Australian Open: Grigor Dimitrov halts Nick Kyrgios to stay on title course

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Australian Open: Grigor Dimitrov halts Nick Kyrgios to stay on title course

World number 3 and 2017 Australian Open semi-finalist notched his 20th win at Melbourne Park after a well-earned 7-6 7-6 4-6 7-6 victory against the home star Nick Kyrgios in 3 hours and 26 minutes. Kyrgios won their battle in Brisbane a few weeks ago but it was the Bulgarian who had the upper hand today, prevailing in 3 tie breaks to propel himself into his 4th Grand Slam quarter-final, the first in 12 months. As was expected, it was a great clash between two explosive shotmakers, worth at least the semi-final stage. Nick played better on his second serve, had more winners and scored 3 breaks against 2 from Grigor but that wasn't enough to earn at least the deciding set for him, coming short in the closing stages of all the sets he lost to hit the exit earlier than he was hoping for.

Dimitrov will now face Kyle Edmund in the quarter-final after young Briton defeated Andreas Seppi for his best Grand Slam result so far. The crowd on Rod Laver Arena had the privilege to watch an entertaining contest of two of the most explosive players on the Tour and they gave them something to cheer about, hitting winners from all over the court and staying close to each other from start to finish. Grigor pulled the trigger in the pivotal moments, dropping just 2 points on serve in the tie breaks and that pretty much earned the win for him. Nick had 36 aces and 76 winners and he stayed focused in almost the entire match, giving his best to control his backhand and engineer the points in order to finish them with his huge forehands.

Still, he made more unforced errors than Bulgarian and that was also one of the elements that kept him away from the more positive result. The first set saw only one loose service game but they remained on serve, with Kyrgios saving 3 break points in the 6th game to set up the tie break. Grigor won it by 7-3, scoring 3 mini-breaks and earning the set points with a forehand winner. Nick double faulted in the last point to hand the set to his rival, and he was in even bigger trouble when he got broken at 15 in the 7th game of set number 2 after a poor forehand that couldn't find the target. Grigor served for the set in the 10th game but he wasted a set point to lose his serve and out of sudden they were even on 5-5. Bulgarian had the upper hand in the tie break again, claiming a mini-break in the 9th point with a forehand winner and delivering 2 good serves to grab the breaker by 7-5 and move 2 sets to love in front.

Kyrgios saved a break point at the start of the third game and that gave him the momentum, serving well in the rest of the set and keeping the pressure on Grigor, who sprayed a forehand error to lose his serve in the 5th game, unable to pull it back by the end of the set. The 4th set was also intense and full of drama and it was Grigor who made the first big step towards the triumph, breaking in game 8 to serve for the win in the game that followed. Nick remained focused and he broke back at 15, playing one of his best return games when he needed it the most and the set went into another tie break. Bulgarian was rock solid in the points on his serve and he sealed the deal with 2 mini-breaks, ripping a cross court forehand winner to complete his triumph and book the place in the last 8 for the second straight year. 

Fourth round results: