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Djokovic: 'Tsitsipas Has Great Potential To Be No. 1'

  • Posted: Feb 29, 2020

Djokovic: ‘Tsitsipas Has Great Potential To Be No. 1’

World No. 1 praises Greek after Dubai final

After capturing his fifth Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title, Novak Djokovic took a moment to applaud two-time runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas and share his belief that the Greek has the potential to reach the top of the FedEx ATP Rankings.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion, who is 18-0 this year, praised Tsitsipas for his desire to improve and believes the 21-year-old is also capable of lifting multiple Grand Slam titles.

“I love the fact that he is more than just tennis player and he’s always looking to learn from the experience and to understand something new about himself so he can improve, get better,” said Djokovic.

“That for me is a trait of a champion, of someone that for sure has a great potential to be No. 1 of the world and win Grand Slams and be a great ambassador of our sport. He already is, but he has a great future ahead of him, I’m sure.”

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Djokovic remembers what it is like to achieve success at Tsitsipas’ age on the ATP Tour. The Serbian claimed his first ATP Tour trophy when he was 19 and, like Tsitsipas, clinched his first Nitto ATP Finals trophy at 21 years of age.

Tsitsipas has developed his game under an intense spotlight. In 2018, the Greek rose from No. 91 to No. 15 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and finished his breakout year as the second winner of the Next Gen ATP Finals.

Last year, Tsitsipas advanced to his first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open. But the Athens-born star also learned how to deal with defeats, enduring a four-match losing streak in North America. The Greek returned to form in Asia, before finishing the season with his biggest title at the The O2 in London.

“You go through the process of self-realisation and learning, maturing, then understanding what’s good for you in life, in your career. He’s a mature man already,” said Djokovic.

“He’s young from the perspective of professional sport, but he’s been around. He’s very smart, very wise.”

Tsitsipas is not alone as he continues to develop his game on the ATP Tour. He is often joined by father and coach Apostolos Tsitsipas and his mother, Julia Salnikova. Salnikova even took part in Tsitsipas’ semi-final press conference, asking her son if he was aware of how many tennis greats were actively supported by their parents.

“Parents, family members, the closest people in your life that have been there since day one are your greatest support,” said Djokovic. “Of course, they want the best for you.

“I know both of his parents. They’re nice people. They really care about him being the best tennis player he can be and also the best person he can be. I think they’re doing a very good job.”

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For the second straight year, Tsitsipas entered the Dubai championship match on a run of eight straight wins. The Greek rushed to Dubai after lifting his second straight title in Marseille last Sunday, but battled through to his 11th ATP Tour final (5-6) with wins against Pablo Carreno Busta, Alexander Bublik, Jan-Lennard Struff and Daniel Evans.

Having also fallen in the Dubai final last year to Roger Federer, Tsitsipas struggled to hide his disappointment after falling short at the ATP 500 event for the second straight year.

“It’s disappointing trying so hard and not really getting the final result that you want,” said Tsitsipas. “For sure, I would love to see myself holding that trophy. Of course, he gave more than me and he deserves it.”

But Tsitsipas didn’t dwell on his disappointment for long, praising Djokovic for his 21-match unbeaten run. Djokovic has achieved 21 consecutive victories or better on seven occasions in his career.

Tsitsipas’s personal streak may have ended at eight wins, but he has the belief that one day he will be the one to make headlines for extended winning runs on the ATP Tour.

“I am not surprised he has done it. I want to do it one day too… I’ve been playing some good tennis,” said Tsitsipas. “Obviously I’ve never had the record that Djokovic has. But I do think it’s possible. Of course, lots of respect to him for doing it so many times.”

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Carballes Baena/Davidovich Fokina Win Maiden Doubles Title In Santiago

  • Posted: Feb 29, 2020

Carballes Baena/Davidovich Fokina Win Maiden Doubles Title In Santiago

Spaniards beat second seeds for the trophy

Spaniards Roberto Carballes Baena and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina played together for the first time this week at the Chile Dove Men+Care Open in Santiago. But it certainly didn’t seem that way.

Carballes Baena and Davidovich Fokina defeated second seeds Marcelo Arevalo and Jonny O’Mara 7-6(3), 6-1 on Saturday to lift the trophy. The Spaniards only dropped one set en route to the title.

Neither man had won a tour-level doubles match in 2020 entering the week, and Davidovich Fokina had never played one at all. But the Top 100 singles players in the FedEx ATP Rankings found rhythm in Santiago, eliminating two of the four seeded teams (also third seeds Sharan/Sitak) en route to their triumph.

