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Dimitrov Double Dips Stateside
Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov bowed out twice in as many weeks in US tennis tournaments.
After some early promise, the Haskovo-born player, who has racked up more than $20m in career earnings, was beaten in straight sets by Andrey Rublev in the Indian Wells Masters. He opened the tournament with a 7-6, 6-2 victory over Australian Jordan Thompson before repeating the feat against Alexander Bublik, 6-3, 6-4.
That took him into the last 16, where America's John Isner lay in wait. The home crowd couldn't get their boy over the line, and 30-year-old Dimitrov registered a third straight-set win, 6-3, 7-6, to set up his quarter-final with Rublev. After a tense opening set was conceded 7-5, Dimitrov went to pieces, losing the second set 6-2.
His disappointment was to be short-lived as he jetted off to Miami for the Miami Open, with the opening game just one week after his defeat to Rublev. Sadly for our hero, he didn't make it out of the round of 64, losing in straight sets to Mackenzie McDonald, who spent a brief time in the world's top 50 players, according to Tennisnet.
That concluded a tough late-winter period for Dimitrov, as he looked to kick on after a late-season resurgence in 2021. He reached his fourth Grand Slam quarter-final in early 2021, meeting former Grand Slam champion Marin Cilic in the first round at the Australian Open. Seeded 18th, he brushed aside his opponent and eventually made it to the final eight before losing to qualifier Aslan Karatsev after suffering back spasms.
Those injuries forced him to retire from the French Open before losing to Alexander Bublikin in the second round at Wimbledon. The season appeared to be a write off for the veteran, but he reached the round of 16 at the 2021 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in the autumn. That included an impressive win against then-World number two and top seed Daniil Medvedev 4–6, 6–4, 6–3.
His latest setback is unlikely to knock him off his stride, so soon after, he became only the second male tennis player born in the nineties or later to reach 350 career wins. He'll be hoping to add to that figure over the coming weeks, leading into the summer tournament the world will watch: Wimbledon. He's behind the likes of Rublev in the current tennis betting odds at Ladbrokes to take the Wimbledon title, but he will at least be looking to improve on his previous best. That came in 2014, when he went to the semi-final, defeating Andy Murray 6-1, 7-6, 6-2 in the quarter-final, before winning a set and taking the third to a tie break in the semi-final against Novak Djokovic.
Whether a semi-final is beyond the ageing Dimitrov is one burning question, but you can never doubt his desire to represent his home country on the world stage. The World Number 25 might be a way down the current tennis rankings, but he's eager to add to his three Grand Slam final appearances.
If he is to do so, he will have to put his double dose of US misery behind him quickly.
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