defeated Andrey Rublev to make the second round. 

Then came the Paris Masters, and one of the unlikelier runs of recent times. Ranked world no. 77, Krajinovic defeated three players to make it into the main draw – just the second ATP World Tour main draw he had appeared in during 2017 – then opened with a win over Sugita before ousting 10th seed Sam Querrey (a semifinalist at Wimbledon and the US Open that year), local favourite Nicolas Mahut and benefiting from a walkover from Rafael Nadal before yet another unlikely victory, this time over ninth seed John Isner, saw him reach a wholly incredible Masters 100 Series final where he lost to Jack Sock.

It was quite the bright note to end the season on for Krajinovic, and it propelled him into the top 50 to a career-high ranking of world no. 33. The 25-year-old’s 2018 season, however, has immediately been clouded by injury. Before Rotterdam, Krajinovic had played just one ATP World Tour – a 4-6, 1-6 loss to Peter Gojowczyk in Doha. Then he pulled out of the Australian Open due to an Achilles tendon injury. And the match he won in Rotterdam to set up this second-round clash with Dimitrov was a three-set win over teenage wildcard Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Moreover, Dimitrov enjoys a perfect 3-0 record against Krajinovic, and has dropped just one set – in their first meeting, which was followed by a bagel. Everything looks set for the world no. 5 to book his place in the quarterfinals in Rotterdam once more on Thursday.  

Dimitrov vs Krajinovic ABN AMRO WTT tennis is live from Rotterdam on Thursday at 2pm local/1pm GMT

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Grigor Dimitrov vs Filip Krajinovic ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament tennis live: Dimitrov faces Paris Masters finalist Krajinovic in Rotterdam

Second seed Grigor Dimitrov out to preserve perfect record vs Filip Krajinovic and book a place in the quarterfinals: ATP ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament tennis live from Rotterdam

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