World number 5 and 2017 Australian Open semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov notched his 19th win in Melbourne, battling past young Russian Andrey Rublev by 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-4 in 3 hours and 3 minutes on the Rold Laver Arena. It was a very fine match between two explosive shotmakers, despite almost 30 double faults they hit combined, and Grigor managed to overpower his opponent in the end to reach the 4th round for the 4th time at the first Grand Slam of the season. As was expected, we saw a lot of great winners from every inch of the court and it was the Bulgarian who had the edge with 6 breaks of serve from 19 chances he created. On the other hand, Rublev gave his best to stay in touch as long as possible, ripping his forehands to move Dimitrov from the comfort zone, and he had the opportunity to extend the match if he had broke Grigor in the last game of the match when Bulgarian served for the win.
The Russian had 15 break chances but he converted only 4, which wasn't enough for a more positive result, failing to beat Grigor for the second time in a row in Slams after that heroic triumph at the US Open last summer. Also, Andrey missed the opportunity to capitalize on attacking rival's backhand, not mixing his game with drop shots and net rushings and that one-dimensional approach is something he will have to change if he wants to beat the guys from the very top of the game. Andrey was off to a perfect start, breaking in the very first game of the match to gain an early lead, but Dimitrov got back on the level terms after breaking back in game 4. Bulgarian saved 2 break points in the following game and he broke for the second time in game 8 to close the opening set on own serve a few minutes later.
This gave him the momentum and he raced into a 4-2 lead in set number 2 with a break earned in the first game of the set, and he looked to be on a safe road towards 2 sets to love advantage. Instead of that, Andrey found the range of his forehand and he rattled off 4 games in a row to steal the set by 6-4, breaking Grigor in games 8 and 10 to level the score and improve his chances of pulling another big upset at Majors. That was even more at stake when he broke in the 6th game of the third set to jump into a 4-2 lead, but he stopped after that and let Grigor grab the last 4 games for a turnaround that marked the pivotal moment of this contest. Both players saved 3 break points earlier in the 4th set and it was Dimitrov who moved closer to the finish line with a break in game 7. Facing an ultimate obstacle, he fends off 2 break points in game 10 to close the victory in 4 sets and progress into the last 16.
Pablo Carreno Busta played in the third round of the Australian Open a year ago and he will go at least one step further this time around after a hard-fought 7-6 4-6 7-5 7-5 in 3 hours and 18 minutes. Muller blasted 40 aces but his second serve let him down, although it was a mighty close encounter with 4 break points for each player. Spaniard managed to break him 2 times and he got broken only once, which was enough to come through in 4 sets and avoid spending further time on the court. There was only 1 break point in the opening set, Carreno Busta saved it in game 4 and he won the tie break by 7-4 to get his name on the scoreboard.
Gilles opened the second set with his only break of the match and he sailed through his service games to grab the set by 6-4, with another break chance for him at the start of the third set as well. Pablo saved it and that was one of the pivotal moments of the match, as it would have been tough for him to get it back by the end of the set in the way Muller served. A player from Luxembourg wasted no less than 4 game points just before the tie break and Carreno Busta broke him on his lone opportunity to steal the set by 7-5 and take 2 sets to 1 lead. Nothing could separate them in the 4th set as well and it was Carreno Busta who held his nerves better in the closing stages, breaking Muller in the 12th game to seal the deal and book his place in the last 16.
Third round results: