Grigor Dimitrov got his bid to win the 2018 Australian Open off to a promising start with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 vanquishing of the ATP tour‘s less esteemed Novak – an Austrian qualifier by the name of Dennis Novak. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion is defending a semi-final appearance from last year and is hoping to at minimum replicate or, better still, improve upon how he did at the event 12 months ago.
It was plain sailing from the beginning of the opening set for Dimitrov. It took six games for him to crack the Novak serve for the first time and he almost repeated the trick at 5-2; however, he failed to break for the set despite having five chances to do so. When Dimitrov had the opportunity to serve it out a game later he raced to 40-0, but Novak kept him waiting to cement a one set lead a tad longer than he would’ve liked by winning two points in succession. Dimitrov finally got what he wanted after sweeping a cute forehand pass beyond the reach of Novak, who was closing in on the net from a deep position in the court. The only surprising thing about the first set is that Dimitrov needed eight tries to close it out.
Dimitrov continued in a dominant vein in the second set, breaking Novak in the first game with ease and sailing apace through his service games. Novak managed only two holds in this set and Dimitrov made it impossibly difficult for his opponent to make it even remotely competitive. The Bulgarian had an easy time crossing the finish line in the second set, perhaps becalmed by the double break cushion that he didn’t have in the first. In the third set Dimitrov was just as impressive with the sharpness of his footwork, the smartness of his shot choice and the ruthlessness of his mentality. He is here to make waves again this year and made that known by how little mercy he showed to a player who was playing on a show court for the first time in his career and likely never will do again. A breadstick in the third set was the perfect way to finish off a match that was never really much of a contest, more so the first building block of an Australian Open campaign that promises to hold plenty of tougher moments in store for the world number three.
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