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The key to the match was the first-set tie-break. Carballes Baena and Davidovich Fokina won two of their first three return points of the tie-break and they never looked back, winning the set and then breaking in their first two return games of the second set. The champions triumphed after one hour and 11 minutes.

The victors won more second-serve points (72%) than their opponents did first-serve points (64%). They also saved two of the three break points they faced.

Carballes Baena and Davidovich Fokina each earn 250 FedEx ATP Doubles Ranking points and a share of $34,160.

Arevalo and O’Mara, who reached this year’s Australian Open quarter-finals as well as semi-finals in New York and Delray Beach, fall to 10-4 on the season after making their first ATP Tour final as a team. They each add 150 points to their tally and a split of $17,500.

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ATP Honours Acapulco For The Third Time

  • Posted: Feb 29, 2020

ATP Honours Acapulco For The Third Time

Tournament most recently won ATP 500 Tournament of the Year in 2017

Taylor Fritz produced a thrilling comeback on Friday evening against fellow American John Isner to reach the final of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado for HSBC. Although the American still needs to beat Rafael Nadal for the champion’s trophy, he remained on court following his victory for another presentation.

Fritz joined Linda Clark, ATP Tour Vice President, Tournament Relations – Americas, in presenting Tournament Chairman Renata Burillo with a trophy honouring the Acapulco event’s place as one of the Tournaments of the Year in the 2019 ATP Tour Awards.

Read: Fritz Reaches Acapulco Semi-finals with Stunning Comeback

Two years after last receiving this award, the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, which also earned this recognition in 2007, has once again been named the ATP 500 Tournament of the Year. The event, held at the Acapulco Princess Mundo Imperial, was held on clay for 20 years before transitioning to hard courts in 2014.

“On behalf of Mextenis, our sponsors and the Mexican fans, we are incredibly happy and proud of this award,” Burillo said. “To receive the recognition of the ATP Players fills us with energy to continue to work hard to make the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC an even better tournament. We want to thank all the players for the trust and support we have received over the years. Acapulco is, and will always be, your home.”

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Indian Wells, Acapulco & Doha Named 2019 Tournaments Of The Year

The Acapulco tournament enjoyed record attendance in 2019, welcoming more than 55,000 fans.

The Tournament of the Year awards, voted annually by ATP Tour players, recognise the leading standards set across the three tournament categories on the Tour. The BNP Paribas Open and the Qatar ExxonMobil Open won the remaining two awards, in the ATP Masters 1000 and 250 tournament categories, respectively.

Visit the official ATP Tour Awards section on

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Djokovic Ponders Perfect Season After Dubai Title

  • Posted: Feb 29, 2020

Djokovic Ponders Perfect Season After Dubai Title

Serbian’s best start to a year came in 2011 when he began the season 41-0

After World No. 1 Novak Djokovic claimed his fifth Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title on Saturday, the on-court reporter asked the champion what specific goals he has for the rest of the season. And perhaps the 79-time tour-level titlist’s response wasn’t what the crowd expected.

“One of the targets is to go unbeaten the whole season,” Djokovic said. “No, I’m kidding. I’m not kidding, actually.”

During Djokovic’s press conference a short time later, a reporter asked the Serbian to set the record straight. Is completing a perfect season truly a goal for him?

“No, no,” Djokovic said, cracking a laugh. “Of course I’m trying to embrace the moment and appreciate where I am. I think this has been one of the best starts of all seasons I had in my career. I feel great on the court. I’ve been playing great tennis on the hard courts. That is my most successful and preferred surface.”

Djokovic has started 2020 by leading Team Serbia to the inaugural ATP Cup title, claiming a record-extending eighth Australian Open trophy and now triumphing in Dubai. He has won 21 consecutive tour-level matches, and is 18-0 on the season.

“I’m just grateful that I’m playing well, feeling well. I’ve won many matches now in a row. I’ll try to keep that run going,” Djokovic said. “It’s just way too early to speak about how long that run might go, the calculations. I try not to think about predictions. I try to focus on what I need to do with myself and my team in order to thrive every day, in order to try to play as best as I can every single match.”

Frenchman Gael Monfils had three match points against Djokovic during the second-set tie-break of their Dubai semi-final. But everything has been going right for the Serbian, who found a way to stave off those chances and reach the final, in which he defeated reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets.

“The season started in the most perfect way possible,” Djokovic said. “I am aware of the fact that most of the matches that I’m going to play, the players will not have much to lose. They will go out and try to play their best and stop the streak. At the same time the more I win, the more confident and comfortable I feel playing the next match and competing and really performing well.”

