Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov got his Western & Southern Open campaign underway with a dominant display on Tuesday as he moved past 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 6-4 to snap a three-match losing streak.
Dimitrov has fond memories in Cincinnati, having captured his lone ATP Masters 1000 crown in Ohio in 2017, defeating Nick Kyrgios in the final. On Tuesday, the 30-year-old broke Bautista-Agut three times in a rain-disrupted clash and won 76 per cent (26/34) of his first-service points to advance in 84 minutes.
“I am very very happy,” Dimitrov said in his on-court interview. “He is such a tough opponent, but I served really well when I had to. It was good to finish a match in straight sets, I am just appreciating the moment.”
The World No. 21, who reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open in February, pulled the Spaniard around the court as he hit with power and precision, while closing the net effectively throughout. Dimitrov now leads Bautista-Agut 4-2 in their ATP Head2Head Series and will next face Alexander Bublik after the 24-year-old defeated American Marcos Giron 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5).
Bautista-Agut, who enjoyed a run to the quarter-finals in Toronto last week, has reached finals in Montpellier and Doha this season.
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The 24-year-old had lost his previous two ATP Head2Head meetings against Davidovich Fokina, at the US Open last year and in Montpellier in February. However, he was strong on serve throughout in Cincinnati, hitting 15 aces in a rain-disrupted clash to gain revenge and advance in two hours and nine minutes.
Hurkacz became Poland’s first ATP Masters 1000 champion when he captured the Miami Open presented by Itau title in April. The World No. 12 also lifted the trophy in Delray Beach in January and advanced to his maiden Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon (l. to Berrettini) last month.
Hurkacz made a fast start at the Linder Family Tennis Centre as he raced into a 4-0 lead in the first set. The Pole won 50 per cent of points on Davidovich Fokina’s first serve in the opener as he stepped inside the baseline on return, striking the ball with great depth.
After breaking in the third game in the second set, Hurkacz was then pegged back and struggled to find his best tennis in the tie-break when the players returned after rain stopped player. However, Hurkacz regained his focus in the third set to secure his victory.