This is the seventh time Djokovic has earned a winning streak of at least 20 matches. His best start to a season came in 2011 when he went 41-0 — part of a 43-match winning streak — before losing in the Roland Garros semi-finals. So when things are going so well, how does Djokovic stay motivated?

“Motivation never lacks, to be honest, at least in my case. I find motivation in the small things and details,” Djokovic said. “For me the biggest motivation is my self-growth as a player and as a person. Tennis really allows me to have that platform of learning and growing and developing both personally and professionally like nothing else in life. I’m grateful for that.”

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Dubai Tennis Championships: Novak Djokovic beats Stefanos Tsitsipas in final

  • Posted: Feb 29, 2020

World number one Novak Djokovic won the Dubai Tennis Championships for the first time since 2013 with a straight-set win over Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The 32-year-old Serb, who extends his winning streak to 21 matches, clinched his fifth Dubai title with a 6-3 6-4 win over the Greek second seed.

After a tight start, Djokovic broke for 5-3 with a wonderful cross-court backhand winner and held for the set.

He served out for victory after another decisive break for 5-4 in the second.

Djokovic had been calm on court throughout the week, often meditating in his chair on the changeovers, but roared with emotion as he celebrated winning his 79th career title.

“It was very close even though it was a straight-set win,” said Djokovic, who also won the Dubai titles in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013.

“I was fortunate to hold my serve at the start of the match.”

Djokovic has been in fine form in the first two months of the season, winning all of his matches as Serbia triumphed at the inaugural ATP Cup and then claiming a record-extending eighth Australian Open title.

A three-week break from competition after Melbourne had the desired effect for the 16-time Grand Slam champion.

Djokovic did not drop a set in his opening four matches in Dubai and when he was finally tested against France’s Gael Monfils in Friday’s semi-finals, came back from a set down and fought off three match points in the second-set tie-break.

Once he moved a set and a break up against 21-year-old Tsitsipas, it looked to be another formality.

Tsitsipas, who was aiming for back-to-back titles after winning last week’s Marseille Open, looked to be tiring as Djokovic broke for 3-2, only for the Greek to instantly level.

But it proved to be a false dawn as Djokovic refocused to break again and then clinch victory on the first of three championship points with a backhand winner.

“Yesterday I was one shot away from losing the match when three match points down and it could have easily happened I was not here. That is sport – things can turnaround quickly, said Djokovic.

“I have played really well in most of the matches. This is a big win for me.”

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Djokovic Lifts Fifth Dubai Title

  • Posted: Feb 29, 2020

Djokovic Lifts Fifth Dubai Title

World No. 1 extends winning streak to 21 matches

Novak Djokovic continued his unbeaten start to the 2020 ATP Tour season on Saturday, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 to claim his fifth Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title.

One day after saving three consecutive match points to beat Gael Monfils in a dramatic semi-final, Djokovic raised his level and converted each of his three break points to win his 21st straight match. Djokovic has won each of the 18 encounters he has contested this season, winning 43 of 49 sets.

Novak Djokovic’s 20+ Match Win Streaks

Win Streak Year
43 2010-2011
28 2015
28 2013-14
23 2015
22 2018
22 2012-13
21 2019-20

“I’m trying to embrace the moment and appreciate where I am,” said Djokovic. “I think this has been one of the best starts of all the seasons I had in my career. I feel great on the court. I’ve been playing great tennis on the hard courts. That is my most successful and preferred surface.

“I’m just grateful that I’m playing well, feeling well. I’ve won many matches now in a row. I’ll try to keep that run going. It’s just way too early to speak about how long that run might go, the calculations. I try not to think about predictions. I try to focus on what I need to do with myself and my team in order to thrive every day, in order to try to play as best as I can every single match. That’s the main focus.”

Djokovic continues to impress in 2020, having also lifted the inaugural ATP Cup with Team Serbia and a record-extending eighth Australian Open title last month. With his first Dubai trophy since 2013, Djokovic improves to 5-1 in finals at the ATP 500 event. Only Roger Federer, in 2015, has beaten the World No. 1 in a Dubai final.

This is the first time that a No. 1 seed has beaten a No. 2 seed at this tournament. In each of the previous four contests between the event’s Top 2 seeds, the second seed has lifted the trophy.

Top 2 Seeds In Dubai Final

Year Result
2020 [1] Djokovic d. [2] Tsitsipas
2015 [2] Federer d. [1] Djokovic
2011 [2] Djokovic d. [1] Federer
2006 [2] Nadal d. [1] Federer
1997 [2] Muster d. [1] Ivanisevic

In a first set largely dominated by serve, Djokovic attacked Tsitsipas’ backhand with deep returns to earn his first break point at 4-3. The 32-year-old was forced to defend as Tsitsipas attacked with an aggressive inside-out forehand approach, but Djokovic ripped a flat cross-court backhand passing shot to take a 5-3 lead. Djokovic converted his first set point with a backhand winner down the line.

After trading breaks early in the second set, Djokovic once again earned a late service break. With Tsitsipas serving at 4-4, the 17-time Grand Slam champion extracted forehand errors from the Greek to earn two break points. Djokovic played with depth and aggression in an extended rally on his first opportunity, before changing the rhythm with a cross-court drop shot to move to within one game of his 79th tour-level crown. As he did when serving for the first set, Djokovic held serve comfortably with another backhand winner down the line.

“I felt mentally I started having a little bit more of an advantage on the court [after breaking at 4-3]. You could sense that I got the momentum. I didn’t want to lose the momentum,” said Djokovic.

“I was a break up in the second set. He [broke back] right away. I was comfortable from the back of the court playing with him. It seems like he did drop his intensity a little bit from the previous matches… I served out the match in a great fashion, won another trophy here. I’m just obviously very, very pleased.”

Tsitsipas was attempting to capture his first Dubai title in his second straight final at the tournament. The Marseille champion, who entered this year’s final on an eight-match winning streak, fell to Roger Federer in last year’s championship match.

“It’s disappointing trying so hard and not really getting the final result that you want,” said Tsitsipas. “For sure, I would love to see myself holding that trophy. Of course, he gave more than me and he deserves it.”

Djokovic receives 500 FedEx ATP Ranking points and earns $565,705 in prize money. Tsitsipas gains 300 ATP Ranking points and collects $284,485.

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Venus/Peers Capture First Team Trophy In Dubai

  • Posted: Feb 29, 2020

Venus/Peers Capture First Team Trophy In Dubai

Unseeded team claims title in 59 minutes

In their fourth event as a pairing, John Peers and Michael Venus lifted their first team trophy at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday.

Peers and Venus needed just 59 minutes to overcome fourth seeds Raven Klaasen and Oliver Marach 6-3, 6-2 saving both break points they faced in the championship match. The unseeded tandem did not drop a set en route to the trophy, which included a 6-4, 6-2 quarter-final victory against defending champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury.

“[There is] a lot of excitement. I mean, we worked hard the past few months to try to play at this level for a whole tournament. It was really good and pleasing we were able to do that together,” said Peers.

“I know we’ll take a lot of confidence with that moving forward, take a look at the areas we need to keep working on. We have got to keep improving.”

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This is Peers’ 21st tour-level trophy. The Australian has won at least one trophy for eight consecutive years, dating back to his maiden ATP Tour title in Houston in 2013.

Venus adds an 11th tour-level crown to his collection. The 32-year-old has lifted a trophy in each of the six seasons since his first title run in Nice in 2015.

“[With] any new partnership, you don’t know how it’s going to go till you get out there really, until you get on the court and you start to understand exactly what your partner likes to see in certain situations, how they react to things and that, it takes time to figure those things out,” said Venus.

“We really spent probably the past two or three weeks sitting down, trying to go over it to try to have a better understanding. I think that really helped us.”

Klaasen and Marach were also attempting to capture their first title in their fourth event as a duo. The fourth seeds own a 6-4 record this year.

Peers and Venus gain 500 FedEx ATP Doubles Ranking points and share $181,360 in prize money. Klaasen and Marach earn 300 points and split $88,780.

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Mexican Open: Rafael Nadal to face Taylor Fritz in men's final

  • Posted: Feb 29, 2020

World number two Rafael Nadal has reached the final of the Mexican Open by beating Grigor Dimitrov.

The 33-year-old Spaniard, who remains on course for his third Mexican title, cruised past the Bulgarian 6-3 6-2 in the semi-final.

He will face 22-year-old Taylor Fritz, who had to come from behind against fellow American John Isner 2-6 7-5 6-3 in Acapulco.

World number 35 Fritz beat Britain’s Kyle Edmund in the last eight.

Fritz has never played Nadal, who has won every set on his way to his third Mexican final, 15 years after his first.

  • Britain’s Watson reaches WTA final in Mexico

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Fritz Reaches Acapulco Final With Stunning Comeback

  • Posted: Feb 29, 2020

Fritz Reaches Acapulco Final With Stunning Comeback

American awaits winner of Nadal and Dimitrov

Midway through his Friday semi-final with John Isner at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel por HSBC, Taylor Fritz was simply hoping for a respectable scoreline. He earned far more than that, rallying from a set and 2-4, 0/40 down to stun the fifth seed 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 and reach his first ATP 500 final in Acapulco.

“It’s huge for me. One of my biggest goals this year was to do well in the bigger tournaments,” Fritz said. “I hope that I can keep the momentum going for the rest of the year.”

Fritz’s outstanding turnaround puts him into his fifth ATP Tour final (1-3). The 22-year-old is also projected to reach a new career-high FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 24 on Monday.

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He joined 2017 champion Sam Querrey as the only Americans to reach the final in Acapulco. Fritz tied his ATP Head2Head series with Isner at 2-2 and has won their past two matches.

Awaiting him on Saturday is the winner of the other semi-final featuring top-seeded Spaniard Rafael Nadal and seventh-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov. Fritz has never played Nadal and defeated Dimitrov in their lone ATP Head2Head meeting last year in Madrid.

“I would love to win my first ATP 500 title,” Fritz said. “I’m definitely going to have a tough opponent, so I’ll just have to be at my best.”

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Fritz started slowly as Isner came out swinging from the first ball. Striking his returns within inches of the baseline, the fifth seed broke Fritz in the opening game with an overhead smash, then scored an insurance break two games later with a backhand return winner. Isner finished the opening set with 15 winners to seven errors.

It appeared that Isner would run through the match after breaking Fritz to love for a 3-2 lead in the second set and holding triple break point at 4-2. But the 22-year-old managed to hold serve and adjusted his tactics, finding a way to put more of Isner’s booming serves into play.

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Fritz finally earned a pair of break points with Isner serving at 4-3 and tied the set score after the fifth seed hit a forehand into the net. Three games later, the young American ripped a backhand passing shot to earn two set points. He completed the staggering reversal and set up a decider after Isner flicked a backhand volley wide.

Perhaps miffed at dropping the momentum, a frustrated Isner dropped his opening service game in the final set with a double fault. The slight advantage was all Fritz needed and he maintained the lead to prevail after one hour and 41 minutes. He finished the night with 28 winners to 14 unforced errors and served more aces than Isner (15 to 13).

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Nadal One Win Away From Acapulco Hat Trick

  • Posted: Feb 29, 2020

Nadal One Win Away From Acapulco Hat Trick

Spaniard to face Fritz in Saturday final

Fifteen years after capturing his first title at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, Rafael Nadal is in position to once again wear the winner’s sombrero in Acapulco. The top-seeded Spaniard booked his place in the final with a convincing 6-3, 6-2 victory on Friday against seventh-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.

“I’m very happy. A great victory against one of the best players in the world and a good friend,” Nadal said. “I think I’ve increased my level during the match, so it’s positive for me.”

The two-time champion (2005, 2013) improved to 18-2 at this event and remained flawless (4-0) in Acapulco semi-finals. He also continued his dominance over Dimitrov (13-1) in their ATP Head2Head series. Nadal has yet to lose a set this week and only dropped 20 games across his first four matches.

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Nadal’s return of serve has been particularly dangerous. The Spaniard leads the tournament in return games won (58%, 19 of 33) and converted 19 of 28 break points (68%).

Standing between him and an Acapulco hat trick is Taylor Fritz, who defeated fifth seed John Isner in an all-American semi-final. This will be the first ATP Head2Head meeting between Nadal and Fritz.

“He’s playing well. He has a great serve, fantastic shots from the baseline. It’s going to be a tough one,” Nadal said. “I know I’m going to have to be at my best and I hope to be ready for it.”

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Dimitrov had overcome plenty of barriers to reach his semi-final showdown with Nadal. The Bulgarian saved two match points to defeat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in the second round, then snapped a five-match losing streak against third-seeded Swiss Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals.

Breaking another five-match losing streak against Nadal would be an even taller order. The Spaniard successfully targeted Dimitrov’s backhand with depth and heavy topspin in their previous matches, breaking down that normally reliable wing before applying further pressure with his forehand.

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Both players traded early service holds to start their latest clash. But while Nadal got off to a slow start, he quickly rounded into form. From 1-2 in the opening set, Nadal went on a four-game run with a stream of blistering baseline winners. 

Although Dimitrov kept the games close, he didn’t have much to show for it on the scoreboard. He let slip two game points on his serve at 2-3 before handing Nadal a break with a forehand error, then squandered three break points in the next game. A big down-the-line forehand from the Spaniard on set point gave him the early advantage.

The second set progressed nearly identically to the first set, with Dimitrov breaking early for a 2-0 lead before Nadal found his footing. Standing on top of the baseline and pouncing with his forehand, Nadal finished out the night by going on a six-game run. The top seed crunched a final forehand winner to end play after one hour and 44 minutes.

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